Recently freed from prison, rapper Meek Mill made a controversial appearance at the 2018 BET Awards on Sunday night. He debuted his song “Stay Woke” with a striking performance that touched on gun violence, criminal justice, and the role of police in the black community.
The Philadelphia-bred rapper, who took the stage after an introduction by fellow Philly natives Lil Uzi Vert, Kevin Hart, Questlove, and Black Thought, blasted out one of the night’s most memorable segments on a set designed like a ghetto neighborhood.
Various acts of violence were depicted. The shocking centerpiece of the performance was a young girl — an innocent bystander — hit and killed. For a brief but jarring moment, the audience was assaulted by the sounds of a mother wailing over her child.
As a denouement, an actor playing a police officer laid an American flag over the child’s body, and the stage transformed into a jail setting.
The new tune featured singer Miguel, who shadowed the performance throughout. Meek additionally gave tribute to the late rappers XXXTentacion and Jimmy Wopo — killed in separate incidents June 18 — by wearing a hoodie displaying both of their images.
“Stay Woke” marks the first new music from Meek Mill since his release from prison in April. His last album was 2017’s Wins & Losses.
The 2018 BET Awards were held at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
Read more on Yahoo Entertainment: