A full-fledged dancehall and reggae session took place at the BET Awards Sunday night, leaving Jamaicans helplessly revelling in the moment. With the theme ‘anything can happen,’ the organisers of the annual award show gave the world a taste of both contemporary Jamaican genres, and the display was anything but dull.
Opening with Dawn Penn’s 1994 single You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No), the dancehall session incited a slow groove in the audience that can only be captured with a driving reggae bassline.
Following Penn’s set came the iconic duo Chaka Demus and Pliers. They delivered their platinum-selling collaboration Murder She Wrote, capturing everyone’s full attention.
Murder She Wrote was also sampled by French Montana and Nicki Minaj two months ago. The Trinidad-born rapper was also spotted in the audience singing along to the popular hook.
Beenie Man came next, singing a medley of his own comprising of: Who am I, Romie, Girls Dem Sugar and Rum & Red Bull. Though sounding hoarse, Beenie Man interacted with the audience in his usual style and was given a roar of approval.
Elephant Man brought the curtains down on the groundbreaking performance with his Billboard hit single Pon Di River.
Taking everyone to his dance school, Elephant Man pranced from side to side, showing patrons the ‘Pon Di River’.
Nicki Minaj, Safari, BET’s former 106 & Park host Terrence and actress Gabrielle Union were all spotted doing the dance move.
“I felt great watching the BET Awards. Pon Di River is the biggest dance I have ever made in my entire life and to be seeing people like Nicki Minaj perform it to the world, I wanted to go through the TV screen and reach on the stage immediately. It was a great feeling,” said the creator of the dance move, John Hype.
The night also took on a more sombre tone when Don Cheadle paid homage to Nelson Mandela.
“We want to take a moment and send our prayers and thoughts to a man who literally changed the world,” he said. “This evening, we would like to offer prayers and support and hope to the extraordinary Nelson Mandela and his family,” he said.
Janelle Monae ended the event with a top-notch performance of Q.U.E.E.N. alongside Erykah Badu, who brought a white poodle onstage. It was one of the night’s best performances, which also featured a seductive Ciara, a slick Miguel, a random but welcomed reggae set and a playful Justin Timberlake with an even more playful Charlie Wilson.
Timberlake took a backseat to the soul singer, joining Wilson onstage for a medley of his solo and Gap Band hits.
Stevie Wonder, Jamie Foxx, Pharrell, Snoop Dogg and India.Arie were also part of the tribute to 60-year-old Wilson, who earned the lifetime achievement award.
“Charlie Wilson is soul music. His impact colours the work of many artistes, which is basically my nice way of saying I and a lot of other artistes have stolen from him,” Timberlake said when presenting Wilson the award.
Wilson’s lively stage presence was arguably the night’s top moment, though others were on fire.
Ciara echoed Janet Jackson when she danced and sang her R&B hit Body Party.
Badu sang with Monae and Kendrick Lamar, who also performed with 2 Chainz. Miguel sang alone, and with Mariah Carey and J. Cole, while Minaj performed with Ciara and Chris Brown. Pharrell helped out Wilson and Robin Thicke, who excitedly performed his current No. 1 hit Blurred Lines.