This year’s BET Awards were a virtual event because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the performances and speeches were pre-taped, allowing for dramatic stagings and high production values.
Wayne Brady paid tribute to rock and roll pioneer Little Richard, with an energetic medley of Lucille, Good Golly Miss Molly and Tutti Frutti.
Afterward, Lil Wayne paid tribute to basketball legend Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash earlier this year.
Award recipients included Lizzo, who was named best female R&B/pop artist, beating Beyoncé, who has won the category 10 times, including the last six years in a row.
Megan Thee Stallion won best female hip-hop artist, after facing down a challenge from two former winners, Cardi B and seven-time champion Nicki Minaj.
Chris Brown won best male R&B/pop artist for a record fifth time, while Michael B. Jordan picked up his third best actor trophy – tying him with Denzel Washington for the most wins in the category.
Beyoncé’s eight-year-old daughter Blue Ivy Carter was also a winner, picking up an award for her contribution to the song Brown Skin Girl, from her mother’s Lion King album.
And gymnast Simone Biles – who recently debuted a never-before-seen triple-twist, double back dismount from a balance beam – won sportswoman of the year for the first time.
She beat tennis legend Serena Williams, who had won 12 times in the category, including the last six years in a row.
The deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, as well as the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, were reflected throughout this year’s ceremony.
DaBaby, who won best male hip-hop artist, re-enacted the last moments of Mr Floyd’s life, rapping his hit Rockstar with his face pressed against the ground as a police officer knelt on his neck.
The performance also featured images from protests, as dancers held signs that said “Black Lives Matter” and “Defund The Police”, as the rapper and Roddy Ricch danced on top of police cars.
Twelve-year-old Keedron Bryant, who went viral on social media with a song about his fears of being a young African-American, opened the show with an a cappella performance of the poignant track, I Wanna Live.
That was followed by an all-star performance of Public Enemy’s 1989 anthem Fight the Power, featuring Nas, YG, The Roots’ Black Thought, and Rapsody.
Jennifer Hudson delivered a gospel rendition of Nina Simone’s Young, Gifted and Black