Before the 10th annual BET Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday night (June 27), N.E.R.D kicked off a pre-show by performing “Hot and Fun” on a Murakami-inspired flatbed truck, surrounded by fans.
Afterward, the guys chatted with “106 & Park” hosts Rocsi and Terrence J about their most anticipated show performances. “I got to see my man ’Ye do it,” Pharrell said of Kanye West’s opening performance at the main show. “It’s gonna be hot.”
Atlanta MC B.o.B followed, rocking his hit “Nothin’ on You,” featuring a new singer, Rico Barrino, filling in for Bruno Mars. Barrino, who is the brother of “American Idol” winner Fantasia, recently joined B.o.B as an artist on T.I.’s Grand Hustle record label, and their performance served as the singer’s introduction.
T.I. came out to chat with B.o.B and Barrino following their performance. “This is my first time actually attending and being nominated three times,” B.o.B said. “I feel like three [nominations are] a charm.”
“I’m looking forward to the surprise performances,” T.I. added, donning a blue suit with a matching tie. “[B.o.B] don’t even know yet, but I hooked it up. I got you performing on the big stage. So I’m looking forward to that performance, and it’s going to be a collaboration that the world ain’t ready for.”
In a nod to “Glee,” the Crenshaw High Elite choir sang renditions of each of the Viewer’s Choice Award nominees a capella, including Beyoncé’s “Sweet Dreams,” Rihanna’s “Hard” (featuring Young Jeezy), Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” (featuring Alicia Keys), Trey Songz’s “Say Ahh” (featuring Fabolous), Monica’s “Everything to Me” and Young Money’s “Bedrock” (featuring Lloyd).
Jermaine Dupri and his newest So So Def songstress Dondria were next up, dressed in all white and sporting a purple foxtail — a trend for the evening. The pair performed a Bootsy Collins-inspired remix of Dondria’s single “You’re the One” over the beat of “I’d Rather Be With You.”
A new West Coast group called CaliSwag followed with their performance of “Teach Me How to Dougie” before Drake chatted with Nick Cannon, who was also hosting the pre-show’s red carpet.
“I’m performing this song called ’Fireworks,’ a bit of ’Over’ and a surprise,” Drake teased.
Cannon also asked the wildy popular MC about his honesty on his debut LP, Thank Me Later. “When I was trying to figure out what approach I was going to take, none of the stories made sense,” said Drake, sporting a black leather jacket, white tee, jeans and sunglasses. “I was like, ’If I’m really going to do this and really take it somewhere, I’ve really got to be myself.’ So the more and more I started doing it, the more open I became and the more I was willing to share with my audience. Those are the best compliments: ’I love your music, I relate to it.’ So I’m going to keep it going.”
Performances by Mishon and Roscoe Dash followed (some of their dancers also sporting foxtails), and Soulja Boy Tell’em debuted his new single “Pretty Boy Swag” in an all-white outfit, complete with his signature white sunglasses.
However, the standout moment was Nicki Minaj’s all-white bustier and flowing skirt with a train, topped with an orange Marilyn Monroe wig.
“Young Money better win something, because ’Bedrock’ is platinum,” Nicki told Cannon when asked what she was anticipating, before adding that last year, “I was watching this on TV.”
Before the pre-show (which saw visits from Cassie, Lauren London, Ciara, J. Cole, Taraji P. Henson, Rick Ross, Diddy and Ludacris) ended, the president of BET, Deborah Lee, shared a little secret about Prince’s Lifetime Achievement Award tribute.
“I know it’s going to be an all-female tribute, and I did hear a little rumor that Patti LaBelle is one of the women,” Lee said. “I know it’s going to be fabulous.”
What were your favorite pre-show performances? Let us know in the comments!