The 2017 BET Awards had stumbles, from technical problems during a performance to going well over its planned three-and-a-half hour time slot during the live show held Sunday in Los Angeles. But the show’s performances and special moments made up for having to stay up late on a Sunday.
At the tender age of 24, Chance the Rapper was honored as a humanitarian during the BET Awards on Sunday for his work in his hometown of Chicago, with accolades from the Obamas to Kendrick Lamar.
Former first lady Michelle Obama delivered a taped message for the rapper, saying he was an “outstanding role model” she and her husband, former president Barack Obama, had known since he was a “wee little baby rapper”. Lamar gave him a shout-out later on as well, saying Chance was just getting started.
Chance acknowledged that the honor felt early in his young career.
His wide-ranging speech, which he said was off the cuff, called out several institutions, including the federal government, the Chicago public school system and the judicial system. But he ended by saying he wanted simply to be a better father and person.
Bruno Mars had a big night with his first-ever BET Award for best male R&B/pop artist, which seems a little late in coming for a star whose been putting out multiplatinum albums and hit singles for years.
The singer though was grateful to the network for giving him his first-ever award, a Soul Train honor for the collaboration he did with B.o.B “Nothin’ On You”.
“Ever since then, BET has shown me nothing but love and support of my career throughout the years”, Mars said in his acceptance speech.
Mars, who was nominated for four awards that night, kicked off the show with an energetic and fun performance of his song “Perm”, with his band the Hooligans, all performing and singing in perfect synchronization.
Remy Ma ended Nicki Minaj’s seven-year winning streak for best female hip hop artist at the BET Awards and further extended a rivalry that has been going on for years.
Ma took home the award at the end of the four-hour award show in one of the night’s most anticipated award announcements.
Ma, who served six years in jail for a shooting, thanked God and named two correctional facilities in her speech and told others that they can come back.
“It’s hard, but you can do it”, Ma said. “You can make mistakes and come back”.
In March, Ma released the diss track “Shether”, which was hostile toward Minaj and earned praised from critics and rap fans. Minaj never officially responded to the song, and she wasn’t at the BET Awards on Sunday.
Ma ended by quoting from one of her songs with Fat Joe and walked away with the award high in her hands.
The BET Awards paid tribute to two ’90s era groups with extended performances of soulful, harmony-laced R&B.
The all-female quartet Xscape, featuring LaTocha and Tamika Scott, Kandi Burruss and Tameka “Tiny” Cottle, reunited at the award show with a medley of their hits including “Just Kickin’ It”, “Understanding” and “Who Can I Run To?”
A lifetime achievement tribute to New Edition came in a three-part performance with help from the actors from the BET biopic about the band. It started with the child actors singing “Candy Girl”, later followed by the older actors for some of the band’s hits apart from the group, including BBD’s “Poison” and Ralph Tresvant’s “Sensitivity”.
Finally the real group, clad all in white suits, hit the stage to sing together again with the finale for all the singers and actors together on “If It Isn’t Love”.
Beyonce was the leading nominee of the night with seven, but she was not in attendance. She reportedly had her twins earlier this month, but she hasn’t publicly commented on it.
Still Beyonce had words to share when she won the viewers’ choice award through a young duo, Chloe x Halle, that the pop star asked to pick up her award.
“This has been a journey of love, of celebrating our culture, honoring the past, and approaching the present and future with hope and resolve”, Beyonce said in the letter.
Her younger sister, Solange, also picked up the Centric award and celebrated her birthday after turning 31 on Saturday.
“My armpits are sweating so much right now”, Solange said.
* Video of the year: Bruno Mars, “24K Magic”; Beyonce, “Sorry”
* Best male R&B/pop artist: Bruno Mars
* Best female R&B/pop artist: Beyonce
* Best male hip hop artist: Kendrick Lamar
* Best female hip hop artist: Remy Ma
* Best new artist: Chance the Rapper
* Album of the year: Beyonce, “Lemonade”
* Best group: Migos
* Best gospel/inspirational award: Lecrae
* Best collaboration: Chance the Rapper featuring Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz, “No Problem”; Migos featuring Lil Uzi Vert, “Bad and Boujee”
* YoungStars award: Yara Shahidi
* Viewers’ choice award: Beyonce, “Sorry”
* Centric award: Solange, “Cranes In the Sky”
* Video director of the year: Beyonce and Kahlil Joseph, “Sorry”
* Best actor: Mahershala Ali
* Best actress: Taraji P. Henson
* Best movie: “Hidden Figures”
* Sportswoman of the year: Serena Williams
* Sportsman of the year: Stephen Curry
* Humanitarian award: Chance the Rapper
* Lifetime achievement award: New Edition
* Best international act, Europe: Stormzy, England
* Best international act, Africa: Wizkid, Nigeria (AP)
By Kristin M. Hall