While the 2020 BET Awards aired virtually with no live audience due to the coronavirus pandemic, there was still a lot of ground to cover on Sunday, June 28. The night was a celebration of Black music, but it also put the Black Lives Matter movement front and center, as many artists sent powerful messages standing for an end to unchecked police brutality against Black men and women, like DaBaby and Roddy Ricch's BET awards "Rockstar" performance.
The BET awards aired on the heels of the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police on May 25 and March 13, respectively. The show's host, Insecure actress Amanda Seales, knew the importance of carrying on the show during such a trying time in America.
"It's less about it being during a pandemic and more about it being during a global uprising against racial discrimination," Seales told People ahead of the show. "I don't think there’s a better time for us to be doing a show celebrating Black folks for living in their craft to the best of their abilities." Seales added that she was "more so just keenly aware of the importance of this time" and isn't "taking anything for granted in terms of what this stage means at this time."
DaBaby and Ricch were also keenly aware of the importance of this time, and used their pre-taped performance of "Rockstar" to send a powerful message. The pair performed their Black Lives Matter remix of the track. In the first 45 seconds, DaBaby delivered the first verse of the song — which details his experience being racially profiled by police — with his face pressed into the pavement as a white police officer beared down on his neck with his knee, a clear reflection of how Floyd was murdered.
DaBaby raps: "Cops wanna pull me over, embarrass me / Abusin’ power, you never knew me, thought I was arrogant / As a juvenile, police pulled their guns like they scared of me / What happened, want us to keep it peaceful / Shoulda seen them hating b*tches face when I bought that Lamborghini / Throw up my middle finger, police can’t catch me.”
As the performance went on, powerful images of protests and people holding "Black Lives Matter" signs flooded the screen. The 4-minute performance ended with a young child holding a sign that read, "More Love."
The performance is now trending No. 1 in the U.S. on YouTube, having struck a cord with viewers.