Rap's legends and rising stars shine at BET Hip-Hop Awards

theGRIO REPORT - The 8th annual BET Hip-Hop Awards were bigger and better this year, including performances by Kendrick Lamar, Rick Ross, 2 Chainz, French Montana and rap mogul Dippy...

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

The 8th annual BET Hip-Hop Awards were bigger and better this year, including performances by Kendrick Lamar, Rick Ross, 2 Chainz, French Montana and rap mogul Diddy.

The taped show, which once again took place Saturday at the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center, was a seamless extravaganza that kept the crowds on their feet. The show airs on Oct. 15.

Highlights included veteran rapper MC Lyte taking home the “I Am Hip-Hop Award,” presented by rapper Eve. “When I started writing rhymes and stories I wanted people to feel it,” said Lyte, famous for her critically acclaimed hits in the late 1980s and 1990s.

“She set the precedent for female freestylers,” said Eve. “I’m truly, truly honored. She has meant so much to me in my career.”

Will Smith, along with his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Queen Latifah also took part in the video tribute that paid homage to Lyte’s accomplishments as a pioneering female rapper in a male-dominated arena.

Drake won the People’s Champ award and A$AP Ferg took the Rookie award. A$AP Rocky took an award for the Perfect Combo category, which 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar and accepted in his absence.

The highly anticipated all-star digital cyphers incorporated performances by A$AP Mob, Nelly, Joe Budden, Lil’ Kim, Slaughterhouse, and Kevin Hart a.k.a. Chocolate Drop. Kendrick Lamar’s four-minute freestyle cypher received a standing applause.

Another draw was legendary rapper Snoop Dogg’s appearance as first-time host of the awards. His quick wit and laid-back humor worked wonders with the audience.

But the real star of the night was Kevin Hart, whose brash personality and razor-sharp humor had the audience falling out of their seats. At one point the pint-sized comic came out on stage surrounded by around a dozen burly men, dressed up as cops. His explanation was simple: he was going a make a few arrests.

The awards were capped off with a performance from Cleveland’s Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. The quartet tore through their time-honored hits to include “Thuggish Ruggish Bone,” “1st of the Month” and “Crossroads.”

Host Snoop Dogg, aka ‘Uncle Snoop,’ caught up with theGrio on the red (actually green) carpet before the show kicked off. “I am happy to be here,” he said. “I am so glad BET has given me a position to do this.”

Nelly told theGrio that the only route for up-and-coming artists to be successful in the industry was undiluted passion. “If you couldn’t get paid for it would you still do?”

He also said the Internet has now made it possible for “everyone to be their own label.” He added, “It shows the world your talent.”

Other stars on the red carpet included Lil’ Mama, Lil Scrappy and Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta’s Stevie J Stevie with his beau Joseline draped on his arm.

“It was better than last year,” said Emerson Agenor, who flew in from Boston to attend the awards. “The performances were slick, the cypher tributes were good and awards were well deserved.”

“I liked the show,” said Jerome Hubbard. “I enjoyed the cyphers. The transitions seemed smooth and it was good to see old hands like P.Dippy up on stage.”

Though Aaliyah Melik, a Washington D.C native, said though she enjoyed the show she expected to see the likes of Drake, A$AP Mob and Big Sean in the building. A$AP Mob performed a cypher on the show.

Follow Kunbi Tinuoye on Twitter at @Kunbiti