Chance the Rapper Wins Humanitarian Award, A Memorable New Edition Tribute, and More at 2017 BET Awards – Complex
2017’s BET Awards were packed from front to back with highlights, featuring performances from Gucci Mane, Migos, Kendrick Lamar, Future, Big Sean, and a whole lot more, with this year’s award show spotlighting artists and black excellence of all kinds.
The show opened up with a bang, with Bruno Mars taking the stage to perform a brief medley, leading into an uproarious standup set from Leslie Jones. Jones was her typically aggressive, in-your-face self, yelling at young people in the crowd and mocking some of the colorful names in hip-hop today.
Everybody was a target when Jones was on stage throughout the evening. She asked, “What’s a Lil Yachty?” to no one in particular during her opening set, and later had a laugh at Amber Rose’s expense, saying the maintenance they did in their pubic region shared a lot in common.
As usual, the performances were the big highlights of the show. Migos took the stage near the end of the show’s first hour, ripping off several of their biggest songs from Culture, including “T-Shirt” and “Bad And Boujee. The crowd got particularly amped for the latter, though as people on social media were happy to note, BET struggled to keep up with the rapid-fire curses.
The #BETAwards censor operator right now pic.twitter.com/AQKmKoONT4
— Questlove Gomez (@questlove) June 26, 2017
Awards shows tend to be a breeding ground for high-profile link-ups, but a lot of acts chose to go it alone during their time on the stage. Big Sean had an army of backup dancers, but he carried his performance by himself, and even added a new verse onto the end of “Bounce Back,” shouting out fellow Detroit rapper Tee Grizzley in the process.
When Big Sean started freestyling to his own song #BETAwards pic.twitter.com/13PP2Ot8sf
— Pie6️⃣ LTD (@RockHolyfield) June 26, 2017
There was still plenty of room for collaboration. Surrounded by marble pillars and billowing flames, Kendrick Lamar and Future took the stage to perform the “Mask Off (Remix),” with Kendrick’s machine-gun flow contrasting Hendrix’s laid-back style. Not everyone is a fan of the dynamic, but Lamar’s stage presence was undeniable.
The performers weren’t the only ones who got to share the spotlight. One particularly enthusiastic fan got spotted dancing in the crowd, and it wasn’t long before he was turned into a meme.
[email protected] got it LIT inside. Come get ya manz 😂 #BETAWARDS pic.twitter.com/BszHmC8DE1
— HOT 97 (@HOT97) June 26, 2017
I’M LOGGING OFF LMAOOOOOOO #BETAwards pic.twitter.com/rSrq5S6H2L
— Broke Homie Kof (@KofieYeboah) June 26, 2017
There were some powerful moments tucked in between the jokes and performances. During the presentation for the Centric Award, cast members from the upcoming movie Detroit gave shout outs to a collection of young black men whose lives have been taken during incidents with police, like Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, and Trayvon Martin. In addition to the shout outs, several Shine A Light Awards were given out to people who are working to help uplift the black community, including activist Tamika Mallory and NFL brothers Michael & Martellus Bennett.
In that vein, Chance the Rapper was one of the night’s big winners, and not just because he took home the Best New Artist award. He became the youngest ever winner of the Humanitarian Award, and in separate video tributes for the accomplishment, he was acknowledged by the likes of Common and former First Lady Michelle Obama.
Here is the video message Michelle Obama taped for Chance the Rapper. :pray::skin-tone-4: #BETAwards pic.twitter.com/HuCKKhBThX
— The Shadow League (@ShadowLeagueTSL) June 26, 2017
The other big honoree of the night was a group, with the men from New Edition reuniting to take home the show’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Hailed as one of the original and most impactful boy bands, with artists from Erykah Badu to Usher joining forces to pay tribute to the 80’s superpower.
After a performance of “Candy Girl” from a junior version of New Edition, stand-ins came out one-by-one to perform songs from the respective solo catalogs of the O.G. New Edition. As the original members looked on, hit songs like “Poison,” “My Prerogative,” and “My My My,” were performed by cast members from BET’s New Edition bipoic, The New Edition Story.
The BET Awards wrapped up with several notable wins. Remy Ma broke Nicki Minaj’s streak by winning Best Female Hip-Hop Artist and Kendrick Lamar won Best Male Hip-Hop Artist. Havoc and Lil Kim honored their friend Prodigy with a touching tribute about his impact in hip-hop. Finally, DJ Khaled performed “I’m the One” with Quavo, Chance the Rapper, and Lil Wayne. Too bad Justin Bieber wasn’t present. It would have made this performance go from lit to litty.
You can also check out all the winners from tonight, below.
Best Female R&B/Pop Artist
Mary J. Blige
Best Male R&B/Pop Artist
2 Chainz & Lil Wayne
A Tribe Called Quest
Fat Joe & Remy Ma
Beyoncé Feat. Kendrick Lamar – “Freedom”
Chance The Rapper Feat. 2 Chainz & Lil Wayne – “No Problem”
Chris Brown Feat. Gucci Mane & Usher – Party—WINNER
DJ Khaled Feat. Beyoncé & Jay Z – “Shining”
Migos Feat. Lil Uzi Vert – “Bad and Boujee”
Rae Sremmurd Feat. Gucci Mane – “Black Beatles”
Best Male Hip-Hop Artist
Chance The Rapper
Best Female Hip-Hop Artist
Video of the Year
Beyoncé – “Sorry”—WINNER (Tie)
Big Sean – “Bounce Back”
Bruno Mars – “24k Magic”—WINNER (Tie)
Migos Feat. Lil Uzi Vert – “Bad and Boujee”
Solange – “Cranes in the Sky”
Video Director of the Year
Benny Boom – Kehlani “Crzy”
Bruno Mars & Jonathan Lia – Bruno Mars “That’s What I Like”
Director X – Zayn Malik “Like I Would”
Hype Williams – Tyga “Gucci Snakes Feat. Desiigner”
Kahlil Joseph & Beyoncé Knowles-Carter – Beyoncé “Sorry”—WINNER
Best New Artist
Chance the Rapper—WINNER
Album of the Year
24k Magic – Bruno Mars
4 Your Eyez Only – J. Cole
A Seat at the Table – Solange
Coloring Book – Chance The Rapper
Lemonade – Beyoncé—WINNER
Dr. Bobby Jones Best Gospel/Inspirational Award
CeCe Winans – “Never Have to Be Alone”
Fantasia Feat. Tye Tribbett –”I Made It”
Kirk Franklin Feat. Sarah Reeves, Tasha Cobbs & Tamela Mann – “My World Needs You”
Lecrae – “Can’t Stop Me Now (Destination)”—WINNER
Tamela Mann – “God Provides”