Ma, who was released from prison in 2014, won best female hip hop artist Sunday in Los Angeles, an award Minaj has won since 2010. Ma last won the prize in 2005, and was sentenced to prison three years later after she shot a former friend after accusing her of theft.
“I wanna thank God first and foremost,” said Ma, who named two correctional facilities in her speech and thanked her mentor Fat Joe and husband-rapper Papoose. “You can make mistakes and come back.”
In March, Ma released the hostile diss track Shether, which earned praised from critics and rap fans. Minaj never officially responded to the song.
At the live show at the Microsoft Theater, ’90s R&B favorites New Edition and Xscape were the most welcomed performers of the night.
New Edition, whose three-part biopic was a white-hot ratings success for BET earlier this year, earned the lifetime achievement award and received a lengthy tribute. It started with the child actors from the movie singing Candy Girl, later followed by the older actors for some of the band’s hits apart from the group, including Bell Biv DeVoe’s Poison and Ralph Tresvant’s Sensitivity.
The real group then hit to stage to sing Can You Stand the Rain and Mr. Telephone Man. The actors later joined New Edition for If It Isn’t Love.
Girl group Xscape, set to launch a new reality show on Bravo, reunited at the BET Awards and sang the popular hits Just Kickin’ It, ‘Understanding and Who Can I Run To? The crowd was in awe, singing along and filming the performance with their phones.
Bruno Mars, whose new album was heavily inspired by ’90s R&B, also shined Sunday. He and Beyonce tied for video of the year — the top prize but not televised — with their hits 24K Magic and Sorry. Mars also won best male R&B/pop artist and kicked off the show with a fun and funky performance of the song, Perm.
“To the fans, you know I love you. My first BET Award,” he screamed.
Kendrick Lamar surprised the audience when he performed with Future and won best male hip hop artist. He gave a shout-out to fellow nominee Chance the Rapper, who earned…