"Please make sure that you use your gift responsibly," Gospel singer Yolanda Adams said as she accepted the award for Best Gospel Artist. "Our babies are watching, and they want to be like us."
Ironically as she charged the artists to be mindful of what they feed the youth through their music, "The BET Awards 2012" would be remembered as much for its profanity as the star power that returned to the annual ceremony that celebrates the best and brightest among urban entertainment.
The censors were working overtime as singers and rappers threw radio edits to the wind and performed explicit versions that made it impossible to catch every foul word or reference. Entire sections of songs were muted during performances by Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross and Tyga.
It was an unfortunate undertone for The BET Awards as the event received plenty of press from mainstream media – mainly because of Beyoncé's first awards show appearance since giving birth to Blue Ivy Carter and a Whitney Houston tribute that featured the late singer's mother and brother.
Beyoncé was the second most nominated act with six – behind Kanye West's seven nominations. She won video director of the year (along with Alan Ferguson) and best female R&B artist and thanked the genre and her female influences – including Lauryn Hill (gracefully paying respect to the singer after a jab at the singer's recent tax woes was made by presenters as nominees were read) – and dedicated the award to Whitney Houston.
"I fell in love with music by listening to R&B. It's the core of who I am," said Beyoncé, also giving special thanks to Mary J. Blige.
Highlights of the show included a special tribute to Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly, and a funny moment where Jay-Z referenced one of Kanye West's most unpopular outbursts as The Throne accepted the award for "Best Group."
"Excuse me Kanye, I'm gonna let you continue, but...," Jay-Z said, imitating the infamous moment during the MTV Music Awards where West interrupted Taylor Swift.
BET also paid tribute to several stars who passed away over the past few years, with a series of short performance snippets and slide shows – including Chante Moore singing a medley of Donna Summer classics and Valerie Simpson performing some of the hits she had written with her husband, Nick Ashford.
But the moment of the evening belonged to Cissy Houston as she sang "Bridge Over Troubled Water" in remembrance of her daughter Whitney. The tribute included Monica and Brandy and culminated with Chaka Khan belting out "I'm Every Woman."
Audience members were in tears following Houston's performance and stayed on their feet as Chaka closed out the segment.
Even though the Whitney Houston tribute was the obvious choice to close out "BET Awards 2012," the show continued with a few more awards and the tone of profanity returned with the final performance by Tyga and Cash Out.
Other memorable moments included the Rev. Al Sharpton receiving a humanitarian award and soul singer D'Angelo's return to the spotlight after more than a decade.
Besides Beyoncé and The Throne, other winners included Chris Brown, Kevin Hart, Mindless Behavior, Big Sean and Nicki Minaj.
(Special to the NNPA from the St. Louis American)