ATLANTA — At the Atlanta Civic Center, [artist id="1243444"]Young Jeezy[/artist] — who often has high-profile guests to join him onstage — pulled off a huge move during the BET Hip-Hop Awards, kicking off the show by bringing out surprise guest [artist id="1269"]Jay-Z[/artist]. Hov and Young opened the show with "As Real As It Gets," with the two hip-hop heavyweights going back and forth on verses. With the audience on their feet by song's end, Jeezy said, "Welcome to Atlanta."
Jay later took home the MVP of the Year award, beating out such popular peers as [artist id="510062"]Lil Wayne[/artist] and [artist id="2545682"]Drake[/artist]. Hov dedicated his win to Mr. Magic, [artist id="1133"]Snoop Dogg[/artist] and [artist id="9619"]Ice Cube[/artist]. "Brooklyn, we did it again," he said at the conclusion of his brief speech.
Other big winners announced during the show were Drake for Rookie of the Year and [artist id="1562979"]DJ AM[/artist] for DJ of the Year.
Busta Rhymes stood in for the turntable great, who passed away in August. "I'm honored to accept this," he said. Rhymes also saluted his recently deceased personal DJ, Roc Raida, and pioneer Mr. Magic who formatted his New York radio show with 100 percent hip-hop in the 1980s.
DJ Drama was the house DJ, with DJ Khaled serving as the show's MC. Mike Epps, the show's host, did a short stand-up routine as he cracked the mic, clowning on everyone from Lil Mama to Snoop Dogg. And after Faboulous performed "Throw it in the Bag" and its remix with The-Dream, the crowd was treated with some throwback flavor.
As Fonzworth Bentley and the New Boyz announced the nominees for Rookie of the Year, legendary hip-hop duo Kid 'N Play made their way onstage. The Boyz had proclaimed to be rap's first two-man team to dance as well as rock the mic, prompting Kid 'N Play's entrance to "Rollin' With Kid and Play" to perform their signature dance.
One of the standout stars of the show was ATL's Gucci Mane, who performed several times throughout the night, changing into outfits that included his snow-white fur and jewelry pieces like his outrageous iced-out egg beater. Gucci first came out with Mario for "Break Up" and then took over the stage, bringing out Plies for "Wasted." Gucci also appeared with Soulja Boy, OJ Da Juiceman and a umbrella-toting Shawty Lo for "Gucci Bandana." Mr. Mane's night ended with Wale as they performed the stage debut of "Pretty Girls."
Snoop Dogg also logged multiple stage appearances, debuting his own new record, "Gangsta Luv," with The-Dream (transitioning into a finale of "Gin and Juice") and keeping the crowd on their feet during a surprise highlight, Dorrough's "Ice Cream Paint Job" remix — a remix that included the song's star as well as Jim Jones, Soulja Boy and Nipsey Hussle.
Ice Cube was honored with the I Am Hip-Hop award, with an introductory video that included a voice-over from Dr. Dre. "From that first rhyme he spit for me, I knew Cube was a star," Dre said. The award was presented to the former N.W.A member by Young Jeezy and Cube's favorite MC, Chuck D.
"Without Chuck D, we'd be on a real bad collision course," Cube said in his speech. The legendary trailblazer also called for the hip-hop nation to do "what we feel" and encouraged old b-boys to "keep doing your music" and not let anybody push them out. "As long as you got a tongue, you're not too old to rap," he added.
During breaks, BET showed videotaped packages of their now-famous "cypher" rap sessions. DJ Premier played a beat while three sets of MCs rapped. The first set included KRS-One and Wale, while the second set showcased Joe Budden and Nicki Minaj. The rhyme of the night went to Eminem, however — his session included Black Thought and Mos Def. Em hit a rapid-fire flow that addressed everything from sex to Barack Obama.
Veterans the Goodie Mob ended the night with powerful, high-octane renditions of their classics "Cell Therapy" and "Get Rich to This." It was the group's first televised reunion after nearly a decade apart and had the entire audience singing along in their hometown.