Busta Rhymes Sheds Tears During Lifetime Achievement Speech at BET Awards

Busta Rhymes (C) accepts the Lifetime Achievement Award onstage during the BET Awards 2023 at Microsoft Theater on June 25, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET)

Culture’s biggest night included the ultimate honor for Busta Rhymes.

The Brooklyn-born rapper, 51,  received a lifetime achievement award — presented by Marlon Wayans and Swizz Beatz.

During his acceptance speech at Sunday night’s awards in Los Angeles, Busta Rhymes got emotional and wiped tears from his eyes as he reflected on his career and his hopes for the future of hip hop.

“I’m going to wear it on my sleeve. I do want to cry,” he admitted at the start of his speech.

The rapper told stories about his early days as a solo artist after leaving Leaders of the New School — his hip hop crew from Long Island with Charlie Brown, Cut Monitor Milo, and Dinco D. He then noted that “a lot of greatness from our people and our culture is by default, because it’s by the magic that we have.”

Related: BET Awards 2023: Complete List of Winners

He expressed gratitude to the audience, sharing, “I just am grateful that the blessing that has been bestowed upon me and this gift that I’ve been given and this fire that continues to burn as a passion in my soul, that allows me to get into any situation — from the stage to collabing with whoever — and making sure that I am far from the weak link.”

The rapper also had a message for the next generation of hip-hop artists, encouraging his peers to “stop these little petty beefs that we be doing.”

“Y’all messing up the bag. Y’all messing up the energy,” he said. “I don’t like when I talk to these dudes that run these streaming platforms and they talking about, ‘You know, we turning the consumer off because there’s so much little this and little that going on with you rappers.’ We’re gonna stop that. We’re gonna love each other, and we gonna get to this money.”

Busta Rhymes’ candid speech was preceded by a short video montage that highlighted his many accomplishments throughout his career — with stars like Janet Jackson, Diddy, Pharrell Williams, and more commenting on his lasting legacy.

The rapper also took part in his own tribute performance, with artists Cutty Ranks, Dexta Daps, M.O.P., Rah Digga, Scar Lip, Spice, Super Cat, and Swizz Beatz joining him on stage.

Together, they delivered a medley of his greatest hits, including standout moments from his career with his verses on M.O.P.’s “Ante Up” and A Tribe Called Quest’s “Scenario,” as well as his iconic tracks “Break Ya Neck,” “Give It To Me,” “New York Sh-t,” “Touch It,” and “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See.”

The performance featured a special appearance by Coi Leray, who belted out her remix of “Players” that samples one of his songs. Busta Rhymes ended the set with a performance of “Beach Ball,” his latest collaboration with BIA.