As big as it gets: Jay-Z won the BET Hip-Hop Awards' MVP of the Year trophy, beating Lil Wayne, Drake, T.I. and Kanye West. Hov also opened the show with a performance of "As Real as It Gets" with Young Jeezy. Taped earlier this month in Atlanta and aired Tuesday night (October 27), the ceremony showcased the hip-hop nation, from the New Boyz to OGs like Jigga.
"Opened up the BET Awards, me and Jay-Z," Jeezy told Mixtape Daily of his performance the day after the show taped. "Shouts out to the homie, man, he stopped through. He was on his way to another show. But that's what we do. Real ones do real things. I just wanted to do something big for the city. Since the song is on both of our albums, we gonna shoot the video. It's gonna be crazy. We said, 'Let's go ahead and break it in at the BET Awards.' "
And while Jay faced stiff competition, Ice Cube didn't have to go up against anybody to win. He was honored with the prestigious lifetime-achievement "I Am Hip-Hop" award.
"Ice Cube, I think, is everybody's OG at this point in the game," Bun B said on the show's red carpet. "One thing Ice Cube brought to the game I don't think they give him credit for is sincerity, being real about what you say and really mean it. When Cube told the 'hood to stand up, he really meant that. He wasn't just throwing words and ideas around. When he said to check yourself, he meant it. The ups and downs we've had in the community, Ice Cube was always there to be honest and sincere with his words, his songs and his actions."
Jeezy co-presented the award alongside Ice Cube's favorite rapper.
"Without Chuck D, we'd be on a real bad collision course," Cube proclaimed during his acceptance speech.
Other performers on the show included the Goodie Mob, Snoop Dogg and Gucci Mane, who got a chance to perform all his big hits of the last few months, including "Break Up" and "Wasted." Even the legendary Kid 'N Play snuck in a dance step. Some of the most talked-about performances of the night were the ones that didn't happen in-house. Several rap cyphers were taped, resulting in standout verses from KRS-One, Eminem, Nicki Minaj and Joe Budden.
Em's verse was a fence-clearing homerun as he brought his distinctive cadence and semi-automatic handgun flow.
"Wow! I need to hear the unedited version!" DJ Drama, who DJed the awards show, said of Em's bars. "The crowd in the house went crazy! They were so excited to even see Eminem in a cypher. He's one of the greatest spitters of all time."
Mike Epps got a chance to do a little bit of stand-up during the show. He used the opportunity to rib some of the famous audience members, like Snoop. But you knew that was going to happen.
"Hey, man, I'm cracking everybody," Epps forecasted on the red carpet with a grin. "I gotta keep it secret [who I'm going to target]. ... It's gonna be family fun. Everybody knows the inside jokes of everybody around here. It's gonna be fun, though."
Rick Ross said he and his group, the Triple C's, were just taking in the night and enjoying the unity.
"Every time this rolls around, I just reflect on the beginning of my career," Ross said on the red carpet. "When I was a fan at home looking at all the legends, eating a bowl of Cap'n Crunch, just dreaming. For me to be here, for my team to be here, and be happy to see other artists, none of that artist animosity. So if you're at home and waiting for your day to get here, I relate to you, because I was you."
BET head honcho Stephen Hill said it took a unified front to make the show happen.
"It takes pretty much everybody in the company with some type of dedicated effort to put a show on like this," Hill said. The co-president of programming for the channel also said that the person he looked forward to seeing the most was Snoop Dogg.
"Most people would shy and deflect that question," Hill said. "I've had a 17-year thing with Snoop Dogg. I love to see Snoop Dogg attack the stage. He has that same hunger in 2009 as he did in 1992."
Some other winners announced during the show were Drake for Rookie of the Year and DJ AM for DJ of the Year.