Kendrick Lamar was the biggest winner at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs), taking home six prizes and opening the show with a message about police brutality.
Fellow rapper Cardi B also touched on the issue when she gave a shout-out to NFL player Colin Kaepernick who has been side-lined after protesting against racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem before games.
“As long as you kneel with us, we’re gonna be standing for you,” she said.
Taylor Swift failed to appear at the event, but debuted her comeback music video for Look What You Made Me Do.
Her video has been watched more than 12 million times on YouTube already.
Earlier this year MTV announced it was abandoning traditional male and female categories, switching to gender-neutral awards instead.
The VMAs are always a big night for pop music, but were also dominated by political statements at a fiery show in Los Angeles on August 27.
Artists spoke out against white supremacy and urged suicide awareness.
Transgender military personnel attended days after President Donald Trump signed a directive to ban them.
Heather Heyer’s mother was presented an award.
Susan Bro handed out the Fight Against the System Award, just 15 days after Heather Heyer was killed during a protest against a far-right march in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Paying tribute to her daughter, she said: “I miss her, but I know she’s here tonight.”
Susan Bro was introduced by the stage by Reverend Robert Wright Lee IV, a descendant of the controversial general on the Confederate side of the US Civil War.
“We have made my ancestor an idol of white supremacy, racism, and hate,” he said.
All six nominees for the award shared the prize. Somali nominee K’naan, whose cover of a Hamilton track paid tribute to the work of immigrants, wore a mock Make America Great Again written in Arabic.
Michael Jackson’s daughter Paris also spoke out against the violence in Charlottesville, calling out “Nazi white supremacist jerks”.
“We as a nation with liberty as our slogan – we have zero tolerance for their violence, their hatred and their discrimination. We must resist.”
Artists mostly avoided referring to President Trump directly, but criticized his policies and events indirectly.
Host Katy Perry, who campaigned for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election mocked Donald Trump with the new award: “Listen, guys, this is one election where the popular vote actually matters…so vote online, but hurry up, before some random Russian pop star wins!”
Musician Logic performed a powerful rendition of his song 1-800-273-8255 (named after the US suicide prevention hotline) with the lyrics: “I want you to be alive / You don’t gotta die today.”
He shared the stage with survivors of suicide attempts wearing “You are not alone” t-shirts.
Thirty Seconds to Mars frontman Jared Leto paid tribute to vocalists Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell who both took their own lives earlier this year.