2017 BET Awards Draws Millions of Viewers for Premiere Night

Courtesy of BET Networks

LOS ANGELES -- Celebrating achievements and honors in entertainment, music, television and sports, the 2017 BET Awards saw the the comical actress Leslie Jones in her first role hosting a major awards show.

The lengthy and performance packed show focused on the legacy and influence of 90's R&B music. Beyonce led in nominations to include 'Best Female R&B Artist' with 7, while Bruno Mars followed with 5. Viewers saw over 20 performances by some of the hottest and most prolific talent with memorable performances by Chris Brown, Bruno Mars, Trey Songz, French Montana, Tamar Braxton and Future.

Mary J. Blige showed no fear while wearing a glittering dress showing off what Jamie Foxx would proclaim to be her "breakup body," as she performed "Love Yourself" and "Set Me Free" following a recent divorce. The reunion of female R&B group, Xscape, after eighteen years brought back memories and happiness to the audience as they sang some of their greatest hits like "Who Can I Run To" and "Just Kickin It."

The show even took a turn to shift its focus to social activism when the cast of the upcoming film Detroit honored those lost to violence and police brutality - from Eric Garner and Sandra Bland to Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown to name a few. Amongst many others, Solange called for a moment of silence before honors were given to pay homage to these victims.

Chance the Rapper took home the evening's Humanitarian Award after being honored in a surprise taped message from former First Lady Michelle Obama. An acceptance speech advocating justice and a desire to change politics followed as he spoke on both racial and social issues and his support for initiatives to change mass incarceration and education.

Nostalgia began to set in as the highlight of the night came during a tribute celebrating one of the most successful R&B acts in music history, New Edition. The recent subject of a biopic, the boy-band was honored by BET with the iconic Lifetime Achievement Award. The full cast from the New Edition Story brought the crowd to its feet with a retrospective performance of their greatest hits to include "Candy Girl," "Poison," and My Prerogative." Following a standing ovation from the crowd, New Edition joined the cast on stand in harmony as they danced and sang "Can You Stand the Rain" and "If It Isn't Love."

Additional highlights came from Kendrick Lamar and Future, with appearances by Diddy, Jada Pinkett Smith and Jamie Foxx, while DJ Khaled closed out the show with a show-stopping performance for the single "I'm The One" in which Baby Asahd made an appearance dressed in Gucci similarly to rapper Gucci Mane.

While some performers were phenomenal, there were many that were simply subpar and not memorable at all. Other than an awkward moment shared between Chris Brown and Karrueche, viewers found time to poke fun at Bruno Mars with his 'shut-eye' moment during Mary J's performance by turning the montage into a meme contest.

For a list of winners and highlight performances, visit www.bet.com/betawards.

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