The Queens native scored three trophies overall: Rookie of the Year, People’s Champ and the Made You Look award, which was awarded in recognition of her fashion flair.
Sporting a black dominatrix-like outfit, blond bob, pink nails and lipstick, Minaj took to the stage to accept her first award and was overcome by the recognition.
“Last year, I was here in anticipation of the cypher,” she told the crowd, referring to the artist rap freestyles that run in between the award presentations and performances. “Now I’m here in anticipation of my debut. [Pink Friday, set for release November 23.] I’m paving the way for girls, I wanna thank all the girls of hip-hop.”
Elsewhere Jay-Z, who didn’t attend the festivities, also earned three awards. Jay won Perfect Combo (for his Alicia Keys-assisted “Empire State of Mind”), CD of the Year (The Blueprint 3) and Best Live Performer.
Miami boss Rick Ross picked up two awards: the Miami don’s “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast)” earned Track of the Year for producer Lex Luger, and the industrial-strength number nabbed Club Banger of the Year honors. Ross also delivered one of the night’s most memorable onstage moments when he, Diddy and DJ Khaled opened the show with a fiery rendition of his summer car anthem, in NYC anyway, before easing the Atlanta Civic Center crowd into “MC Hammer.”
“Bitch, I’m MC Hammer,” Ross rapped. “I’m about cream. I got 30 cars, whole lot of dancers/ I take them everywhere, I’m MC Hammer/ Started selling dough, I’m too legit to quit/ When it’s hammer time, I’m pulling out the stick.”
MC Hammer himself then appeared onstage, leading a troop of dancers dressed in ensembles honoring the Marines. The veteran superstar performed his hit “2 Legit 2 Quit.”
Harlem’s Diplomats also reunited onstage for the first time since they reconciled over the summer after years of squabbling. And don’t worry, they weren’t pretending to sell drugs on fictional corners during their performance like the unforgettable Source Awards show, which caused a disapproving backlash.
Instead, Cam’ron, Jim Jones, Juelz Santana and Freekey Zekey rocked the crowd with their latest offering, “Salute.” Big Boi featuring Yelawolf, Soulja Boy Tell’em, J. Cole, Cali Swag District with Digital Underground, Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka Flame were among the evening’s other performers.
B.o.B brought his hometown crowd to its feet with a rousing rendition of his next single, the melancholy “Don’t Let Me Fall.”
Iconic female trio Salt-N-Pepa were honored with the I Am Hip-Hop award. Diddy (Hustler award), Swizz Beatz (Producer of the Year) and DJ Khaled (Best DJ) rounded out the winners. DJ Premier led a tribute to Guru, the late Gang Starr MC.
Following last year’s successful series of cyphers, including Eminem, Mos Def and the Roots’ Black Thought locking in together to rhyme, the 2010 BET Hip-Hop Awards featured seven cyphers, from the father and son pairings of Ice Cube and his two boys rhyming with Reverend Run and Diggy and Jojo Simmons to the Rosewood cypher, which featured Kanye West and his G.O.O.D. Music family: Common, Pusha T, Big Sean and CyHi Da Prynce.
The latter collective upped the ante on their freestyle set by sporting black-tie clothing; they even forced Premier to get spiffy.
West drew one of the loudest cheers of any cypher with his array of punch lines.
“Y’all got too many Urkels on your team, that’s why y’all win slow,” he rapped.
The 2010 BET Hip-Hop Awards, hosted by Mike Epps, is scheduled to air October 12 at 8 p.m. on BET.