Hip Hop and R&B stars have delivered some of the most anticipated and talked-about moments in music history. Award shows, from the Grammys to the BET Awards, have played host to electrifying performances that not only entertained, but they also made powerful statements about society, culture, and the artists themselves.

Think of Beyoncé's groundbreaking performance of "Love On Top" at the MTV Video Music Awards, where she announced her pregnancy in the most stylish way possible, or Kendrick Lamar's politically charged medley at the Grammys, which powerfully addressed themes of racial inequality and social justice. These performances go beyond mere entertainment; they were cultural events that resonated deeply with audiences and often sparked important conversations.

Moreover, these live renditions showcased the versatility and talent within Black music. From the smooth, soulful melodies of artists like Usher to the high-energy, choreographed spectacles of performers like Chris Brown, each performance brought something unique to the stage. In essence, Hip Hop and R&B performances weren't just about the music; they were about creating a legacy. They captured the spirit of the times, reflected the artists' personal and artistic journeys, and left a huge mark on the cultural landscape.

REVOLT put together a list of jaw-dropping surprises, heartfelt tributes, bold political statements, and more that took place as a result of these award show appearances. Check out 31 unforgettable milestones below.

1. Jack Harlow, Lil Wayne, and Brandy (BET Awards)

Jack Harlow found himself in a bit of a hot seat when he admitted to not knowing much of Brandy’s music or that she’s Ray J’s sister. After a bit of a back-and-forth, the two appeared on stage at the BET Awards, where they buried the hatchet with a remix of Harlow’s “First Class” -- one that saw Brandy delivering an impressive rap freestyle. Lil Wayne also briefly appeared for a live rendition of “Poison.”

2. LL Cool J, Run-DMC, Queen Latifah, and more for Hip Hop 50 (Grammy Awards)

Curated by Questlove and led by LL Cool J, the Grammy Awards hosted a lengthy tribute performance in honor of Hip-Hop's 50th anniversary. Joining the aforementioned veterans were a slew of artists from different generations, including Run-DMC, Queen Latifah, Scarface, GloRilla, and Lil Uzi Vert. You can check out fan footage of the entire performance here.

3. Snoop Dogg (MTV Video Music Awards)

Given the legal issues that he was facing at the time, it would have been understandable for Snoop Dogg to take a more conservative angle with his VMAs performance. Instead, the Long Beach legend staged a powerful funeral scene and brought forth a riveting rendition of “Murder Was The Case.” His declaration of innocence before departing the stage still gives chills as an iconic moment in Snoop’s career and Hip Hop overall.

4. A Tribe Called Quest (Grammy Awards)

With help from Busta Rhymes, Consequence, and Anderson .Paak, A Tribe Called Quest provided the Grammy Awards with a beautiful tribute to late member Phife Dawg. The set also served as a powerful political statement with plenty of vitriol aimed at then-President Donald Trump. From Busta’s “Agent Orange” message to the energetic iteration of “We the People....,” Tribe’s message was felt by many.

5. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (MTV Video Music Awards)

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony went all out for their VMAs performance of “Crossroads,” a tribute to Eazy-E and other lost loved ones that became one of the biggest hits of the group’s career. Mixing death symbols like skulls with more heavenly fare like all-white outfits, the Cleveland quartet was arguably the biggest standout from a night that saw sets from the likes of the Fugees and LL Cool J.

6. Prince (American Music Awards)

Make no mistake: Prince has been delivering show-stopping performances his entire career across a variety of award shows and other televised events. Above, the late music icon and the Revolution belted out a timeless rendition of “Purple Rain,” a soul-stirring genre-bender from their album and film of the same name.

7. Jermaine Dupri & Co. (BET Hip Hop Awards)

People tend to leave Jermaine Dupri out of the GOAT conversation, but it’s clear that his contributions to Hip Hop are irreplaceable. Above, he took part in one of many 50th birthday celebrations by performing a slew of classics alongside Ludacris, Nelly, Lil Jon, and more. Of course, it only made sense to close out with a So So Def reunion alongside Da Brat, Dem Franchize Boyz, and Bow Wow.

8. Three 6 Mafia (Academy Awards)

DJ Paul, Juicy J, and Frayser Boy were likely just as surprised as Three 6 Mafia fans when their names were called as Oscar winners for Best Original Song. Even better: the trio performed the number in question – “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp,” from the film Hustle & Flow – alongside Taraji P. Henson, who starred in the drama alongside Terrence Howard. A surreal day for Hip Hop, indeed.

9. Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion (Grammy Awards)

Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion certainly got tongues wagging when they released the titillating “WAP.” For the Grammy Awards, the duo turned the heat up with a performance that many considered to be NSFW – enough so that it generated a slew of federal complaints. “Y’all remember when the FCC almost sued me 'cause I performed ‘WAP’ at the Grammys?” Cardi asked sometime after the event. “What about when all the Republicans literally harassed me over it? On the news, every day... Y’all remember? Ooh, ‘cause I do.”

10. Kendrick Lamar (MTV Video Music Awards)

In promotion of his fourth studio LP, Kendrick Lamar took to the VMAs stage to perform the singles “DNA.” and “HUMBLE.” As could be seen in the above clip, the Compton emcee left his celebrity peers wide-eyed with a blazing set that included several ninjas – one of whom was literally set on fire. Kung-Fu Kenny was in rare form that evening.

11. Lil Nas X and Jack Harlow (MTV Video Music Awards)

For his official debut LP, Lil Nas X teamed up with Jack Harlow for the chart-topping cut “INDUSTRY BABY,” a song that helped to mark the Atlanta star’s transition from the family-friendly “Old Town Road” era to a more provocative image that celebrated his freedom and sexuality. Keeping with that theme (and matching the song’s official video), Lil Nas X pulled out all the stops for a pink-themed prison performance at the VMAs with help from his Louisville collaborator.

12. Kanye West (Grammy Awards)

Months before this Grammy Awards appearance, Kanye West suffered a terrible tragedy with the loss of his mother, Donda West. In tribute to his matriarch, the Chicago talent delivered one of the rawest performances of his career, complete with a heartfelt rendition of “Hey Mama.” He also honored Donda during his acceptance speech for Best Rap Album.

Watch Ye’s full performance here.

13. Mariah Carey (Grammy Awards)

Mariah Carey became a Grammy darling in the beginning of her career, and – for this particular night – she won two of her five nominations. To further celebrate her success, she performed her debut single, "Vision of Love," live for the first time, which showcased her incredible vocals and solidified her place as a music industry powerhouse.

14. Mary J. Blige (Grammy Awards)

Longtime fans of Mary J. Blige were aware of the personal struggles that she dealt with throughout her career, and the power ballad “No More Drama” was for anyone who could relate to going through hard times and moving on from the pain endured. For the Grammy Awards, the Yonkers legend brought every emotion from that song to the stage and received a standing ovation for the incredibly spiritual display.

15. Kendrick Lamar (Grammy Awards)

Kendrick Lamar took the world by storm with To Pimp A Butterfly, and the album’s biggest standout – the Pharrell Williams and Sounwave-produced “Alright” -- effectively became an anthem for the modern civil rights movement. While his performance of the track at the BET Awards generated plenty of attention from fans and critics, his rendition of the jazz-rap number, the equally powerful “The Blacker The Berry,” and a closing freestyle at the Grammy Awards put everybody on pause.

16. T.I., JAY-Z, Lil Wayne, Kanye West, and M.I.A. (Grammy Awards)

T.I. scored himself a missile with the Paper Trail single “Swagga Like Us,” a collaboration with Lil’ Wayne, JAY-Z, and the song’s producer, Kanye West, who sampled M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes.” As such, a very pregnant M.I.A. assisted the A-list quartet on the Grammys stage for a once-in-a-lifetime-performance inspired by the Rat Pack – complete with black-and-white grading for the viewers at home.

17. Eminem and Elton John (Grammy Awards)

Prior to his Grammy Awards performance, Eminem was facing a lot of heat from the LGBTQIA+ community for his then-unapologetic use of certain slurs and other content that many deemed to be homophobic. In response, he enlisted the help of openly gay musician Elton John for a performance of “Stan,” both of whom ended the spectacle with an embrace seen and talked about around the world.

18. Michael Jackson (MTV Video Music Awards)

Of course, Michael Jackson had a fair share of memorable awards show appearances, but the above medley for the VMAs might be the cream of the crop. With help from guitarist Slash, the King of Pop took all who watched on a journey through his discography with high-energy versions of “Black or White,” “Beat It,” “Billie Jean,” “Smooth Criminal,” “Dangerous,” and much more. It was nothing short of a 15-minute masterclass.

19. Beyoncé (MTV Video Music Awards)

Another artist who raises the bar with every performance is Beyoncé, who brought a booming rendition of “Love On Top” to the VMAs. It’s what happened at the end that really made headlines: A pregnancy reveal (her first with Blue Ivy Carter) before the cameras switched to JAY-Z and Kanye West’s smile-inducing reaction.

