The 2018 BET Awards took place this past weekend on June 24, marking the 18th year the annual event has occurred. The BET Awards is a ceremony that was established by the Black Entertainment Television network back in 2001 which is dedicated to recognizing the achievements of African Americans and other American minorities in music, acting, sports, and other areas of entertainment over the year. About 20 different awards are presented to winners throughout the night, with special guests and performances woven into the show.
Hosts from past years include Leslie Jones, Anthony Anderson and Chris Rock. This year, the awards show was hosted by Jamie Foxx… But in his words, he was not there to “host”, but to “celebrate”. Aside from introducing performance guests and giving short monologues, Foxx was featured in a comedy skit presented at the show alongside Michael Blackson, inspired by the Black Panther film and Jamie Foxx’s old character “Wanda” from the 90s comedy series In Living Color. See the clip below.
While the crowd can be heard in the background cheering and laughing, some of the comments on the YouTube page were less than happy with the clip: “Silly. Just no”, “Buffoon Entertainment Television…… Wack”, and “So Corny” are some of the comments from the video.
On a more serious note, Jamie Foxx made a powerful statement when he took a moment to address the untimely death of rapper XXXTentacion, who was killed in a shooting just earlier that week. Here’s what he said:
I want to take a moment to acknowledge this young man, this young brother was killed earlier this week. No matter where you start, you got the opportunity to change. I think what needs to happen, and in the risk of sounding old, we can’t get too used to these types of things. I think we’re too used to young people being killed, it’s like we don’t even trip anymore. We gotta adjust our satellite just a bit… We all have to figure out a way to not become too used to what’s going on right now. If you can in your music, if you can in any of your entertainment, if you can, try to sneak a message in there… I’m not saying that we can stop everything, but we gotta figure something out.
With the heaviness out of the way, let’s take a look at the winners of this year’s awards.
Album of the Year
Kendrick Lamar took home the award for Album of the Year with his album DAMN. The 14-track project was released on April 14, just two weeks after the deadline for the previous year’s awards. DAMN. is Lamar’s fourth studio album and includes only three features: Rihanna, Zacari, and U2. The album had already won Album of the Year in the 2017 BET Hip-Hop Awards, Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album at the 2017 American Music Awards, Best Rap Album at the 2018 Grammy Awards and Hip-Hop Album of the Year at the 2018 iHeartRadio Music Awards, just to name a few of its accolades. It even became the first rap album to win a Pulitzer Prize for Music. The album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart. Nominees for the award this year included Jay-Z’s 4:44, SZA’s Ctrl, and Migos’ Culture II.
Video of the Year
Drake won the award for Video of the Year with his music video for his single, “God’s Plan”. Originally released on January 19th as part of his Scary Hours EP. The track was produced by DJ Silent Assassin, Cardo, Boi-1da, and Yung Exclusive, and became Drake’s 29th song to debut at the #1 spot on the US Billboard Hot 100. The music video was released about a month later and claims to have given away the entire budget of the music video, which was $996,631.90. The music video itself shows him giving away the money to students, individuals, and organizations around the Miami area. Nominees for the award category included the videos for Bruno Mars’ “Finesse (Remix)” featuring Cardi B, DJ Khaled’s “Wild Thoughts” featuring Rihanna and Bryson Tiller, and Kendrick Lamar’s “HUMBLE.”.
The winners of the award for Best Collaboration this year were DJ Khaled, Rihanna and Bryson Tiller for their “Wild Thoughts” track. The track was released on June 16, 2017 as a single off of DJ Khaled’s album, Grateful. The production of the track heavily draws on samples from Carlos Santana’s song “Maria Maria”. In an interview with Billboard Santana heaped praise on the artists’ rendition of his track, saying “There is a reason that the infectious groove/theme that Wyclef and I created on ‘Maria Maria’ still resonates today, it speaks to the heart. DJ Khaled, Rihanna and Bryson take that vibe and bring it to a new dimension with ‘Wild Thoughts,’ but the groove and essence of the song is still intact.” The song peaked at the #3 spot on the US Billboard Hot 100.
