Silk Sonic took album of the year for An Evening With Silk Sonic and best group for the second year in a row. In addition, the duo’s Anderson .Paak was named video director of the year.
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Lamar won best male hip-hop artist for a record fifth time. He had shared the record with Drake with four wins each. Lamar also took video of the year for “Family Ties,” a collab with his cousin, Baby Keem.
Tems took best international act and also best collaboration for Wizkid’s “Essence” on which she was featured (along with Justin Bieber). Tems joins a long line of artists from talent-rich Nigeria to win best international act. The Afrobeats singer follows Burna Boy, Davido, Wizkid, Ice Prince, 2face Idibia and D’banj.
This year saw a lot of first-time winners in key categories, including best female R&B/pop artist (Jazmine Sullivan), best male R&B/pop artist (The Weeknd), and Zendaya (best actress).
The award for “Essence” is Bieber’s first BET Award. He was nominated 12 years ago for best new artist and a “fandemonium” award.
This is the third year in a row that the award for best female R&B/pop artist has gone to a first-time category champ. Lizzo and H.E.R. won the last two years. Just before that, three women – Beyoncé, Alicia Keys and Rihanna – had a lock on the award for 13 consecutive years (2007-19).
The Weeknd won best male R&B/pop artist for the first time, topping Chris Brown, a six-time winner in the category, among others. The Weeknd wasn’t present to accept his award.
Latto became the second female rapper to win the BET Award for best new artist. Nicki Minaj was the first 12 years ago. Minaj went on to receive a Grammy nomination for best new artist – a feat Latto is likely to match later this year when the nominations for the 65th annual Grammy Awards are announced.
Megan Thee Stallion won best female hip-hop artist for the third year in a row, the longest winning streak in that category since Minaj won seven years running from 2010-16.
Mary J. Blige won the BET Her award for “Good Morning Gorgeous.” It was Blige’s second win in the category, following “Strength of a Woman” four years ago. Beyoncé is the only other two-time winner in the category’s history. Blige accepted the award by noting that she won a lifetime achievement award three years ago, which, she said, usually means an artist is “over and done” in terms of awards.
Kirk Franklin and Lil Baby won the Dr. Bobby Jones best gospel/inspirational award for their collab “We Win.” Lil Baby, last year’s winner for best male hip-hop artist, is the first artist to win BET Awards in both hip-hop and gospel categories. This was Franklin’s sixth win in this category, which extends his record as the top winner in the category’s history. In his acceptance speech, Franklin saluted a fellow nominee, Maverick City Music (nominated for “Jireh,” a collab with Elevation Music), saying that they represent “the next generation of gospel music.”
King Richard won best movie. And its star, Will Smith, won best actor for the third time. This allows Smith to tie Denzel Washington and Michael B. Jordan as the actor with the most wins in the history of the category. Smith, of course, won his first Oscar for the film but spoiled his night of triumph by taking the stage and slapping presenter Chris Rock, who had made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head. “The slap” was not mentioned on the BET show, and the awards to King Richard and Smith were not presented on-air.
Zendaya won best actress for her performances on HBO’s Euphoria and in the box-office smash Spider-Man: No Way Home. Zendaya, 25, is the youngest winner in the category since Jennifer Hudson, who was also 25 when she won 15 years ago for Dreamgirls. (Hudson was nominated again this year for her performance as Aretha Franklin in Respect.)
Sean “Diddy” Combs received the lifetime achievement award. He’s the second person who rose to fame as a rapper to win the award. The first was Queen Latifah, who received the honor last year. Combs was saluted warmly by Jay-Z, Ye (the former Kanye West) and Babyface, among others.
Marsai Martin, the 17-year-old co-star of ABC’s Black-ish, which ended an eight-year run in April, won the YoungStars award for the fourth consecutive year.