Mike Epps Says His Jokes Make BET Hip-Hop Awards 'Festive'

'It's just so nice that I can come here and crack my jokes in between bringing them out,' comedian tells MTV News of tonight's performers.

You wouldn't know it from all the drama-filled headlines, but the 2012 BET Hip-Hop Awards had a gang of fun moments. MTV News was on hand on September 29 inside the Atlanta Civic Center in Georgia for the taping of the annual rap celebration and there was no shortage of laughs thanks to the show's host Mike Epps.

"It's an honor for me to be hosting for the 44th time. I'm back again," the star comedian told MTV News during show rehearsals.

Of course the "Next Friday" funnyman was being factious, seeing as how the award ceremony has only been around seven years. Still it's already an institution that hip-hop's biggest and brightest look forward to each and every year. "We have new artists every year to come and perform here at the BET Hip-Hop Awards, and it's just so nice that I can come here and crack my jokes in between bringing them out," he said. "It just makes it a festive and beautiful, fun atmosphere."

Kanye West leads with 17 nominations on the show, which airs Tuesday (October 9) at 8 p.m. ET, and stars like T.I., Rick Ross, Diddy, Wiz Khalifa, Meek Mill and 2 Chainz are all set to perform. Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, Mac Miller, B.o.B, A$AP Rocky and DMX are scheduled to appear in the pre-taped Award Show rhyme cyphers. "I don't know if it's because it's an election year, but everybody's out this year," Epps said. "The last couple of awards I think people had a lot of stuff to do, people were busy, but this year, everybody is out this year."

The BET Hip Hop Awards air tonight at 8/7c!

Who are you most excited to see at this year's BET Hip-Hop Awards? Let us know in the comments!