Amid some bumps and technical issues, the 2017 BET Awards brought black excellence to the forefront with a celebration of music, film and young talent.
Bruno Mars opened the show with his signature choreography in a spirited performance of his uptempo track, “Perm.”
After the performance, Saturday Night Live‘s Leslie Jones took to the stage to amp up the crowd for the night’s festivities. Wearing a knee brace, the comedian joked about her upcoming 50th birthday and how she considered herself “old school,” which drew some laughs.
Dear White People’s Logan Browning and All Eyez on Me star Demetrius Shipp, Jr. announced the first award of the night which went to Migos for best group.
While music stayed the focus for much of the evening, Detroit actors Laz Alonzo, Jacob Latimore, Jason Mitchell, Algee Smith, took time to mention the names of young men and women of color who were killed by police.
They introduced Solange as the winner of the Centric Award for “Cranes in the Sky,” who acknowledged BET for helping to bring images of color to her television screen as a young child.
Some of the performances during the night included French Montana, dressed in a white dashiki to honor the motherland with his song “Unforgettable” featuring the artist Swae Lee; Migos and Post Malone, who performed their song “Congratulations”; and Migos later reenergizing their fans with their hit “Bad and Boujee.”
Chris Brown performed “Privacy,” and brought Gucci Mane out for their song “Party.”
Diddy presented the award for best new artist to Chance the Rapper and then plugged his documentary, Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop, which became available Sunday night on Apple music.
During the second hour of the show, Mary J. Blige was seemingly uncensored as she sang about her relationship and went into her new song “Love Yourself,” with A$AP Rocky.
Jamie Foxx presented Bruno Mars with the Best Male R&B/Pop Artist award while plugging his upcoming film, Baby Driver.
In addition to performances from award show regulars like Trey Songz, who performed “Nobody Else but You,”; Big Sean, who performed “Bounce Back,” Tamar Braxton, who belted out “My Man”; and Maxwell who sang, “Gods,” some newcomers took the stage.
Khalid performed his soulful “Location,” and crowd favorite SZA performed “Love Galore” and “The Weekend.”
Black-ish star Yara Shahidi, who won the Young Stars Award, and made a moving speech acknowledging what would have been Tamir Rice’s 15th birthday.
Nineties girl group Xscape also performed and stunned the crowd with some of their hits including “Understanding” “Who Can I Run To” and “Just Kickin”.
Future performed “Mask Off” and brought out Compton’s own Kendrick Lamar to back him up.
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