There were plenty of winners at the 2017 BET Awards in Los Angeles, but perhaps none bigger than two acts separated by more than three decades: Chance the Rapper and New Edition.
Many of the most prominent names in music came together in Los Angeles on Sunday for a night full of explosive performances, political and social commentary, and some next level promotion by Jamie Foxx (Baby Driver is out Friday if viewers somehow missed the many mentions he made).
Hosted by Saturday Night Live favorite Leslie Jones, the four-hour show (we will get back to that), celebrated the best in black culture. “This is the year of the black women being stars,” championed Jones, while others referenced the Black is Beautiful movement and stars like Black-ish‘s Yara Shahidi shared their thanks for the spotlight on the culture.
EW was in the house and has your full report on the highlights and lowlights.
Chance the Rapper owns the night
Let’s recap Chance the Rapper’s evening: He won Best New Artist, performed DJ Khaled’s No. 1 hit “I’m the One,” received a special shout out from Kendrick Lamar, and was introduced — via a heartfelt message — from his “friend” Michelle Obama. Chance also won the award for Humanitarian of the Year. That’s a life’s worth of achievements and it all happened in one night for the 24-year-old. And any time the “No Problem” rapper was mentioned throughout the show, the crowd reacted by screaming at the top of their lungs. Oh, and apparently, he found a babysitter in Shahidi.
Leslie Jones gets her turn as host
Being an SNL cast member, Jones is no stranger to live shows or observing up close and personal how to be a successful host, yet it was an uneven night for the Ghostbusters star, who was returning to the network where she made her television debut in the late ’90s. While it can’t be said that Jones lacked energy and enthusiasm, her material was extremely hit or miss, and leaned more towards the latter — at least in the building. Unlike many awards show hosts, Jones was constantly present, leading to some quality moments — including a good physical bit emulating a recent controversial Amber Rose Instagram shot — but most of the comedy fell flat, such as her taped segments and attempts at doing crowd work.
New Edition brings down the house
In a video package, Donnie Wahlberg opined, “If there was no New Edition, there would be no New Kids on the Block, no Boyz II Men, no Backstreet Boys, no *NSYNC, nothing.” The Lifetime Achievement Award came with much more than a trophy, as the group was honored in an extensive coronation. After an introduction from the cast of Girls Trip, the stars of BET’s biopic The New Edition Story, including Stranger Things‘ Caleb McLaughlin and Empire‘s Bryshere Gray, performed a string of the beloved boy band’s hits. Led by Bobby Brown, the six members then took the stage both to thank their fans (“Y’all have been there through thick and thin,” said Brown, “and I know I’ve been through some s—“) and to put on a show. More than three decades after making it big, they still had the magic, having the crowd rocking through the epic conclusion, when they were joined by the actors who played them in the miniseries.
Wide array of crowd-pleasing performances
Music took center stage on Sunday with a diverse collection of performances. Having the not-so-envious job of following Beyoncé’s 2016 opening, Bruno Mars kicked things off with an explosive and fun rendition of “Perm.” Big names like Mary J. Blige, Big Sean, and Kendrick Lamar also took the mic, but among the performances most well-received by the crowd were the soulful and intimate stylings of young Jessie Reyez and the upbeat and banging style of Migos.
The Remy Ma and Nicki Minaj beef adds a new twist
Remy Ma went “All the Way Up” to the stage as the Best Female Hip-Hop Artist. Ending her bitter rival Nicki Minaj’s seven-year reign as the winner, Remy garnered the biggest crowd reaction for any award. Remy — the musical partner of Fat Joe — concluded her acceptance speech with what those in attendance and online couldn’t help but assume was directed at the absent Minaj. Quoting her “Spaghetti” verse, she rapped, “Y’all b-s got fat while we starved/Shots in your ass, pads in your bras/Y’all some liars it ain’t no facts in your songs/And yeah that crown is coming back to the Bronx.” With Jones not pulling a Jimmy Kimmel or Ellen DeGeneres in feeding the crowd, it was fun to have some beef served.
The night that wouldn’t end
You know when you think a movie is about to end, but then it has a brief epilogue to cap things off? The BET Awards was like that, but with seven epilogues. Coming in at a not-brisk four hours, the show had the audience restless. That goes extra for the celebrities in attendance, with many acting like they were at a Lakers blowout loss and heading for the exits early. The most confusing part of the BET Awards being so long was that they barely handed out any awards. Of the 20-plus categories, the amount of hardware given during the show was in the single digits. Taraji P. Henson and Mahershala Ali fans, see the full winner’s list below.
Best Female R&B/Pop Artist
Best Male R&B/Pop Artist
CHANCE THE RAPPER FT. 2 CHAINZ & LIL WAYNE – “NO PROBLEM”
MIGOS FT. LIL UZI VERT – “BAD AND BOUJEE”
Best Male Hip-Hop Artist
Best Female Hip-Hop Artist
Video of the Year
BEYONCÉ – “SORRY”
BRUNO MARS – “24K MAGIC”
Video Director of the Year
KAHLIL JOSEPH & BEYONCÉ KNOWLES-CARTER – BEYONCÉ “SORRY”
Best New Artist
CHANCE THE RAPPER
Album of the Year
LEMONADE – BEYONCÉ
Dr. Bobby Jones Best Gospel/Inspirational Award
LECRAE – “CAN’T STOP ME NOW (DESTINATION)”
TARAJI P. HENSON
Sportswoman of the Year Award
Sportsman of the Year Award
SOLANGE – “CRANES IN THE SKY”
Coca-Cola Viewers’ Choice Awards
BEYONCE – “SORRY”