The BET Hip Hop Awards 2023 aired on Tuesday, October 10, after being taped at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta on October 3. The show, hosted by Fat Joe, celebrated the 50th anniversary of hip-hop by honoring its pioneers, producers, and rising stars.
The night was filled with performances from some of the hottest names in the genre, as well as tributes to legends like Marley Marl, Jermaine Dupri, and Swizz Beatz. However, not all performances were created equal. Here is our ranking of the best and worst performances of the night based on their creativity, energy, and impact.
1. Sexyy Red, DaBaby, Mannie Fresh, and Juvenile
Sexyy Red stole the show with her explosive performance of her hit songs "Shake Sumn" and "Bounce That." She was joined by DaBaby, who delivered his verse on "Shake Sumn" with his signature charisma and swagger. The duo then brought out Mannie Fresh and Juvenile for a surprise rendition of their classic "Back That Azz Up," which had the crowd going wild. Sexyy Red proved that she is a rising star and a versatile performer who can hold her own with hip-hop veterans.
2. Rakim, LL Cool J, and More Pay Tribute to Marley Marl
Marley Marl, one of the most influential producers in hip-hop history, was honored with the I Am Hip-Hop Award for his cultural contributions. The tribute featured some of his collaborators and admirers, including Rakim, LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, MC Shan, and Roxanne Shanté. They performed some of Marley Marl's iconic songs, such as "The Symphony," "Mama Said Knock You Out," and "Eric B. Is President." The tribute showcased Marley Marl's legacy and impact on hip-hop, as well as the skills and charisma of his peers.
3. Lil Jon, Nelly, and More Perform a So So Def Tribute
Jermaine Dupri celebrated the 30th anniversary of his label So So Def Recordings with a star-studded performance featuring some of his artists and friends. Lil Jon, Nelly, Bow Wow, Ludacris, Da Brat, Bone Crusher, Chingy, Tyrese, and Dem Franchize Boyz took turns to perform some of their hits from the So So Def catalog, such as "Yeah!," "Hot in Herre," "Welcome to Atlanta," "Funkdafied," and "Lean wit It, Rock wit It." The performance was a nostalgic trip down memory lane for hip-hop fans who grew up listening to these songs.
4. GloRilla featuring Fivio Foreign: "Pop It"/"Cha Cha Cha"
GloRilla tried to channel her inner high school rebel with her performance of "Pop It" and "Cha Cha Cha," but it fell flat. She started by acting bored and annoyed during a lecture about her bad behavior, then turned the cafeteria tables into her own stage. Fivio Foreign joined her for "Cha Cha Cha," but he seemed out of sync with her and the backing track. The performance lacked originality and energy and felt like a cheap imitation of High School Musical.
5. City Girls: "No Bars" and "Face Down"
City Girls brought the 305 to BET with their performance of "No Bars" and "Face Down," but they failed to impress. JT rapped "No Bars" solo, while Yung Miami joined her for "Face Down." Their performance was bland, with no choreography or stage presence. They relied on their backing track too much, and their delivery needed to be stronger and more monotone. City Girls have performed better, but this one was a disappointment.
6. DJ Hed featuring Maiya The Don, LaNell Grant, and That Mexican OT - Digital Cypher
DJ Hed led the Digital Cypher, which featured Maiya The Don, LaNell Grant, and That Mexican OT spitting bars over Latto's "Put It On Da Floor." However, none stood out or were impressed with their lyrics or flow. They sounded generic, uninspired, and failed to match Latto's original energy and charisma. The Digital Cypher was a waste of time and talent.
The BET Hip Hop Awards 2023 celebrated hip hop's rich history with performances ranging from outstanding to underwhelming. From explosive acts like Sexyy Red, DaBaby, Mannie Fresh, and Juvenile to the nostalgic So So Def tribute, the night had its highs and lows, showcasing the dynamic nature of the genre.
In hip-hop, performances are vital to leaving a lasting impression on the audience. While some artists shone brightly, others struggled to connect. The BET Hip Hop Awards 2023 showcased the dynamic and ever-evolving nature of the genre, reminding us that in hip hop, like in life, there are moments of brilliance and moments that fall short.
Watch all the performances below