Beyoncé was not announced to perform at the BET Awards last night. As we’ve seen, surprise is her thing. And the song she chose to surprise with to open the show was Freedom. If you’ve been to the Formation tour, you know this performance. It comes near the end and takes place at the end of the Beyoncé runway, in a water pit where B and her dancers thrash around to tight choreography, one of the most exhilarating moments of a two hour spectacle full of exhilarating moments. The difference between last night and the tour, of course, was the appearance of Kendrick Lamar. You’ll recall, Beyoncé was making statements about race and equality at the Super Bowl when she owned that halftime show. A week later, Kendrick was doing the same at the Grammys. The two of them coming together for BET, on a politically charged night, showcasing the best of black talent was not an accident.
Beyoncé kicks off the European leg of Formation tomorrow. She came for the open and left shortly after, as her ma, Tina, explained later, to head over to England to start preparations. Tina told the audience that even with her schedule, Beyoncé very much wanted to be a part of the evening, that this is how much BET means to her – and it’s not the awards, it’s the audience, it’s the community. She is in Formation, in alignment, with all of them.
Prior to this year, Beyoncé has worked behind the scenes in supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, reaching out privately to victims of police brutality and their family members and financially supporting the cause. With the release of the Formation video, however, and the subsequent Super Bowl appearance, and then the full album Lemonade, Beyoncé’s crusade is now public and unapologetic – as Jenna Wortham noted in the NYT, “the ultimate declaration from Beyoncé that the tinted windows are down, the earrings are off and someone’s wig might get snatched”.
Beyoncé knows better than anyone else her platform. So when she decides that she wants to perform somewhere, she’s telling the world that where she’s performing deserves the attention – as much as any other event, be it the Billboard Awards or the Grammys. All of that is taken into consideration. And then on top of all that? The hair is really, really good right now.
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