Kendrick Lamar was named Best Male Hip-Hop Artist, Chance The Rapper took home Best New Artist and Remy Ma nabbed Best Female Hip-Hop Artist from such nominees as Nicki Minaj and Missy Elliott. Those were just a few of the honors handed out at the BET Awards in Los Angeles on June 25.
Other winners included Beyonce, for the Coca-Cola Viewers’ Choice Award, Bruno Mars for Best Male R&B/Pop Artist, and Migos for Best Group. New Edition received a special BET Lifetime Achievement Award, and before taking the stage for a medley that included the songs “Mr. Telephone Man,” “Can You Stand The Rain,” and “If It Isn’t Love,” the boy band trailblazers from Boston were treated to performances of their biggest hits by the cast members of BET’s New Edition miniseries, among them: “Candy Girl” and “Cool It Now.”
Accepting the Lifetime Achievement honor at the Microsoft Theater were New Edition’s Bobby Brown, Michael Bivins, Ralph Tresvant, Ronnie DeVoe, Ricky Bell and Johnny Gill, who spoke of faith and weathering “highs and lows” during a career that dates back to the 1980s.
Lamar’s acceptance speech also received rousing applause as the rapper acknowledged the recently departed Prodigy of Mobb Deep, crediting him for inspiring his first mix-tape at age 16.
Another emotional moment came when Chance the Rapper accepting the Humanitarian Award. Following an introduction by former First Lady Michelle Obama, fellow Chicagoan Chance spoke of issues plaguing the country, including police violence, prison overcrowding, and public education challenged. “It feels a little early to get something like this,” Chance remarked. “I have plans to tell the world and everyone watching to make the world a better place.”
Chance gave a shout-out to BET chairman and CEO Debra Lee while Bruno Mars acknowledged executive Stephen Hill. Atlantic Records chairman and COO Julie Greenwald, meanwhile, looked elegant in the front row sitting next to the label’s president of black music, Mike Kyser.
The show wasn’t without its technical glitches, forcing host Leslie Jones to ad-lib awkwardly at one point and driving Jamie Foxx off-script during another, but such stumbles were quickly overshadowed by standout performances from Future (with Lamar), Sza, Tamar Braxton, and Maxwell.
Winners in film and TV included “Hidden Figures” for Best Movie, Taraji P. Henson for Best Actress and Mahershala Ali for Best Actor.