Sunday’s 15th annual BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater in downtown L.A. celebrated black — well, mostly black or “Black-ish” — stars from music, television, radio, film and sports. Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson did a fine job hosting and broke up the usual monotonous line of comedians who poke fun at hip-hop artists who sit in the first few rows.
The show continued its great tradition of nostalgic performances with musical numbers from Patti LaBelle, Smokey Robinson and Sean “Diddy” Combs’ Bad Boy Entertainment. Tinashe, Jason Derulo and Ciara also performed a dance tribute to Ultimate Icon honoree Janet Jackson. This year’s show also allotted exactly one song and one song only for the Gospel genre — and what would the BET Awards be without a couple of white jokes?
“Sam Smith isn’t here tonight because he’s white and he didn’t think he would win,” joked Anderson as he accepted the New Artist Award in full Sam Smith attire — brown, straight-haired wig and all.
Here are the 5 best and worst moments from the 2015 BET Awards.
BEST: Bad Boy Records formerly, Bad Boy Entertainment, celebrated its 20th year.
Sean “Diddy” Combs, formerly known as “Puffy,” performed with stars, old and new, including Mase, Lil Kim, Faith Evans, 112, The Lox’s Jadakiss and Styles P. They broke out ’90s hits including, “Peaches and Cream,” “All About the Benjamins” and “Love Like This” with a posthumous video performance from Notorious B.I.G. There were still questions in the audience of why the label’s first breakout star, Craig Mack, didn’t show up. It didn’t stop the crowd form chanting “Bad Boy” after the act was over.
WORST: Diddy showed everyone that he still has moves 20 years later, but he took a misstep into the crowd pit causing him to fall during the reunion performance.
He must have been too nervous. At least that was the excuse after the Bad Boy founder also stumbled while presenting Smokey Robinson with the Lifetime Achievement Award. “We just celebrated 20 years, and it’s like a big deal for me,” explained Combs.
BEST: Smokey Robinson accepted his award with a prayer and some advice.
During his speech, he brought some wisdom to the younger generation of musicians. “This fantastic world of show business is like a bittersweet wine, it’s intoxicating and there are so many people in the world that are sitting in line to get a taste,” he started. “For those of you who are fortunate enough to get a taste and to get drunk on yourselves and to become self-absorbed is ridiculous… You should be thankful.”
WORST: Rapper Nicki Minaj wins so much that she forgot the name of the award that she was accepting mid-speech.
“What was this award for?” Minaj asked. When told it was the Viewers’ Choice Award, she recovered nicely and delivered encouragement to young people to follow their dreams. (She also monopolizes the hip-hop artist category.)
BEST: “Empire’s” Jussie Smollett thanked the Supreme Court for the recent decision on marriage equality.
“No one is free until we are all free,” Smollett said. As he shared the stage with “Empire” co-stars Bryshere “Yazz” Gray and Serayah during a performance of “You’re So Beautiful,” Smollett also remixed the lyrics: “This the kind of song where a man loves a man, you’re so beautiful and I don’t care who knows.” With the crowd on their feet in applause, Smollett ordered them to “stand for love.”
WORST: For whatever reason, BET continues to have a miniature conveyor belt for presenters to use before announcing awards.
The airport staple seems like no place for the stage considering the number of female presenters who had a hard time finding their footing.
BEST: “Black-ish” co-hosts, Ross and Anderson, took a go at being another TV couple.
The two brought the drama to the stage as they assumed the roles of Cookie and Lucious Lyon before Terrence Howard stepped in and introduced his “Empire” TV family who performed a selection of songs from the series.
WORST: Rihanna’s sneak peak of “B—h Better Have My Money” video was ruined for awards show guests.
Throughout the night, celebrities were kidnapped by Rihanna, including Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker — because they didn’t have her money. Unfortunately, the big build-up was spoiled for the audience with the sound of Fetty Wap’s “Trap Queen” playing too early. (It was scheduled as the final performance of the evening.)
BEST: Nicki Minaj introduced the world to her mother.
While accepting her first award of the night for female hip-hop Artist, she gave special thanks to her mom, who stood beside her onstage.
WORST: Busta Rhymes should no longer be invited for skits at awards shows.
In what was supposed to be the introduction to Meek Mill’s “The Get Back,” Rhymes was unprepared to take a simple Instagram photo for Ross and Anderson with singer Tori Kelly. Anderson outed the “Touch It” rapper when he told the audience, “This bit was rehearsed, you should’ve been ready.”