While the late-breaking news at the BET Hip Hop Awards had nothing to do with the show itself — that would be the apparent skirmish between Rick Ross and Atlanta rapper Young Jeezy – there were plenty of notable moments worth discussing before the incident hijacked headlines.
The performance-heavy show, which was taped at the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center and will air Oct. 9 on BET, launched with a bang from Wiz Khalifa, who was joined by Young Jeezy for “Work Hard, Play Hard.” Though it sounded tight the first time around, producers made the acts run through it again, one of the few major stalls of the taping. Although during the time it took to re-set the stage, the late-arriving Omarion was able to hustle to his seat, prompting the girls in the balcony to shower him with ear-piercing screams once he was noticed.
Here are some other things to look out for (including some winners, so if you don’t want to know, stop reading now!).
– Atlanta rapper 2 Chainz, up for 13 awards (only a handful were announced at the show), and Pusha T accepted the Perfect Combo Award for “Mercy,” their song with Kanye West and Big Sean.
– Most of the intros and outros to commercial breaks featured Cyphers, almost all of them with familiar faces. T.I. and B.o.B. faced off in the first one, along with peers from Texas, London and Australia, while others throughout the show featured RZA, Childish Gambino, ASAP Rocky, Snoop Dogg (or, Lion), E-40, Eve and DMX.
– RZA, who spoke to us on the red carpet about his upcoming movie, “The Man with the Iron Fists,” which he wrote and directed and stars Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu, got in a few plugs when he took the podium to present Lyricist of the Year (to Kendrick Lamar) and followed his hawking by introducing a trailer for the movie, which arrives in November.
– 2 Chainz fronted a dramatic performance of “Birthday Song,” complete with a gospel choir (which was really there to stunt, not sing) and his own natty attire of a black suit and tie, hair flowing behind him. The rapper then sat at a piano to plunk the opening of “I’m Different,” which featured mounds of dry ice and a ferocious delivery.
– Not long after his performance, 2 Chainz, whose debut, “Based on a T.R.U. Story,” opened at No. 1 on the Billboard charts last month, scooped up the award for People’s Champ. He gave a heartfelt speech about how last year he considered himself fortunate to particpate in the Cypher as his main presence, but this year, even being on the red carpet was an overwhelming experience. “This is just to let you know what can happen in a year. This is a blessing,” he said.
– T.I. burst onstage and shouted, “I’d like to welcome you all to Atlanta!” before diving into a medley that included the new “Trouble Man,” the title of his eventually-will-be-released album.
– Altanta’s Future utilized a pile of pyro to introduce “Turn on the Lights,” but it was when he segued into “Same Damn Time” and Diddy rose from a platform behind him that the scene turned blissfully chaotic on stage.
– Lamar and T.I. introduced Rakim as the recipient of the I Am Hip Hop Icon award for 2012. The legendary wordsmith , whom Lamar credited for “creating innovative sound scapes – he is the Da Vinci of that mix,” joked that he was going to take his time at the podium. “I don’t always get awards,” he said, later adding, “To all the artists keeping the torch lit, keep doing what you’re doing.”
– Rick Ross, no one’s idea of a sex symbol, came out shirtless, with his pants around his thighs, to perform “Hold Me Back.” Then a few ladies came out to drape a fur coat around his sizeable shoulders for “Ice Cold,” on which he was joined by Omarion.
Check out our gallery of photos from the event.