Best R&B/Pop Artists
This year’s Best Female R&B/Pop Artist was awarded to Beyoncé, and the Best Male R&B/Pop Artist was awarded to Bruno Mars. A year earlier, Beyoncé won the awards for Album of the Year (Lemonade) and Best Female R&B/Pop Artist. Bruno Mars had won the same award for male R&B/Pop artists the year before as well, and tied with Beyoncé’s “Sorry” for Video of the Year with “24K Magic.” Over the years, Beyoncé has racked up 60 nominations overall at the BET Awards, making her the most nominated artists in BET history by a margin of 23. Bruno Mars has tallied up a total of eight nominations.
Best Hip-Hop Artists
The awards for Best Female and Male Hip-Hop Artists this year went out to Cardi B and Kendrick Lamar, respectively. Even though Cardi B’s album was released just five days after the cutoff to be acknowledged at this year’s BET Awards, she’s still been making waves on the scene. Her 2017 hit single “Bodak Yellow” peaked at the top of the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and went 5x Platinum in the US. Her “Be Careful” single off of her debut album peaked at #11 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Although she was in attendance last year, Cardi was absent this year due to the travel restrictions brought up by her pregnancy. As for Kendrick Lamar, his reputation precedes him: he had one of, if not the best album of 2017. Additionally, his work on the Black Panther album garnered a nomination for the Album of the Year.
This year, the Migos won the award for Best Duo/Group. Other nominations included N.E.R.D., Rae Sremmurd, A Tribe Called Quest, and Chloe x Halle, but the Migos proved to be stiff competition with the release of their Culture II album. Not only did the group come in strong with their album, but they’ve been putting in work individually, too. Since the beginning of 2017, Quavo has featured on 13 tracks, Offset on 20 tracks, and Takeoff on one. Music aside, Migos as a group have gained a little more spotlight due to the relationship between Cardi B and Offset, who are expecting a child very soon.
Best New Artist
The award for Best New Artist at this year’s BET Awards was given to SZA. She was also nominated for Best Female R&B/Pop Artist, as well as Album of the Year for her debut studio album Ctrl. Her “Love Galore” single off of the album did exceptionally well, making its way up to the #32 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and going 2x Platinum. SZA signed to the hip-hop super-label Top Dawg Entertainment back in 2013, making her the first and only female artist to be signed to the label. Other artists nominated for the category were A Boogie wit da Hoodie, Daniel Caesar, GoldLink and H.E.R.
Viewers’ Choice Award
Officially dubbed the Coca-Cola Viewers’ Choice Award, this award is for a song determined by
a fan vote. This year’s winner was Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow”. The song was a huge success for
Cardi B, officially putting her on the map as well as radio waves across the country. The Washington Post and Pitchfork named it the best song of 2017, with Billboard, Rolling Stone, and Entertainment Weekly, giving it second place, fourth place, and eight place, respectively. At the 2017 BET Hip Hop Awards, the song won Single of the Year and was nominated for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song at the 60th Grammy Awards.
Best Gospel/Inspirational Award
Officially titled the Dr. Bobby Jones Best Gospel/Inspirational Award, this award is given to a contemporary gospel artist, determined by the sales and overall quality of the music released within the year. The award was originally “Best Gospel Artist”, but changed in 2017. This year’s winner of the award was Lecrae’s “I’ll Find You”, featuring Tori Kelly. Lecrae, a Christian rapper out of Houston, had won the award the previous year for his track “Can’t Stop Me Now (Destination)”. “I’ll Find You” was released as a single off of Lecrae’s album All Things Work Together. Lecrae actually gave a statement on the message behind the piece:
Life is a precious gift. A gift we often take for granted until it is threatened. Pain can be a haunting reminder to appreciate every waking moment. So we wrote a song to share our hope in the midst of that pain. At the time of this song’s composition, some of our loved ones were battling cancer. We wanted to encourage them to hold on and tell them we are here waiting, hoping, praying, and fighting with them. Some have been released from their pain forever, others are still fighting. Hold on.
