The BET Awards never fail to deliver memorable surprises. This year wasn’t any different.
Pharrell Williams kicked off the 2014 BET Awards at LA’s Nokia Theatre with a performance of his latest “G I R L” single, “Come Get It Bae.” With a handful of dancers dressed as cheerleaders behind him, Pharrell brought out Missy Elliott mid-set for a short and sweet performance her song, “Pass That Dutch.”
The show’s host, actor/comedian Chris Rock, was met with a standing ovation as soon as he walked on to the stage. He killed his opening stand-up set with jokes about hip-hop’s biggest names and trending topics, starting with Jay Z and Solange’s elevator incident. “She (Solange) hit ‘Blueprint 3’ Jay Z, not ‘Reasonable Doubt’ Jay Z,” he joked, after saying that Jay Z kept calm cause he’s a business man.
After shouting out Dr. Dre for his recent Beats by Dre deal with Apple, Chris Rock slipped in a joke about Rick Ross’ weight: “Dre has Beats, Rick Ross Dia-a-Beats.” The Bawse wasted no time to responded via Twitter: “Chris Rock washed up haaaa.”
Lil Wayne started his performance with a live debut of his new “Tha Carter V” single, “Krazy.” After performing his charting-single “Believe Me,” sans featured guest, Drake, Weezy shouted out his daughter Reginae.
Actor Terrence J accepted the award for Best Actress on behalf of Lupita Nyong’o, who wasn’t in attendance, John Legend took the stage to perform “You & I (Nobody In the World).” John Legend stayed put behind his piano, as he introduced Jhene Aiko to the stage to perform “The Worst.”
For the first time since released from jail (after a four month stint), Chris Brown performed his hit, “Loyal,” alongside Lil Wayne and Tyga.
Minutes after closing his set with Travis Barker behind the drums, Breezy dropped his new single, “New Flame,” featuring Usher and Rick Ross.
Usher reminds viewers and attendees of the greatness of his discography with a medley of his hits (“Nice & Slow,” “Confessions,” “Caught Up,” “You Remind Me,” “You Don’t Have To Call”), and wraps his set up with his new single, “Good Kisser.”
Pharrell Williams surprised with his win for Video of the Year (“Happy”), not only because he beat nominees such as Beyoncé, Jay Z and Drake, but because he rocked comfy UGG boots.
Jennifer Hudson, wearing a little black leather dress, strutted down the aisles singing her catching single, “Walk It Out,” and hit her signature high notes during her live debut of “It’s Your World.”
Chris Rock took a note from Ellen DeGeneres’ 2014 Oscars hosting gig and fed those in attendance with food; but instead of pizza, he passed around Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles.
Nicki Minaj kicked off her anticipated performance by rapping to her Lil Herb-assisted song, “Chi-Raq” while riding the back of a motorcycle. She then transitioned to the main stage, where she performed her “The Pink Print” single, “Pills N Potions,” in the middle of a fairy-tale themed set.
After winning Best New Artist earlier in the night, August Alsina shocked everyone when he brought out Trey Songz, who he reportedly had beef with, and Chris Brown to perform his single, “I Luv This Shit.”
John Legend opened BET’s tribute to Richie with his rendition of “Hello” and “Still.” Ledisi took the stage next to perform The Commodores classic “Brick House.” Yolanda Adams closed the tribute with a powerful performance of “Jesus Is Love.”
Winner of the night, Pharrell Williams, presented Lionel Richie with the honorary Lifetime Achievement award. “Soul is a feeling, not a color,” Richie said during his acceptance speech. He continued to thank his fellow Commodores band members, Berry Gordon, Steve Miller and more.
The legendary singer brought all those in attendance to their feet when he took the stage to perform “Easy Like Sunday Morning” and “All Night Long.”
As guessed (and rumored), T.I. brought out Iggy Azalea to join him for a performance of “No Mediocre.” Iggy followed up with a performance of her top charting hit, “Fancy.” The camera caught Nicki Minaj, Keyshia Cole, and more dancing along.
Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj and Young Money members (except Drake) took the stage to accept the award for Best Group. “This wasn’t put together by no record label; it was hand-picked by this man here,” Minaj said of Lil Wayne. “I am honored to be in your presence.”
Color Me Badd and Silk transported fans back to the ’90s with performances of their seductive hits: “I Wanna Sex You Up” and “Freak Me,” respectively.
BET President, Debra Lee, presented civil rights activist and journalist Myrlie Evers-Williams with the Humanitarian Award, in time for the 50-year anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Actress Phylicia Rashad took the mic to honor the late Ruby Dee and Maya Angelou, both poets who passed away this year.
“I’d like to dedicate this song to my wife. And say ‘I miss you’ and ‘I’m sorry,” Robin Thicke said, before performing his new song “Forever Love,” for the first time on live television. “Forever Love” follows up “Get Her Back,” both off his album dedicated and titled after his estranged wife, actress Paula Patton.
“He singing like she don’t know him,” Chris Rock joked after Thicke’s performance.
“This is my fifth year winning this award. I don’t take it for granted,” Nicki says when accepting the award for Best Female Hip-Hop Artist. “When you hear Nicki Minaj spit, Nicki Minaj wrote it. No, no shade… no shade,” she continued, silencing rumors of her not writing her own rhymes.
Nicki continued to say that she “really thought I was going to die,” but didn’t call for “an ambulance,” because then she would have been on TMZ.
“The other day – I didn’t tell anybody this – I really thought I was going to die. I was saying my prayers to die. I didn’t even want to call an ambulance, because I thought, ‘Well if I call the ambulance, it’s going to be on TMZ… I would rather sit there and die,” she said. “And it made me realize: I don’t care anymore what anybody got to say, I’mma do me.”
Beyoncé and Jay Z close the BET Awards with a pre-taped performance of their remix to “Partition” from their “On the Run” tour.
Check out the full list of the 2014 BET Awards winners:
Best New Artist: August Alsina
Best Gospel Artist: Tamela Mann
Best Actress: Lupita Nyong’o
Best Male Hip-Hop Artist: Drake
Video of the Year: Pharrell Williams’ “Happy”
Best Male Pop Artist: Pharrell Williams
Best Group: Young Money
Viewers Choice Award: August Alsina
Best Female Hip-Hop Artist: Nicki Minaj