HOLLYWOOD—The 2015 BET Awards were held on Sunday, June 28 from the famed Staples Center with tons of surprises for viewers. The ceremony kicked off with a performance by Kendrick Lamar promoting patriotism and fighting against police brutality by standing on police cars for his hit “Alright.” The night’s big winner was Beyonce who claimed the prize for Video of the Year for “7/11.” She also picked up the award for Best Female R&B/Pop Artist.

The festivities were hosted by “Black-ish” stars Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson. The duo opened the show with a dramatic dance interpretation involving both stars that was beyond funny, but not super hilarious. A bit goofier if you ask me. The first award of the night, Best Actor was presented to Terrance Howard for his work on the hit series “Empire.”

Nicki Minaj claimed her fifth consecutive award for Best Female Hip-Hop Artist. At this point, is there anyone who can take the crown from the rap phenomenon? What a powerful moment to see Minaj pay tribute to her mother who she brought on stage with her. It was a surprising moment on stage as the original castoff “The Game” reuniting on stage to announce that Derwin and Melanie will return for the series finale of the show. The award for Best Male Hip-Hop Artist went to Kendrick Lamar. Tyga and Chris Brown hit the stage to perform hits “Ayo” and “Liquor.” Omarion later joined the fellas on stage for a musical medley that included some fabulous dance routines.

The Weeknd hit the stage for a soulful performance that left the entire audience and viewers grooving. Songstress Alicia Keys returned to the stage; it seems like she has been absent for years, but proves she is still a presence on the musical stage.

Kelly Rowland took to the stage to pay tribute once again to Charlie Wilson, while she presented the award for Best New Artist to Sam Smith. Anthony Anderson took to the stage dressed as Smith to accept the award on his behalf. Indeed a funny moment, for a ceremony that didn’t have a ton of laughs.

It was crowd pleaser as 20 years of Bad Boy Entertainment was celebrated on the stage with 112, Diddy, Ginuwine, Faith Evans, French Montana, Jadakiss, Mase and the biggest surprise was Lil Kim! Kim had everyone screaming when she hit the stage.

Diddy took to the stage to pay tribute to Lifetime Achievement recipient Smokey Robinson with commentary from Aretha Franklin, Berry Gordy, John Legend and Janelle Monae. After the montage, musical acts including Robin Thicke, Tori Kelly and Ne-Yo amongst many others took to the stage to perform some of Smokey’s greatest hits.

In an all-star performance Meek Mill hit the stages with Chris Brown and Nicki Minaj. Yazz, from the hit series “Empire” took to the stage to perform his hit “Drip Drop” and was later followed by singing sensation Jussie Smollett who sang his hit “You’re So Beautiful.”

Ciara took the stage to pay tribute to music icon Janet Jackson.
Ciara took the stage to pay tribute to music icon Janet Jackson.

The ceremony took a huge stance taking notice at the epidemic that has crippled the nation with tons of black lives being lost. Big Sean had the entire crowd on their feet when he performed his inescapable hit “IDFWU.”

The Humanitarian award was given to radio host Tom Joyner. The biggest highlight of the night was the tribute to Janet Jackson. Helping to pay tribute to Ms. Jackson were Jason Derulo and Ciara, who performed musical moves that screamed Janet’s impact on the music arena and female artists. The ‘Rhythm Nation’ routine was spectacular. Janet later took to the stage to accept her award, with both her parents sitting in the audience.

Chris Brown picked up two trophies, one for Best Male R&B Artist and the Fandemonium Award. Brown was quite humble while on stage, thanking his fans and apologizing for past mistakes and thanking his daughter. K. Michelle took the stage to belt out a few ballads; must say we didn’t see much of that at the ceremony.

Her performance led to the introduction of Tamar Braxton singing “If I Don’t Have You.” Interesting dynamic to see both Braxton and Michelle duet a classic song, the harmonies were near perfection as they introduced the legendary Patti LaBelle.

The Coca-Cola Viewers Choice Award went to Nicki Minaj for “Only,” who slightly lost while accepting her award on stage. I must say this had to be one of the longest ceremonies in the awards history, clocking in way past 3 hours. Side bar: when an awards ceremony runs longer than the Academy Awards than you know it’s a problem.

In the past the BET awards were careful to balance handing out awards with performances, but the 2015 ceremony focused on performances more than handing out trophies

Here’s hoping 2016 will bring a bit more festive energy and laughter to a ceremony that so many have come to love.