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Afro star-studded performances at 2021 US Billboard Music Awards

Trae Tha Truth (right) and Tina Knowles-Lawson

The 2021 Billboard Music Awards were held on Sunday at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California, United States. The ceremony was broadcasted live from NBC, and was hosted by Nick Jonas. Musical performers were announced during a series of social media posts.

Rapper DaBaby won top rap song and top streaming song — enabling the African American artist to add two more trophies to join all his other accolades at his mother’s home.

His love for the woman who gave birth to him radiated off his being.

“I mean, it’s the fruits of my labour. I mean so, definitely well-deserved. I’m proud to take them home and give them to my mom and let her do what she wants to do with them because that’s what she does with all my trophies, she takes them and that is what they are for.

“I’m proud to take them home and give them to my mom and let her do what she wants to do with them,” he said. “She’s got all of my awards. I be wanting her to give them back maybe like six months later, seven months later down the line so I can just line them all up at the crib but, you know, she doesn’t play like that.”

Ethiopian-Canadian R&B singer The Weeknd — with ten wins out of 16 nominations, boasted the highest number of awards accepted that evening. Honoured in categories such as top artist, top male artist, top Hot 100 song for “Blinding Lights” and top R&B album for “After Hours ” categories.

Fellow Afro-Canadian hip hop artist Drake was named artist of the decade — extending his record with 29 wins as the most decorated winner in the history of the award show. The hip hop artist explored in his acceptance speech the effort it took to get to his level of success with his 3-year-old son by his side.

Houston, Texas rap artist and social activist Trae tha Truth was presented the Change Maker Award by mother Tina of fellow Houston native Beyoncé Knowles.

Trae tha Truth spoke to the press about the challenges he has faced in recent times after being somewhat blacklisted by certain music industry players.

“I’m banned in been every city in every state,” he said. “I tend to get overlooked a lot but it’s all God’s time and God’s plan because when it first happened — me being banned — I lost everything from friends to family, I lost my money.

“I still haven’t gotten record deals because of that but at the end of the day when you get to a point you let go and let God, you get out there and make no excuses and make it happen and I’ve been going to a point now, there’s no way you can go around me, there’s no way you can’t see Trae, there’s no way you can’t hear Trae’s name and I’m thankful for that and even moments like this, this is something that was so a living testament that if you keep faith things can happen.”

True to form, the outspoken record executive who has launched a lawsuit against Radio One, closed his award acceptance speech by calling for justice for Breonna Taylor — an African-American female health worker shot to death in her own home by US law enforcement in a questionable raid.

New York R&B singer-songwriter Alicia Keys celebrated the 20th anniversary of her debut album “Songs in A minor” with a performance of her first hit single “Fallin'”. Her dynamic performance was introduced by the US former First lady, Michelle Obama.

Keys’ renowned producer husband Swizz Beatz had dedicated a moment to recently deceased hip-hop legends — such as iconic Ruff Ryders lyricist DMX who recently passed away from health complications.

All-in-all — although the LA venue saw uncharacteristically empty seats in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Billboard Music Awards was a night of abundant star-studded performances.

The live mini-concerts included a collaborative performance by DJ Khaled, H.E.R. and the Migos plus a black girl magic showcase from Doja Cat and SZA who sang their big recent hit “Kiss Me More.”

The show brought back a concert vibe after around of year of sparse live and mostly virtual performances due to the health crisis.

Glitz, glam and live music much appreciated by fans tuning in worldwide.