Throughout the night, many performances encouraged fans to vote in this year's upcoming election, most notably Lil Baby and City Girls. Rising stars such as Cordae and Bobby Sessions rattled off poignant freestyles, while an impressive cipher including Rapsody, Jack Harlow, Chika, and more aimed to sway the younger crowd on the importance of voting.
Rapsody Wins First-Ever Award After Nabbing Lyricist of the Year
The grossly underrated MC won big at the start of the show after being named Lyricist of the Year. Competing against mainstream heavyweights such as Drake, J. Cole, Megan Thee Stallion, and DaBaby, Rapsody pulled off the upset, and her reaction was golden. The joyous MC celebrated her win alongside T.I. and 85 South after they announced her the victor. Revealing that this was her first award win ever, she thanked the women MCs who came before her, such as Queen Latifah and Foxy Brown.
Hip-Hop Pays Homage to Pop Smoke
As hip-hop continues to mourn the Brooklyn hyphenate's death, a bevy of artists paid tribute to the late star. First, Ade, Buddy, Deante Hitchcock, and Flo Milli caused tremors when they steamrolled through Pop Smoke's "Dior" for their cipher. Later, Quavo showed love to his fallen friend and performed "Shake the World" and "Aim for the Moon" off Smoke's posthumous album Shoot For the Stars Aim For the Moon. To punctuate his big night, Pop won Best New Artist.
Big Sean & Jhene Aiko Connect on "Body Langauge"
The romantic twosome dished out Sean's latest single on the set of a private bedroom. The steamy performance included Aiko dancing on her beau to the couple sharing a kiss at the end of the performance. With Dolla $ign singing from a separate set, Sean and Jhene reminded fans how dynamic their chemistry could be when together. Hopefully, a TWENTY88 album is en route.
Jamaica's Biggest Stars Put on For Their Homeland
Before mourning the death of his mother this week, the self-proclaimed King of Dancehall, Beenie Man, introduced Jamaica's standout stars to represent their homeland. Bounty Killer, Koffee, Skip Marley, and Shenseea each conquered their freestyles, performing over Damian Marley's "Welcome to Jamrock" across different cities in the country, before allowing Beenie Man to wrap up the flavorful session.
Hip-Hop Honors Master P With I Am Hip Hop Award
Snoop Dogg presented his former boss Master P the coveted I Am Hip Hop Award for his rap mastery and business acumen over the last two decades. Artists such as Jeezy, T.I., and Trina had no problem praising P and his endeavors, with the "Go Crazy" rapper dubbing him "the ultimate hustler." The No Limit commander proudly spoke on his empire and how he reversed his team's fortune with his leadership. "We created a dynasty with ordinary people who were just talented," he said during his speech.
The Ladies of R&B Flaunt Their Rap Skills
To close the night out, some of R&B's esteemed ladies floated over Brandy's 1994 classic "I Wanna Be Down." Erykah Badu, H.E.R., Teyana Taylor, and Brandy herself flipped the script and flexed their rap muscles. From Teyana boasting about her snapback post-pregnancy to H.E.R. gushing over hosting her first annual festival last year, this heralded class of R&B singers were worth the price of admission with their electric cipher.