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On the scene at BET's Hip-Hop Awards

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Lilwaynebet_lI just got back from the taping of the 2008 BET Hip-Hop Awards at the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center on Saturday. It should have been called the Lil Wayne Awards because the night was all about him. The New Orleans rapper dominated the winners’ circle, picking up trophies for MVP, Lyricist of the Year, and People’s Champ, and he announced during one of his acceptance speeches that he’s “got a son onthe way any day now” before asking the audience to “pray for that.” Oddly, Wayne didn’t perform any of his own hits, but he rocked the mic with T-Pain — who also played host, filling in as a last-minute replacement for Katt Williams — and jumped on stage to mosh out with Busta Rhymes and Swizz Beatz while Common and N.E.R.D. performed “Spazz.”

Other performers included T.I. and Ludacris (“Sitting on Top of the World”), Nas (“Hero”), and Young Jeezy (“Crazy World”). But it was the ladies who stole the show with an old-school tribute to female rappers, featuring MC Lyte, Yo-Yo, the Lady of Rage, and Salt-N-Pepa, who dedicated their 1993 classic “Whatta Man” to presidential hopeful Barack Obama. (Queen Latifah was notably absent and sorely missed.)

Trophies were also handed out to DJ Khaled (Best Hip-Hop Collabo), Shawty Lo (Rookie of the Year), and Russell Simmons, who received the I Am Hip-Hop Icon award, though the full roster of winners won’t be revealed until the show airs on BET on Oct. 23.

Following an anticlimactic closing performance by Bow Wow and Soulja Boy (“Marco Polo”), I went to dinner at Straits, a hot spot co-owned by Ludacris, who held court downstairs while Russell Simmons entertained guests upstairs. Then it was off to the Mason Murer Fine Art Gallery for Ne-Yo’s birthday bash, which was a fine hot mess. Far from being an exclusive star-studded affair befitting the man who’s penned hits for everyone from Beyoncé to Rihanna, it was essentially open to the public because no one was at the door to check the guest list. Inside, it looked like a poorly lit prom for tacky adults who were way too excited about rubbing elbows with Jermaine Dupri, Young Jeezy, Mychael Knight (Project Runway), and NeNe and Lisa from Bravo’s Real Housewives of Atlanta.

Though several other post-show events were happening around town — including a massive fete at Dreamz hosted by T.I. and Lil Wayne, who I’d already seen and heard enough of at the Civic Center — my friends and I called it a night shortly after 2 a.m. Can you blame us? More importantly, will you tune in to watch the show when it airs? And what happened to Katt Williams?