Kanye West leads the list of nominations for the 2012 BET Awards, which the network announced on Tuesday.
West scored a leading seven, six of them the result of his heralded collaboration with Jay-Z.
When the two rap heavyweights announced they would join forces on “Watch the Throne,” under the equally royal moniker the Throne, it became one of last year’s most anticipated releases. Fans were eager to hear what the frequent collaborators would offer.
The pair bypassed traditional album promotion: They didn’t issue a handful of visuals for the singles outside of “Otis” and “ … In Paris” -- both of which compete for video of the year -- and if you wanted to see them perform together, the best chance was their massive fall tour, which became one of 2011’s highest grossing.
Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, Rick Ross and Kanye West lead the nominations for the 2011 BET Hip-Hop Awards, which the network announced Thursday.
Fresh off of his impressive chart-topping debut with "Tha Carter IV," Wayne leads the pack with a record-breaking 18 nods, including a nomination for the MVP of the year trophy. He's also nominated in top races such as best live performer, best lyricist, track of the year and viewer's choice.
West and Khalifa garnered nine nods each, and will compete against Wayne in the MVP race, along with Nicki Minaj and Ross, who scored six and eight nominations, respectively.
The Rookie of the Year award, the BET Awards' version of best new artist, will be a showdown between Khalifa, Big Sean, Diggy Simmons, Big K.R.I.T. and two Odd Future members, Frank Ocean and Tyler, the Creator.
Other races worth watching include the Sweet 16 award for best guest verse -- will Minaj's venomous spot on West's "Monster" or Busta Rhymes' tongue-twister rhymes on Chris Brown's "Look at Me Now" take the crown?; two verses from Khalifa and one from Wayne round out that category -- and track of the year, which features "6 Foot 7 Foot," "Black and Yellow," "Look at Me Now," "I'm on One" and "My Last."
Comedian Mike Epps will host the sixth-annual awards, which will be pretaped at the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center in Atlanta on Oct. 1, and will be broadcast on the network Oct. 11.
-- Gerrick D. Kennedy
Photos: From left: Kanye West. Credit: Matt Sayles / Associated Press; Rick Ross. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times; Wiz Khalifa. Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images; Lil Wayne. Credit: Matt Sayles / Associated Press.
The heavyweight and the rookie, the latter of whom's debut album, “Pink Friday,” isn’t even in stores yet, were the big winners of the night, with each taking home three trophies.
Minaj, the colorful femcee on Lil Wayne’s Young Money imprint, won awards for rookie of the year, people’s champ and the style award called Made You Look -– an easy win given her brazen fashion sense and choice of vibrant wigs.
Jay-Z snagged wins in the perfect combo category (for his duet with Alicia Keys on “Empire State of Mind”), CD of the year for "The Blueprint 3" and best live performer.
Minaj wasn't the only woman who earned gold. Icons Salt-N-Pepa were honored with the I Am Hip-Hop award, a version of the lifetime achievement statue.
Other awards went to Swizz Beatz (producer of the year), Diddy (hustler of the year) and Rick Ross (club banger of the year and track of the year, both for “B.M.F. [Blowin’ Money Fast]”). Drake, who had his own breakout year, was named MVP of the year.
The telecast, the network's fifth, will be broadcast Oct. 12 at 8 p.m. on BET.
-- Gerrick D. Kennedy
Photo: Nicki Minaj at the 2010 BET Hip-Hop Awards. Credit: Taylor Hill / Getty Images
Cheers greeted Janet Jackson when she appeared on the stage of the Shrine Auditorium on Sunday at the end of the BET Awards, but her face was etched with pain. For several moments, her mouth quivered, and it looked as if she might not be able to speak.
"My entire family wanted to be here tonight, but it was just too painful, so they elected me to speak for all of us," she finally said.
It's been only four days since her brother Michael Jackson died suddenly, shocking the world. The award ceremony, which had previously been scheduled to honor athletes, musicians and actors, was transformed to a hastily organized celebration of Jackson and his music.
The ceremony was largely joyous and celebratory, but the mood changed when Janet Jackson came on stage.
"To you, Michael is an icon, but to us Michael is family, and he will forever live in all of our hearts. On behalf of my family and myself, thank you for all of your love, and thank you for all of your support. We miss him so much. Thank you so much."
The event, the first large-scale entertainment industry gathering since Jackson's death, took on such a high profile that CNN broadcast live from the red carpet before the show.
When the show finally began, host Jamie Foxx wasted no time in kicking off the Jackson-flavored festivities.
"There's no need to be sad," Foxx shouted, appearing in a red leather jacket similar to the one Jackson wore in his famous "Beat It" video and a single glove. He re-created several of the entertainer's vintage leg kicks and shuffles.
He yelled out, "You should be standing up!" and the overflow audience appeared electrified as the pounding thumps of the song followed by another Jackson classic, "Rock With You," filled the auditorium.
Foxx, who was almost as adept in channeling Jackson as he was in portraying Ray Charles in his Oscar-winning performance in "Ray," tried to moonwalk across the Shrine stage.
Rapper Lil Wayne, who accepted the award for male hip-hop artist, said, "None of us would be in this room without Michael Jackson."
Cleveland Cavaliers basketball star LeBron James praised the music of Jackson and his family. Eddie Levert, leader of the O'Jays, who accepted the show's lifetime achievement award, told anecdotes of Jackson as a young artist, laced with a profanity. And Ne-Yo, who has often been compared to Jackson, sang a poignant version of Jackson's ballad "The Lady in My Life."
Watching from the audience was Jackson's father, Joe, who sat in the front row next to the Rev. Al Sharpton. The elder Jackson, who was wearing a black suit, sunglasses and a black hat, ignited a frenzy when he appeared near the red carpet just minutes before the live broadcast, as numerous media outlets rushed him for an interview.
"The family and I are doing OK, about as well as we can at this point," he said at one point.
Grading the performances as they happen (sort-of), typos and all:
New Edition: Jackson 5 medley, "ABC," "The Love You Save." This one is going to be a challenge to instantly grade, as a lot of these performances were certainly thrown together at the last minute, and are more about celebrating our favorite Michael Jackson songs than typical award-show self-promotion. Ideally, that will give us some of the better award-show live performances in memory, where emotion and soul will take precedence over all else. That was certainly the case with this surprise New Edition appearance, where they adorably strutted in red and tan vintage '70s outfits, and were a fitting cover band. It was cute, and set a celebratory tone. Sadly, it did not set the stage for an expansive Jackson tribute show. B
Keri Hilson: "Knock You Down." Kind of a hot mess, and certainly an entertaining one. Hilson was sporting a "Bad"-era Michael look, and showed of some vintage Michael skids and slides, but spent the choruses falling backward into the audience. Her ragtag backing crew looked like it belonged on "The Outsiders" rather than an awards show, but Hilson kept it lively -- this was about forcefulness rather than finesse. B