As the chaos in Ferguson, Missouri continues to rage on following the shooting death of Michael Brown, Common paid tribute to the late teenager with his powerful performance of “Kingdom” during Tuesday night’s BET Hip-Hop Awards. The rapper, backed by a full gospel choir, traded verses with Vince Staples and Jay Electronica and ended the song by calling up Brown’s parents on the stage.
“We do this for the people,” Common said toward the song’s conclusion. “Black people all around this country in America that go through the struggle. We do this for our lost soldiers, our fallen soldiers. We bring to you the parents of Mike Brown.”
As they walked onstage, Brown’s mother choked back tears behind her sunglasses. Then, as the final beat faded out, everyone in the room raised their hands for an extended moment of silence. Watch a video of the moving tribute below.
As for the evening’s award winners, Drake led all recipients with four total: Best Live Performer, Album of the Year (for 2013’s Nothing Was the Same), Best Hip-Hop Video and People’s Champ Award (the latter two secured with his clip for “Worst Behavior”). Producer DJ Mustard followed just behind with three awards (DJ of the Year, MVP of the Year and Producer of the Year). Other notable winners include YG featuring Jeezy & Rich Homie Quan’s “My Hitta” (Track of the Year), Kendrick Lamar (Lyricist of the Year) and Dr. Dre (Hustler of the Year).
While the ceremony shed plenty of light on up-and-coming rappers, singers and producers, the show also made time to look back. Rap-beatboxing legend Doug E. Fresh received the “I Am Hip-Hop Award,” which he dedicated to his recently deceased mother, while R&B artist Brandy – joined by Queen Latifah, MC Lyte and YoYo – performed the hip-hop remix of “I Wanna Be Down” to celebrate the 20th anniversary of her debut single and LP.