Nicki Minaj at the 2010 BET Hip Hop Awards

*Nicki Minaj and Jay-Z collected three trophies apiece at Saturday’s taping of the 2010 BET Hip-Hop Awards.

Lil Wayne’s female protégé scored Rookie of the Year, People’s Champ and the Made You Look honor, which was awarded in recognition of her fashion flair.

Sporting a black dominatrix-like outfit, blond bob hairdo, pink nails and lipstick, Minaj took to the stage to accept her first award and was overcome by the recognition.

“Last year, I was here in anticipation of the cypher,” she told the crowd, referring to the artist rap freestyles that run in between the award presentations and performances. “Now I’m here in anticipation of my debut. [“Pink Friday,” set for release Nov. 23.]

“I’m paving the way for girls,” she continued. “I wanna thank all the girls of hip-hop.”

Jay-Z, who was a no-show, earned Perfect Combo (for his Alicia Keys-assisted “Empire State of Mind”), CD of the Year (“The Blueprint 3”) and Best Live Performer.

Diddy and Rick Ross

Rick Ross earned two awards: the Miami don’s “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast)” earned Track of the Year for producer Lex Luger, and the industrial-strength number nabbed Club Banger of the Year honors.

Ross also delivered one of the night’s most memorable onstage moments when he, Diddy and DJ Khaled opened the show with a pyrotechnic-enhanced rendition of his award-winning anthem before easing the Atlanta Civic Center crowd into “MC Hammer.”

“B****, I’m MC Hammer,” Ross rapped. “I’m about cream. I got 30 cars, whole lot of dancers/ I take them everywhere, I’m MC Hammer/ Started selling dough, I’m too legit to quit/ When it’s hammer time, I’m pulling out the stick.”

MC Hammer himself then appeared onstage, leading a troop of dancers dressed in ensembles honoring the Marines. The veteran superstar performed his hit “2 Legit 2 Quit.”

MC Hammer

Harlem’s Diplomats reunited onstage for the first time since they reconciled over the summer after years of squabbling. Cam’ron, Jim Jones, Juelz Santana and Freekey Zekey gave the audience their latest offering, “Salute.”

Big Boi featuring Yelawolf, Soulja Boy Tell’em, J. Cole, Cali Swag District with Digital Underground, Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka Flame were among the evening’s other performers.

Yelawolf and Big Boi

B.o.B brought his hometown crowd to its feet with a rousing rendition of his next single, the melancholy “Don’t Let Me Fall.”

Iconic female trio Salt-N-Pepa were honored with the I Am Hip-Hop award. Diddy (Hustler award), Swizz Beatz (Producer of the Year) and DJ Khaled (Best DJ) rounded out the winners. DJ Premier led a tribute to Guru, the late Gang Starr MC.

DJ Premier and the family of Guru of Gang Starr

The ceremony featured seven cyphers, from the father and son pairings of Ice Cube and his two boys rhyming with Reverend Run and Diggy and Jojo Simmons to the Rosewood cypher, which featured Kanye West and his G.O.O.D. Music family: Common, Pusha T, Big Sean and CyHi Da Prynce.

The latter collective upped the ante on their freestyle set by sporting black-tie clothing; including DJ Premier. West drew one of the loudest cheers of any cypher with his array of punch lines, including: “Y’all got too many Urkels on your team, that’s why y’all win slow.”  [Watch more cyphers below.]

Mike Epps

The 2010 BET Hip-Hop Awards, hosted by Mike Epps, is scheduled to air Oct. 12 at 8 p.m. on BET.


Cypher 1: Vado x Farnsworth Bentley x Raychester
Cypher 2: Reema Major, x Nick Javas x Laws