The inaugural BET Experience served as an anchor to the big show for the weekend: the 2013 BET Awards. Since its inception in 2001, the BET Awards has highlighted the best and brightest in music, film, television and entertainment. This year was no different. Comedian host Chris Tucker entertained the masses with his witty antics and over-the-top punchlines (the show’s tagline was “Anything Can Happen”), even adding a nostalgic tribute to friend and entertainer Michael Jackson. The night was a true celebration of Black excellence.
Don Cheadle presented Miguel with the evening’s first award, Best Male R&B Pop Artist, and dedicated the night to activist Nelson Mandela, still currently in critical condition. “We want to take a moment and send our prayers and thoughts to a man who literally changed the world,” said Cheadle. “We would like to offer prayers and support and hope to the extraordinary Nelson Mandela and his family.”
Newcomer Kendrick Lamar, who performed “Don’t Kill My Vibe” with Erykah Badu, was certainly the shining star of the evening. Despite being absent to accept his first award, the Compton-bred MC—who won both Best New Artist and Best Male Hip-Hop Artist—gave an inspirational speech to fans and supporters. “This is living proof that you can do anything you put your mind to,” said Lamar. “Keep God, love, respect and hard work in your heart and you can do anything you want to do.”
At a show where seemingly anything coul happen, Justin Timberlake presented legendary soul singer Charlie Wilson with a coveted Lifetime Achievement Award. “Charlie Wilson is soul music,” Timberlake said of the former Gap Band singer. “His impact colors the work of many artists... which is basically my nice way of saying I and a lot of other artists have stolen from him.”
In addition to Timberlake, Stevie Wonder, Jamie Foxx, Pharrell, Snoop Dogg and India.Arie all paid homage to 60-year-old Charlie Wilson, with a spectacular tribute reminiscent of a Black family reunion homecoming. They performed Gap Band hits like “Outstanding,” leading the evening with one of the night’s best performances.
Due to sparse competition in the genre, Nicki Minaj unsurprisingly picked up her fourth consecutive win for Best Female Hip-Hop Artist. The modern-day queen of rap also performed alongside Chris Brown and Ciara, contributing to their dance-centered performances.
A socially responsible Jamie Foxx, wearing a shirt featuring a picture of Trayvon Martin, won Best Actor and (inspired by advice from Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier) spoke about social responsibility in the arts.
Janelle Monáe ended the nearly four-hour event with a performance of “Q.U.E.E.N.” alongside Erykah Badu, who performed for the second time that evening.
Other big winners included Drake, Mary Mary, A$AP Rocky, Dwayne Wade, Lebron James, Gabrielle Douglas and the Will Packer produced hit film, Think Like a Man. The movie’s all-star cast was all on site to accept the award, including Kevin Hart, Terrence J, LaLa Anthony, Gabrielle Union, Regina King and Taraji P. Henson.
For a full list of winners, see below.—Kimberly Wilson
Female R&B/Pop Artist
Male R&B/Pop Artist
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
A$AP Rocky f/Drake, 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar, “Problems”
Male Hip-Hop Artist
Female Hip-Hop Artist
Video of the Year
Drake, “Started from the Bottom”
Video Director of the Year
Young Stars Award
Think Like a Man
Subway Sportswoman of the Year
Subway Sportsman of the Year
Coca-Cola Viewers Choice Award
Drake, “Started from the Bottom”
Tamar Braxton, “Love and War”
International Act: Africa
Ice Prince (Nigeria)
International Act: UK
Lifetime Achievement Award