BET Hip-Hop Awards: Chris Lighty Tribute

Despite a brawl, props were given to the late music exec. Plus, T.I. and others rocked the mic.

(The Root) — The apparent scuffle that took place between Rick Ross and Young Jeezy’s crews backstage at the 2012 BET Hip-Hop Awards taping in Atlanta on Sept. 29 went virtually unnoticed by audience members, and had no significant impact on the show’s production quality. Atlanta police denied earlier reports claiming shots were fired, and no arrests were made.

Other than that, it was all love as the rappers made their way in from the red carpet to their designated places at the seventh-annual awards show, which was held at the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center. The show featured greatly anticipated performances by 2 Chainz and T.I., the BET Awards Cypher sessions and a touching tribute to late music-industry exec Chris Lighty.

Best mixtape nominee Wiz Khalifa opened the show with his hit “Work Hard, Play Hard,” displaying an onstage swagger reminiscent of the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger. Juicy J from Three 6 Mafia and Young Jeezy joined him and his live band onstage, hyping up the crowd.

With the election less than 40 days away, host Mike Epps provided a not-so-subtle reminder to re-elect President Obama. He did a funny impression of the president in a pretaped skit, in which he chided Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on issues like health care. But that wasn’t the only character Epps played during the event. In another comic bit, he dressed as an 18th-century symphony conductor, accompanied by an opera singer who wore a horned helmet and was backed by a mini orchestra.

G.O.O.D. Music’s Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha T and 2 Chainz picked up the first award of the night (the Reese’s Perfect Combo award) for their collaboration on “Mercy.” West, who was nominated for a record 17 awards, wasn’t in the building but 2 Chainz accepted on his behalf.

RZA shared that he was glad to see hip-hop come so far from mixtapes to movies as he plugged his upcoming flick, The Man With the Iron Fists, which hits screens Nov. 2.

The Cyphers segment also had the audience captivated to see which rapper spit the dopest rhymes. A highlight of the show, this year’s Cyphers featured a great mix of veteran rappers and newcomers. T.I. and his Grand Hustle crew Trae Tha Truth, Chip, Iggy Azalea and B.o.B. presented the first Cypher of the night.

RZA also participated in another freestyle round — the Iron Fists Cypher — featuring Angel Haze, Joey Badass, Driicky Graham, Childish Gambino and A$ap Rocky. Snoop headed a rhyme session that included Kurupt, E-40, YG, Xzibit and DJ Quik, while DMX hosted the Ruff Ryders rap exchange with rappers Murder Mook, Cassidy and Eve. Talib Kweli dropped lyrics with Ab-Soul, Sarkodie and Jean Grae. Plus, Mystikal returned as part of the Raw Cypher which also featured Jaybird the PurdiBoi, SchoolBoy Q, Hopsin and Mac Miller.