Queen Latifah was the Lifetime Achievement Award honoree at this year’s BET Awards. To commemorate her pioneering work for generations of female rappers to follow, four of her acolytes took the stage Sunday night to perform a medley of the Queen’s biggest hits.
Rapsody kicked things off with “Ladies First,” joined by British rapper Monie Love. The women then cleared the stage for Lil’ Kim, who led a rendition of “U.N.I.T.Y.” with one of rap’s other female pioneers, MC Lyte. As the song ended, Lil’ Kim spoke directly to Queen Latifah in the audience: “Queen Latifah, we are here today to give you your flowers — your so-deserved flowers, long-overdue flowers. You are the first Queen! The Queen! My Queen! Thanks for paving the way for us. Thank you.”
In her acceptance speech, Queen Latifah thanked BET “for creating an outlet for beautiful blackness to thrive, to shine. When we couldn’t get played on the radio in other places, we couldn’t get our videos played in other places, there was BET that allowed us to be in our fullness, and to shine to this night, right now, right here.” She also thanked her longtime business partner Shakim Compare, her family and friends, and her fellow rappers onstage, ending the speech with a “Happy Pride!”