Rapper DaBaby made his debut in a controversial pre-recorded performance of “Rockstar” on Sunday’s 20th annual BET Awards in which he recalled the death of George Floyd.
The show became completely virtual for the first time ever due to concerns about the coronavirus, which stopped major film, television and music productions and forced the shows to reward for reviewing how and when they will air. In a night of impressive pre-recorded performances, DaBaby and Roddy Ricch made their debut with an interpretation of “Rockstar” that sparked both praise and contrast from viewers.
The music video opens with DaBaby lying on the ground with what appears to be a white police officer kneeling on his neck. The image was an obvious reference to Floyd, who died in police custody on May 25 in Minneapolis. A video of the incident sparked protests nationwide against police brutality, particularly within the black community, after showing Agent Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd̵
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The rest of DaBaby’s video shows the artist performing atop a burning police car surrounded by masked protesters wearing T-shirts with the words “Black Lives Matter”, “I Am George Floyd” and more. Other parts of the video show riot police clashing with protesters while DaBaby and Ricch perform chaos.
The powerful images culminate with a girl walking towards the camera while holding up a sign that says “More Love”. As he walks, audio from a viral Speech 2016 made by the then 9 year old Zianna Oliphant at a meeting of the Charlotte City Council on police brutality, she starts playing.
“We are black, and we shouldn’t feel that way,” says Oliphant in the video. “We shouldn’t complain because you are treating us badly. We do it because we need it. It is a pity that our fathers and mothers are killed and we cannot even see them anymore. “
Many hastened to praise the performance for its powerful, though controversial images.
“dababy really did something here” a user wrote.
“DaBaby is killing this Rockstar performance. The images of a policeman in the neck like the killers of George Floyd broke my heart”, another user wrote.
“Dababy absolutely killed him. Who ever says otherwise, go for the drug test” a third user tweeted.
“DaBaby with pictures * snaps and applauds * didn’t come to play” another user wrote.
However, others made sure to note that DaBaby had previously made fun of him response to criticism who remained silent in the wake of Floyd’s death, while other artists were making bold public statements against police brutality and systemic racism.
“I always sit and let the hype explode before giving my intuition so that my perspective is not confused with all the ppl that speaks only for likes and comments, or to save face, or perhaps because their department PR, label, or management told them that they should make a statement …. “DaBaby tweeted at the time.
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Many have turned to Twitter to accuse the rapper of capitalizing on the tragedy.
“Didn’t DaBaby tweet that he had nothing to say about the protests?” wrote a detractor.
“DaBaby has been silent all the time, he hasn’t peeked out on BLM and then he had the audacity to reconstruct George Floyd’s death on live TV”, another user wrote.
“I know that DaBaby has no common sense, but I want to know who at BET thought it was nice to allow a” re-enactment “of George Floyd’s death” wrote a third user.
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“I can’t believe that dababy said he let me recall george floyd’s death after tweeting that he had nothing to say about the whole thing and that he was waiting until the” hype “died out,” echoed a fourth user.