Multi-Grammy Award nominee Busta Rhymes just cemented his name in music history. The “Woo-Hah!! Got You All in Check” rapper was honored with the BET Awards’ lifetime achievement award during the 2023 ceremony in Los Angeles on June 25. The award is reserved for “industry pioneers” and culture shifters, according to the network.
During the ceremony at the Microsoft Theater, Rhymes, 51, was introduced by Marlon Wayans and Swizz Beatz before a compilation video aired documenting the rapper’s prolific career, featuring commentary from his contemporaries, including Diddy, Mariah Carey, and Janet Jackson.
“I’ma wear it on my sleeve. I do want to cry,” he admitted, kicking off his speech. After recounting his early days as a solo act following his departure from Leaders of the New School, Rhymes noted that “a lot of greatness from our people and our culture is by default, because it’s by the magic that we have.” He told the audience, “I just am grateful that the blessing that has been bestowed upon me and this gift that I’ve been given . . . allows me to get at any situation . . . I enjoy walking away from a situation saying, ‘I bust ass.’ It’s just me trying to do my duty to advance the culture and continue to contribute in a significant way.”
He also had a message for the next generation of hip-hop and rap artists, encouraging them to stop beefs and “love each other.” Rhymes said, “We gotta stop this narrative that we don’t love each other . . . It’s corny, it’s whack.” He also added, “Shout-out to every new artist that’s contributing and doing their job,” shouting out performers like Ice Spice and J. Cole.
Rhymes later returned to the stage, performing “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See,” his feature from M.O.P.’s “Ante Up,” “I Know What You Want,” and his verse from “Look at Me Now,” among other highlights of his discography.
Ahead of the show, Rhymes’s honor was announced by BET. The company’s CEO, Scott Mills, said in a statement that Rhymes is “a multifaceted award-winning artist who has mesmerized audiences for decades with his original hip hop sound and one-of-a-kind visuals. He continues to leave an indelible mark on the culture that we hold dear, and it is with great pride that we present this year’s lifetime achievement award to a visionary, a master of rhyme, and a true pioneer. His unwavering commitment to pushing boundaries, unapologetically expressing his art, and empowering generations of artists is a testament to his unparalleled legacy.” Concluded Mills, “We look forward to paying tribute to his remarkable journey and celebrating his countless hits, electrifying performances, and unforgettable moments defining an art form and the culture.”
Others to earn the tribute have included Whitney Houston, Prince, Diddy, and Lionel Richie.