The BET Hip Hop Awards splashed down to the Sunshine State for its 2017 ceremony, taking advantage of South Florida’s tropical vibes, frenetic energy and vibrant music scene to honor hip-hop’s hustle. The show attracted a who’s who of hip-hop royalty, including Gucci Mane, Luke Campbell, Playboi Carti and Flo Rida, while transforming Miami’s Jackie Gleason Theater into a trendy South Beach nightclub with bursts of pyrotechnics, fog, and flashing lights.
Migos performs “Too Hotty” at the 2017 BET Hip Hop Awards. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)
Hosted by Miami native and modern renaissance man DJ Khaled, the Hip-Hop Awards paid homage to both industry veterans like Eminem (who went viral with a politically-charged freestyle) and spunky newcomers like Hustler of the Year, Cardi B.
Check out these highlights from the hottest night in hip-hop:
Robin Thede earned her first writing credit at the 2014 BET Awards, crafting jokes for show host Chris Rock. The gig sparked a fast-paced career in the entertainment industry—a career marked by firsts.
Thede’s “Who Dis?” segment on The Nightly Show was a hit with viewers.
Thede’s irreverent comedic style is a natural fit for late-night, the programming block characterized by acerbic hosts and borderline-offensive skits.
“I purposely put my name in the title so no one can replace me,” Thede quipped in an interview with Essence.
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The Rundown will be Thede’s chance to share her charismatic and hilarious style with a wider audience, who may not be familiar with her as a TV personality (although viewers will recognize her humor if they’ve watched any of the daytime, late-night and scripted TV shows where she’s credited as a writer.
“Some people only know me as a comedian, and some people only know me as a writer,” Thede told Variety. “This show blends field and studio comedy and plays to my strengths as a writer and performer. I want to create a (show) that is unlike anything else on the market.”
BET has the same goal. Connie Orlando, BET’s head of programming, told The New York Times that the network was looking to shake up its programming with late-night comedy.
“It was something that made sense for the direction we’re going in,” said Orlando. “We realized our real prime time starts at 10, and our audience loves to laugh. It felt like the perfect moment to add the voice of an African-American female to the conversation.” Orlando also believes the show has potential to go viral and reach viewers outside BET’s demographic.
How? Late-night talk shows are fueled by current events, relying on the daily news cycle for their commentary. Race relations and women’s issues heavily focused on. Thede is in a unique position as a black woman to provide commentary on these topics from her own experience—adding a level of genuine credibility to the late-night set that, until now, hasn’t existed for black female viewers.
In an interview with The New York Times, Thede predicted this credibility would help her show gain traction. “I’m speaking to stories that matter to us,” said Thede, referring to black women. Members of her community will tune in to “to get an authentic opinion about stories they’re not going to hear anywhere else.”
But The Rundown has great potential to engage viewers from every demographic, according to Orlando.
“The show’s going to cover anything from Cardi B to what’s happening in the White House,” Orlando told The New York Times. “I think all kinds of audiences will be interested to know and listen to what Robin has to say.”
The BET Awards have become a cultural touchstone. Last year’s awards captivated audiences with mesmerizing performances and a tribute to Prince. One of the evening’s most moving moments came when Jesse Williams, Greys Anatomy star and civil rights activist, utilized his Humanitarian Award acceptance speech to address how the challenges of living in a racially prejudiced world impact the black community.
This year’s Humanitarian Award winner is Chance the Rapper, whom BET is honoring for his strides toward improving the lives of young black men, decreasing gun violence, and financially supporting Chicago Public Schools.
Another highlight of the show will be incredible performances by artists Bruno Mars, Future, Migos, Trey Songz, Tamar Braxton and more.
The BET Awards draws top names from across the entertainment landscape, and many of them will ascend the stage to present awards. Among the major names will be Yara Shahidi, Cardi B, Issa Rae, Jamie Foxx, La La Anthony, Trevor Noah, Robin Thede, Cari Champion and Demetrius Shipp Jr.
The nominees include some of the biggest names in entertainment. Queen Bey (Beyoncé) will be continuing her highest total nomination streak with seven new nominations, including Best Female R&B/Pop Artist, Best Collaboration with Kendrick Lamar for Freedom, Video of the Year, and Album of the Year for Lemonade. Bruno Mars is nominated in five categories, including Album of the Year, Best Male R&B/Pop Artist, and Video of the Year. Chance the Rapper and Migos each clocked four nominations. Check out the full list of nominees below.