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Photo: BETLil Nas X at the BET Awards

The biggest moments from the BET Awards

Cardi B brings an unexpected guest and Lil Nas X brings the heat

By
Andy Kryza
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Last night's BET Awards gave out trophies to some of entertainment's biggest stars: Jazmine Sullivan scored album of the year, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion grabbed two more awards for last summer's sweaty bop "WAP" and Chadwick Boseman once again took home posthumous gold for his final performance in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

But viewers don't tune into the BET Awards just to watch a bunch of acceptance speeches. They tune in because the annual celebration of entertainment's sprawling Black diaspora is one of the most explosive nights in entertainment. Here are the biggest moments, plus all the big winners from the night.

Cardi B upstages Migos with her new baby bump

Atlanta trap trio Migos is back on the scene this year with Culture III, and dropped in on the BET Awards to turn up the heat, literally: The group kicked off a pyrotechnic-laden performance of "Straightenin'" surrounded by a ring of fire. But things got really hot when the track transitioned to "Type Sh*it" featuring two surprise guests: Cardi B and her new baby. Cardi took a break from promoting her appearance in F9 and debuted her bump, fully on display via a cut-out in her sequined bodysuit. 

DMX gets mad love in his tribute

When DMX unexpectedly died earlier this year, the hip-hop community mourned in the only way it knows how: By celebrating his life and kicking out tributes. Along with a posthumous album, producer Swizz Beatz assembled an army for BET — including Wu-Tang headliner Method Man, actor Michael K. Williams and rap legend Busta Rhymes — for a medley of hits including "Ruff Ryders Anthem" and "Party Up." The performance was equal parts rowdy and touching, a fitting homage to the late legend. 

Lil Nas X brings serious heat for Pride month

Dressed as scantily-clad pharoh, Lil Nas X stormed the stage, evoking Michael Jackson's "Remember the Times" for a gold-plated performance of his instantly iconic "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)." The Pride Month performance's symbolism is huge for BET, considering hip-hop's ugly past (and present) struggles with homophobia. That he capped it off by sharing an impassioned and lengthy kiss with a backup singer cements Lil Nas X as a fearless performer ready to take on all comers.

H.E.R shows off some serious drum skills

At age 24, H.E.R. has already solidified herself as a musical ingenue, but the singer/songwriter took the opportunity to show off the multi-instrumental skills that helped earn her the Best Female R&B/Pop Artist award by descending the rafters behind a huge drum kit. After keeping rhythm for the first verse of "We Made It," she hit the stage for some choreography, then strapped on a guitar for a rollicking solo that would have made Prince proud.

Silk Sonic brings the soul

Like H.E.R., Anderson .Paak is usually right at home behind his drum kit. But for his performance alongside Bruno Mars as one half of Delfonics-channeling soul throwback Silk Sonic, .Paak strolled around the venue like a velvet party host, with backup singers swilling goblets of cognac and the '70s vibes going strong.

Megan Thee Stallion continues her Thot Girl Summer

Only an artist as incendiary as Megan Thee Stallion could emerge onto a stage clad in leather thigh-highs and twerk endlessly while flanked by dancers in (assless, of course) skin-tight leather bodysuits and be called subdued. But here we are. "Thot Sh*t" continues Meagan's bid for summer supremacy after last year's "Wap," which scored two trophies. And her performance once again cements her as a force of nature in the hip hop world.

Tyler, The Creator gets weird elemental

Tyler iconically preceded his controversial Grammy win for Igor with a performance that saw the artist dodging explosions and open flames. For his BET performance of "Lumberjack" off of the new Call Me If You Get Lost, Tyler switched elements to wind. In a highly choreographed but of visual trickery, the artist employed a conveyor belt and a high-powered fan to whiz back and forth a stage made up to look like a miniature diorama come to life. It was brief, discombobulating and undeniably on brand for Tyler.

Lil' Kim honors Queen Latifah, challenges Nicki

Rap legend Lil' Kim took her rightful place in the spotlight last night, joining Mc Lyte and Monie Love in a tribute to BET Lifetime Achievement Award-winner Queen Latifah. Her performance of the Queen's "U.N.I.T.Y." was a welcome return from the legend, and hopefully she'll remain front and center: Asked on the red carpet whether she'd ever participate in Swizz Beats/Timbaland's now-iconic Verzuz series, she made no bones about who she'd like to go up against, saying point-blank "Nicki." Here's hoping the challenge is accepted and a clash of the titans is on the horizon.

Here is the full list of BET Award winners:

Album of the year: Jazmine Sullivan, Heaux Tales

Best female R&B / pop artist: H.E.R.

Best male R&B / pop artist: Chris Brown

Best female hip hop artist: Megan Thee Stallion

Best male hip hop artist Lil Baby

Best new artist Giveon

Best collaboration: Cardi B featuring Megan Thee Stallion, "WAP"

Best group: Silk Sonic

Dr. Bobby Jones best gospel/inspirational award: Kirk Franklin. "Strong God" 

BET HER award: SZA , "Good Days"

Viewer's choice award: Megan Thee Stallion featuring Beyoncé, "Savage (Remix)" 

Video of the year: Cardi B featuring Megan Thee Stallion, "WAP"

Video director of the year: Bruno Mars & Florent Déchard

Best international act: Burna Boy (Nigeria)

Best movie: Judas and the Black Messiah

Best actress: Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Best actor: Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom 

Youngstars award: Marsai Martin

Sportswoman of the year award: Naomi Osaka

Sportsman of the year award: Lebron James

Megan the Stallion kicks off Thot Girl Summer

Tyler, The Creator is back to overtake your summer playlist

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