Originally, the Her Award was called the BET J Cool Like That Award, then was renamed to the BET Centric Award. The award had first recognized neo-soul and R&B artists, but now recognizes significant songs from female hip-hop and R&B artists. This year’s winner was Mary J. Blige’s “Strength of a Woman”. The song is featured on the album of the same name, Strength of a Woman, which was released April 28, 2017. The album debuted at the #3 spot on the US Billboard 200 chart. Blige had been nominated for the same award the year before for a single off the same album, titled “Thick of It”, but lost to Solange’s “Cranes in the Sky”. Other nominees for this year’s Her Award included Janelle Monáe’s “Django Jane”, Remy Ma’s “Melanin Magic (Pretty Brown)”, and Leikeli47’s “2nd Fiddle”.
Video Director of the Year
Not all the awards at the BET Awards have to do with music. BET awarded Ava DuVernay Video Director of the Year, winning the award over other nominees like Benny Boom, Director X and Chris Brown. DuVernay is an accomplished filmmaker known for her work on the movies Selma and 13th, which earned her nominations for a Golden Globe Award and the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, respectively. This year, DuVernay earned the Director of the Year Award for directing the film A Wrinkle in Time, which made her the first African-American woman to direct a film that earned at least $100 million domestically. DuVernay has directed over 10 films, but A Wrinkle in Time her first big-budget film. Past winners of the award have included Kahlil Joseph, Beyoncé, Director X, Ed Burke and Todd Tourso.
This year, the award for Best Actor was given to Chadwick Boseman. Boseman’s biggest role of the year was as T’Challa, the Black Panther in the Black Panther movie. In 2017, Boseman also starred as Thurgood Marshall in the film Marshall. Other films that Boseman has been in include The Express, Draft Day, and Message from the King. Nominees for this year’s Best Actor Award included Denzel Washington, Sterling K. Brown, Michael B. Jordan, and Donald Glover. Past winners include names like Mahershala Ali, Michael B. Jordan, and Terrence Howard.
The award for Best Actress this year was given to Tiffany Haddish. Before Haddish got into acting, she was focused on doing comedy. However, after gaining some attention for her role as Jackie on the OWN television drama If Loving You Is Wrong in 2014, she started to get more involved. She made her first appearance on the big screen for the 2017 film Girls Trip. In 2018, she was included on Time’s annual list of the 100 most influential people of the year. Other actresses that were in contention for the award included Angela Bassett, Issa Rae, Taraji P. Henson and Lupita Nyong’o.
Young Stars Award
Yara Shahidi was the winner of this year’s Young Stars Award. Shahidi is an 18-year-old actress and model who is best known for her role as Zoey Johnson on the sitcom Black-ish and a spin-off series called Grown-ish. Black-ish has been running since 2014, winning numerous awards and nominated for dozens more. Along with her acting and modeling career, Shahidi has founded Eighteen x 18, which is a platform intended to encourage young adults to vote. She also founded Yara’s Club in partnership with Young Women’s Leadership Network of New York, which hopes to end poverty through education and provides online mentorship. This year’s nominees included Caleb McLaughlin, Lonnie Chavis, Marsai Martin, and Miles Brown.
Best International Act
Up against stiff competition, Nigerian singer Davido came out on top and was named this year’s Best International Act. Davido has only one studio album and one EP out, but has released a number of singles throughout 2017, including “Pere”, which features Rae Sremmurd and Young Thug. Some of his other notable singles include “Gobe”, “Skelewu”, and “Aye”. In July 2016, Davido signed adeal with Sony’s RCA Records. Other artists in contention for the award this year were Stormzy, Stefflon Don, J Hus, Fally Ipupa, and Tiwa Savage.
There had been a couple other awards given out that night as well, recognizing athletes Serena Williams and LeBron James, but also humanitarians like Mamoudou Gassama. Outside of the awards, performances were given by Jay Rock, J. Cole, Migos, Miguel, and Snoop Dogg, just to name a few. A stand-out act of the night was an emotional performance by Meek Mill of the song “Stay Woke”, which focuses on police brutality and social injustice. Meek has recently been released from prison after serving five months while his controversial trial over a parole violation continues. You can watch that performance below.
Before the festivities were underway, a little drama unfolded right as rehearsals were getting underway. TMZ reports that Nipsey got into a dispute with a security guard outside of the venue over whether or not Nipsey could move cones to drive through a restricted area. Check out that video below!