Shade. Defined by Webster’s as “an area of slight darkness that is produced when something blocks the light of the sun,” but in the case of 2016, it’s now virtually the only acceptable method of subtly executing the art of calling someone out. It seems that once we redefined the word, its presence has been more prominent, and thanks to a little thing called social media, we’ve yet to forget its most memorable appearances.
Tonight [Sunday, June 26] as the BET Awards air, eyes and ears will be attuned to its frequency as it casually seeps itself into acceptance speeches, powerful performances, and star-studded presentations. And in honor of that, check out this list of six of the most memorable sightings of “throwing of shade.”
6. Mindless Behavior vs. Lauryn Hill(‘s tax accountant): Not many people were left laughing, especially Beyoncé, in 2012 when boy band Mindless Behavior and Mike Epps took to the stage to co-present the award for Best R&B Artist. When Epps jokingly began to sing, a member of the group, Ray Ray, retorted “You sing bad…like Lauryn Hill’s tax accountant bad.” The award went to Queen Bey that year, and according to a representative of the singer, she altered her acceptance speech on the fly to honor Ms. Hill. “I want to thank all the talented R&B women that came before me like Lauryn Hill and Mary J. Blige.”
5. Chris Rock vs. Rick Ross: Before we go any further, it’s safe to say that in his defense, Chris Rock went after everybody in 2014 when he hosted the BET Awards. He’s a comedian, after all. But some people didn’t quite take too well to his remarks, namely rapper Rick Ross. Taking hits at the rapper’s weight, Rock made the joke, “Dr. Dre has beats. Rick Ross has DiaBEATes.” While others found it to be hysterical, Ricky Rozay didn’t hesitate to respond what he felt, later tweeting that the veteran comedian was “washed up.”
Chris Rock washed up haaaa
— Yung Rénzél (@rickyrozay) June 30, 2014
4. Tracee Ellis Ross vs. Tyga & Chris Brown?: It was last year that Tracee Ellis Ross (who returns to host the awards tonight) was given the duty of introducing a Tyga and Chris Brown joint performance. The lines began to describe the two as “Equally a triple threat–young, sexy, and Black. Please welcome…” here Ross takes a pause, appearing to stifle a bit of laughter, then continues, “Tyga and Chris Brown.” It’s quite possible that the black-ish star could have been distracted by the throngs of fans screaming for the two stars. However, the Twittersphere, naturally, felt a bit of shade overcasting Ross’s introduction, many claiming that if they were tasked with introducing Chris Brown and Tyga as “young an dsexy” they’d have trouble keeping a straight face, too.
3. Nicki Minaj vs. Lil Kim: At last year’s awards, as Nicki Minaj accepted her award for Best Female Hip Hop Artist, she had one last thought to offer. Following Lil Kim’s performance with Puff Daddy and other artists of the Bad Boy imprint, Minaj threw what many speculate to be a jab at the legendary rapper’s lack of releasing music in what had been nearly a decade. “Don’t give up on yourself no matter what. This is for everyone in this room,” said Minaj. “I want to tell you to please make it your business to follow your dreams because one day you will look around and your dream will be gone and you will be mad at somebody. But be mad at your God damn self,” topping off the remark with a big smile and an unbothered hair flip.
2. Nicki Minaj vs. Iggy Azalea: While accepting her award for Best Female Hip Hop Artist in 2014, a category in which Iggy Azalea was also nominated, Minaj, no stranger to making her point on an awards stage, made sure to draw the line that separates herself from Azalea, who many speculated could have taken the trophy that year, putting a dent into Minaj’s strong streak with the award.
“I want you to know that I have an album, The Pink Print, that’s coming out before the year ends. That’s not a plug, but it’s a plug. My point is what I want the world to know about Nicki Minaj is that when you hear Nicki Minaj spit, Nicki Minaj wrote it.”
1. BET vs. BBMA: While this didn’t take place on the BET Awards stage (yet), the network made sure to get us ready for something we’ve all been waiting on for quite some time: the much-talked-about Prince tribute.
After Madonna‘s tribute to Prince at this year’s Billboard Music Awards—which included renditions of “Nothing Compares 2 U” and “Purple Rain”—fell flat with many, BET was one of the first to respond, sharing a teaser of tonight’s impending tribute to the Purple One, with the tweet reading “Yeah, we saw that. Don’t worry. We Got You.” The video was taken down, but the anticipation has only grown with time.
Speaking quite honestly, the network has never disappointed on things of this nature, and we can only imagine what they’ve got up their sleeve. They also plan to honor the late Muhammad Ali at tonight’s ceremonies.
The 2016 BET Awards air live tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern.