"Don't read the bull in the news, I'm a real dude," Brown told the crowd.
Brown opened the show with a medley of new songs, including one that featured vocals from late R&B singer Aaliyah and another with Minaj, who joined him onstage. BET couldn't bleep some of the rapper's expletives — much like the awards show last year. Expletives from Badu, Wayne Brady and the singers who performed with R. Kelly slipped, too.
Carey was angelic as she belted — or lip synched — her latest hit, "#Beautiful," and an excited R. Kelly sang snippets of a dozen of his hits — including "Bump N Grind" and "Ignition" — as the crowd cheered on.
Host Chris Tucker sang and danced too — in tribute to Michael Jackson.
Miguel won the night's first award, best male R&B pop artist, beating out Brown, Timberlake, Usher and Bruno Mars.
"I got to really give it up to all the other guys in this category," Miguel said.
Don Cheadle presented Miguel with the award, and dedicated the night to the ailing Nelson Mandela.
"We want to take a moment and send our prayers and thoughts to a man who literally changed the world," he said. "This evening we would like to offer prayers and support and hope to the extraordinary Nelson Mandela and his family."
Jamie Foxx, wearing a shirt that featured a picture of Trayvon Martin, won best actor, and danced onstage with Kevin Hart when accepting the honor.
Hart, who hosted the BET Awards in the past, was overly excited onstage, even stealing the shine from Tucker, who was a mediocre host.
Rihanna won best female R&B pop artist and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis won best group.
Olympic gold medalist Gabrielle Douglas won sportswoman of the year and the youngstars award. She thanked BET for "just for embracing me after Olympics."
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