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On June 30, fans of urban music and culture were able to enjoy the ultimate experience when the BET Awards premiered. Filled with comedic relief, performances and first looks at some of the most anticipated urban films of the year, this year’s award show topped those of previous years.
Chris Brown opened the show with a medley which included “Fine China”, “Don’t Think They Know” featuring the late Aaliyah and a new song that features Nicki Minaj. Following his performance, the night’s host Chris Tucker took the stage. The comedian brought the laughs as he warned Miguel to not attempt a jump across the audience and made it clear that Snoop Dogg was not to bring a lion onstage with him. He then introduced Don Cheadle to present the first award of the night, Best Male R&B-Pop Artist. Miguel had the honor of receiving the award.
Robin Thicke blazed the stage alongside Pharrell Williams and T.I. to perform “Blurred Lines.” During the performance T.I. showed off his stellar, never-before-seen dance moves. Next, Kendrick Lamar performed “M.A.A.D. City” as well as “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” with surprise guest, Erykah Badu. Later, R. Kelly proved once more that he is still the reigning King of R&B with his performance which featured a choir ensemble and showcased all of the hits created during his 20 plus year career. Mariah Carey, Miguel & Young Jeezy treated the audience to a rousing performance of “Beautiful (Remix).” Jeezy then turned up the heat with his own single, “R.I.P.” Miguel, joined by Kendrick Lamar, also returned to the stage and serenaded the crowd with “How Many Drinks?” Thankfully, no one was injured during his performance.
The night’s biggest highlight was the tribute to the Cadillac Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Charlie Wilson. India.Arie got things started with a rendition of one of Wilson’s most known songs, “There Goes My Baby.” Jamie Foxx then blessed the stage with “Yearning for Your Love.” Rounding out the tribute was the legendary Stevie Wonder who performed “Burn Rubber on Me (Why You Wanna Hurt Me).”
After delivering his acceptance speech Uncle Charlie graced the stage and sang more of his hits including “You Are” and “Beautiful” featuring Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams. Justin Timberlake then joined them to sing “Charlie, Last Name Wilson”, “Dropped the Bomb on Me” and “Knock Me Out.”
Roc Nation artist J. Cole gave hope to all watching with his performance of “Crooked Smile,” a song that encourages men and women to love themselves for who they are naturally. He then performed the infectious “Power Trip” which saw Miguel return to the stage once more.
Despite being a show that largely honors secular music artists, the BET Awards makes it a point to show appreciation to Gospel artists as well. In addition to their Best Gospel Artist award, which was awarded to Mary Mary this year, the show also allows at least one Gospel performance. Though best known for her role as Cora in Tyler Perry’s stage plays and films, Tamela Mann is also a celebrated Gospel artist. She gave all praise and glory to God as she sang “Take Me to the King.” She received a standing ovation for her moving performance.
The ‘pure’ moment did not last long as Ciara was next up to entertain the lively crowd in ways that only she can. CiCi scorched the stage, along with Nicki Minaj, for the first televised performance of “I’m Out.” She then gave her fans what they had been asking for all night via twitter: a performance of “Body Party.” True to form, the entertainer left blood on the dance floor with her often imitated, never duplicated choreography.
Keeping the party atmosphere going, dance hall sensations Beenie Man and Elephant Man brought the Caribbean flavor along with Dawn Penn, Chaka Demus and Pliers as they performed a number of island favorites. Although many had hoped that Beenie would perform “Girls Dem Suga” with R&B artist Mya, no one was disappointed with the song selection that he chose. A performance by 2Chainz followed. It was only right that he performed with A$AP Rocky and Kendrick Lamar with whom he shared the nights Best Collaboration award.
Although the show in its entirety was amazing, the organizers saved the best for last. Clad in her usual black and white, Janelle Monae danced up a storm as she and Erykah Badu performed “Q.U.E.E.N.”
Other notable moments of the night included Tucker’s shared memories of Michael Jackson–who allegedly was a fan of 50 Cent–and the moment of remembrance for Kris Kelly, Bobby Blue Bland and Jim Kelly.
To watch all of the night’s performances and to view a full list of winners, log onto BET.com.
Image Courtesy of Automotive Rhythms