20. Justin Timberlake (MTV Video Music Awards)

Just prior to the release of the classic FutureSex/LoveSounds, Justin Timberlake threw on a suit and brought the dance moves to the VMAs for a performance of the funky singles “My Love” and “SexyBack.” Longtime collaborator Timbaland, who co-produced both tracks, also joined the *NSYNC alum on stage.

21. Stevie Wonder (Grammy Awards)

Stevie Wonder had the entire crowd moving from his live rendition of “You Haven’t Done Nothin’,” a single from the oft-underrated Fulfillingness’ First Finale. What added to the moment was the fact that the song was a political statement aimed at Richard Nixon in the throes of the Watergate scandal. The embattled president announced his resignation from office several months later.

22. Frank Ocean (MTV Video Music Awards)

Frank Ocean received absolute praise for his performance of the runaway hit “Thinkin Bout You,” the lead single from channel ORANGE. For the VMAs, the Odd Future alum delivered a stripped-down, soulful iteration with just vocals and an acoustic guitar. The performance setting resembled a backyard fire with large crystals, all of which added to the otherworldly atmosphere. Shout out to MTV for playing to Ocean’s strengths with the stage setup and well-placed camera shots.

Watch the entire performance here.

23. D’Angelo (MTV Movie Awards)

Months after the release of the critically acclaimed Voodoo (and that steamy “Untitled” video), D’Angelo appeared onstage at the MTV Movie Awards for a performance of another album cut, “Devil’s Pie,” which initially appeared on the soundtrack for the film Belly. Keeping with the no-shirt game plan that propelled him into pop music stardom, the Virginia talent delivered a rousing rendition of his ode to industry vices.

24. Usher and James Brown (Grammy Awards)

Usher’s appearance at this particular Grammy Awards ceremony came after his banner year for the wildly successful album Confessions. Above, he delivered a dance-heavy rendition of “Caught Up” before welcoming the incomparable James Brown onto the stage for a performance of “Sex Machine.”

25. JAY-Z and Alicia Keys (and Lil Mama) (MTV Video Music Awards)

Obviously, this performance earned more attention than expected thanks to Lil Mama’s unsolicited appearance on the stage in the middle of JAY-Z and Alicia Keys’ performance, which she spoke about in an interview with Jay Hill. "I was hurt. I was depressed," she admitted regarding the aftermath. "I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ You got everybody telling you you’re doing bad. People pointing at you like, ‘What did you do?'"

26. Whitney Houston (Billboard Music Awards)

Whitney Houston dominated the Billboard Music Awards on the above night and collected a whopping 11 trophies as a result. Of course, the crowning achievement for the fans was a more than memorable performance of "I Have Nothing," a top-five hit that was taken from The Bodyguard soundtrack. Her powerful rendition showcased her incredible vocal range and continues to be highly regarded as one of the best performances in the show’s history.

27. PSY and MC Hammer (American Music Awards)

During what might be one of the most unlikely mashups in award show history, South Korean star PSY decided to bring out none other than MC Hammer during the American Music Awards. Following PSY’s performance of the megahit “Gangnam Style,” Hammer brought his Oakland sensibilities with “2 Legit 2 Quit,” and both artists closed out with some synchronized dance moves.

28. Tina Turner (Grammy Awards)

Above, Tina Turner shined bright with her amazing performance of “What’s Love Got To Do With It,” her third single from Private Dancer that topped the Billboard 200 for three weeks and earned a gold certification. That song would also score the late singer two of three Grammy Awards that same night.

29. Chris Brown (BET Awards)

After Michael Jackson’s passing, many were looking to Chris Brown for the ultimate tribute. Unfortunately, past legal and public issues left him out of the running – that was until he was invited to pay homage to the King of Pop at the BET Awards. Following an unhuman display of dancing to "Remember the Time," "Smooth Criminal," and "Billie Jean,” Brown found himself in an emotional state during his rendition of “Man In The Mirror.” The crowd assisted him with finishing the song before being helped by Jermaine Jackson off the stage.

30. Patti LaBelle, Christina Aguilera, Pink, Lil Kim, and Mýa (Grammy Awards)

Christina Aguilera, Pink, Lil Kim, and Mýa stuck gold with their cover of “Lady Marmalade,” which was created for Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! For the Grammy Awards, the quartet upped the ante by performing the track alongside Patti LaBelle, one of the song’s original performers.

31. Miguel (Billboard Music Awards)

Unfortunately, Miguel’s Billboard Music Awards performance of “Adorn” earned its reputation for a leaping accident that resulted in crowd injury. While Miguel was able to speak to one of the people affected, he still found himself facing some unfortunate legal issues in the aftermath.