A rap icon and one of the genre's rising performers dominated the 2010 BET Hip-Hop Awards while several legendary acts took to the stage to celebrate in the Dirty South.
Jay-Z, the biggest name in the game, picked up three awards on the night, including Perfect Combo for his duet with Alicia Keys on "Empire State of Mind," CD of the year for "The Blueprint 3" and Best Live Performer, reports MTV.
Though Jigga was not in attendance, the night's other big winner, Queens-raised MC Nicki Minaj, loomed larger than life with her platinum blonde wig and hot pink fingernails. The brash newcomer and Lil Wayne charge also scored three awards: Rookie of the Year, People's Champ and Made You Look, an award that acknowledged her love for wild, Gaga-esque costumes.
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Minaj, who's debut album comes out in November, said she was doing her part to open doors for other female rappers.
"I'm paving the way for girls," she said. "I wanna thank all the girls of hip-hop."
Rick Ross captured two awards on the evening, both for "B.M.F. (Blowin' Money Fast)". The Florida MC took home the Track of the Year and Club Banger of the Year awards.
But a slew of performances from some of rap's stars from yesteryear really got the crowd going.
MC Hammer appeared with Ross and Diddy to open up the show and then broke into a performance of his mega-hit "2 Legit 2 Quit." Digital Underground of "Humpty Dance" fame performed and iconic female act Salt-N-Pepa received the I Am Hip-Hop award.
Another highlight of the evening were the "cyphers," freestyle raps that run between the presentations and performances. Ice Cube and Reverend Run of RUN D.M.C. took to the stage with their sons to tear through one cypher, while Kanye West, Common, Pusha T, Big Sean and CyHi Da Prynce appeared in black tie for their go around. West had the crowd in stiches with some of his punch lines.
"Y'all got too many Urkels on your team, that's why y'all win slow," the voluble rapper rhymed.
The ceremony, which was taped in Atlanta October 2, was hosted by comedian Mike Epps and will air October 12 at 8 p.m on BET.