The Black Entertainment Television airwaves were lighting up as the BET Awards brought its annual parade of black Hollywood and music industry talent to America, with the big winners including Nicki Minaj, Kevin Hart, Beyonce, Jay-Z and Kanye West, Big Sean and Frankie Beverly.
The show opened with Spike Lee joining host Samuel L. Jackson on the stage to deliver a hilarious rendition of Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “N*ggas in Paris”—except theirs was called “Negroes in Paris.”
Kanye West and Jay-Z won for Best Group and when Kanye went onstage to accept the award, apparently unaware that Jay-Z was in the house, he appeared shocked when Jay walked out to join him.
One of the funniest and surprising moments of the night came when Kevin Hart won for Best Actor, beating three of the most talented actors in the world—Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle and Idris Elba—and pretended at first that he knew all along that he was going to win because he obviously was more talented than the others. Hart’s performance in Think Like a Man, based on the book by Steve Harvey and Denene Millner, helped propel that movie to gross nearly $100 million.
An ongoing skit during the show was a continuation of the Kevin Hart version of “The Real Househusbands of Hollywood,” which he began during last year’s BET Awards. This one featured Samuel L. Jackson inviting himself over to Hart’s house, cooking food on his grill, denying plates to Hart’s overweight friend, and Hart being afraid to make him leave.
As she won the award for Best Gospel Artist, Yolanda Adams issued a plea to her artist friends in the crowd: “Please make sure you use your gift responsibly. Our babies are watching.”
And of course there was the long-awaited return of D’Angelo, who thrilled the crowd by sliding through offerings of his inspired soul brilliance, both new and old selections. There was a decidedly female slant to the audience members standing up and grooving to D’Angelo, including Beyonce and Solange Knowles (though nearby Kim Kardashian, with Kanye West on one side of her and Nicki Minaj on the other, stayed in her seat).
After D’Angelo was done, Samuel L. Jackson came back onstage and cracked, “Let’s take a break so some of you ladies can change into dry panties.”
Maze featuring Frankie Beverly won the Lifetime Achievement Award, as Beverly sat in the crowd and watched his songs performed by such acts as Joe, Tyrese, and Faith Evans.
As they kept cutting to Beverly, we saw Rev. Al Sharpton—fresh off his speech at Rodney King’s funeral yesterday—standing behind Beverly and clapping joyously. Rev. Al later won the Humanitarian Award.
Beverly came onstage to accept the award joined by his family, including his grandkids.
“Wait on the man a little bit, instead of asking him for everything, wait on him and he’ll show you some things,” Beverly said. “Y’all have kept us around for four decades. Some of y’all weren’t even born. Anybody who is pursuing this thing, get in it and do what you want to do. Don’t fall for the flavor of the week, baby…Play your music, no matter what it is.”
In the battle of the Beyonce-Jay-Z household, Jay-Z came out on top with Video of the Year, beating two Beyonce videos, another Jay-Kanye video and Usher. As he handed out the award, Jamie Foxx said, “There’s gonna be an argument up in the crib tonight! Who is the hottest in the household?” Beyonce acted like she was playfully punching Jay-Z as he stood up to get his award.
During his acceptance speech for the Humanitarian Award, Sharpton said, “Every night I got to sleep I have one thing in mind, when I wake up the next morning and my feet hit the ground, I want every bigot and unjust person in the world to say, ‘Damn he’s up again!’”