Beyoncé and fellow statement maker Kendrick Lamar made a seriously huge splash opening the BET Awards last night. Cue the waterworks! No, like, the actual waterworks—they were dancing in a shallow pool, splashing everywhere. (Though you may get a case of the leaky eyes from this seriously passionate performance, too.)
First Beyoncé and her entourage of dancing queens whipped the crowd into a frenzy, streaming in under red lights, an excerpt of Martin Luther King’s I Have A Dream speech playing over-top of the beat. It gives us goose bumps.
The veteran performer owned the stage with confidence and conviction, belting out the lines to ‘Freedom,’ off of her new album Lemonade, and raising every hair—neck, arm, head, or otherwise—in the room…and then, just when we thought we couldn’t handle any more, and that all of the surprises were over, Kendrick Lamar popped out of the floor! Boom!
The 29-year-old added some new lyrics before performing his original verse alongside Queen Bey—the first time that the pair had performed live together, actually. And it was glorious.
The duo set the tone for the rest of the evening, which was one of passion and struggle, echoed poignantly later on by Grey’s Anatomy actor, Jessie Williams, who in his passionate address called for those with “no interest in equal rights for black people” to “sit down.”
As far as awards shows go, this year’s BET Awards seriously nailed it. Mark it as One to Remember. And we’re pretty sure we’ve got Bey’s surprise performance to thank for at least some of that.