2013 BET Awards honor Charlie Wilson, Nicki Minaj, Kendrick Lamar

Diverse, dynamic, and ‘outstanding’ as ever, the 2013 BET Awards united timeless legends with young innovators in a three-hour-long ceremony Sunday showcasing the best of black culture across the entertainment arts.

Hosted by comedian Chris Tucker, the annual event honored artists Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj, and Kendrick Lamar with multiple awards, and featured performances by all three talents as well as Mariah Carey, Robin Thicke, Miguel, J. Cole, Erykah Badu, A$AP Rocky and Janelle Monáe, among others.

Justin Timberlake presented Charlie Wilson with the Cadillac Lifetime Achievement award, which was accompanied by a performance tribute to Wilson and The Gap Band by India.Arie, Jamie Foxx, and Stevie Wonder.

Deeming “Uncle Charlie” the “backbone of R&B” music, Timberlake handed Wilson his trophy, then joined the legend on stage alongside Snoop Dogg and Pharrell to perform the songs “Outstanding,” “Signs,” “You Dropped a Bomb On Me” and “Beautiful.”

“It’s a beautiful thing,” Wilson told theGrio about the performance, describing his fellow artists as, “some of my real famous nephews.”

Accepting his award, Wilson thanked his family, his “chirren,” and his team who encouraged him to give new life to a career others considered “washed up.”

Anything can and will happen

The scope of talent at this year’s awards show, dubbed “Anything Can Happen,” demonstrated the vast terrain of black entertainment in the modern era, from the dancehall rhythms of Beenie Man and Elephant Man’s Caribbean mix to R. Kelly’s R&B montage of greatest hits.

The artists, too, spoke of the lengths they’d come to pursue their dreams in Hollywood.

“Every time I win it’s a humbling experience,” Nicki Minaj said after winning her fourth consecutive award for best female hip-hop artist.

“To all my little home boys and home girls back in the city, if you looking at me on TV right now, I came up in that same county building, food stamps, welfare, section 8,” Lamar said when accepting the award for best male hip-hop artist. “You looking at me on TV right now, this is living proof you can do anything you put your mind to.”

“They call us the minority, the black and brown,” he added. “But for sure, if you keep love, God, respect and hard work in your heart, you can do anything you want.”

Representing hip-hop and all its faces

Other stars of the rap community recognized the range of creativity and business endeavors in hip-hop this year, from Kanye West’s new release Yeezus and J. Cole’s long-awaited Born Sinner (which came out the same day) to upcoming albums by Jay-Z, Drake and Big Sean.

“People kind of decide where you’re at and where you stand,” J. Cole told theGrio. “I just try to make the best music I can make that gets me excited and make the best decisions and moves I can make. Moving my release date to Kanye’s was my decision and I followed my heart. People decide and not necessarily the critics or Twitter or these magazines, or the press. The people decide ultimately, and that was the major victory to me on the album.”

R&B and pop star Mya echoed the rapper’s sentiment and also pointed out how new channels of outreach have boosted the game.

“The cross fusion of genres and styles is really positive for the rap scene,” she remarked to theGrio. “Cross-branding has been a great thing for the hip-hop community as well as the R&B and pop community. I can really appreciate that for an artist that started out when cassette tapes were still out. To see all the cross branding and new technology and social media where you can communicate with fans, it’s really beautiful.”

Grammy-winning gospel rapper Lecrae added, “I like the bigness of hip-hop. It’s big records, people putting some time and creativity into it. It’s not just something you can put in the microwave for one minute and it pops out a song.”

When it came to that resounding Jay-Z deal with Samsung, no one denied the potential it could have to change the industry.

Trinidad James, a rising star on the rap scene, called it “genius” and the perfect timing for Jigga’s career.

Furthermore, Fabolous said it could be a catalyst for those in sales and marketing to reinvent business models.

“The Jay-Z thing is exciting because it’s showing another platform – corporations investing in music and also opening up sales in music, which have been down in this digital era,” says the Loso’s Way artist. “It’s interesting. I heard recently that Billboard won’t count it as sales, so that’s one thing. It’s understandable too because it’s not actually physically somebody going in the stores and supporting the album. But I think also it provides money for marketing from those corporations.”

Django Unchained earns more honors

From the turntables to the big screen, the BET Awards gave a nod to Think Like a Man as best movie of the year, and honored Foxx with the best actor award for his starring role in Django Unchained.

Foxx thanked his “acting gods” Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte for teaching him to be responsible with his work, and to “make it be about something.”

He also gave a shout to Django director Quentin Tarantino for being brave with his choices and blazing his own trail.

“We live in a world of Djangos now,” said Foxx. “Jay-Z’s Django; Kanye’s Django; 2 Chainz’s Django; J. Cole’s Django. It’s your own interpretation of what you want to do.”

The ceremony showed previews of new films Fruitvale Station and Best Man Holiday, whose casts were on hand to present awards.