Jay-Z and his “Off That” collaborator Drake dominate the nominations for this year’s BET Awards. Jay’s “Empire State of Mind” leads the way with three nods for Video of the Year, Best Collaboration and Viewers’ Choice, while Jay-Z himself is up for Best Male Hip-Hop Artist, and the Blueprint 3 track “Run This Town” also scored a Video of the Year nom. Drake, whose debut album Thank Me Later hasn’t even been released yet, still managed to lock up four nods, plus two extra nominations for being a member of the Young Money crew. Jay-Z and Drake, along with Ludacris, Fabolous and B.o.B, will all face off for Best Male Hip-Hop Artist.
The biggest surprise comes in the Best New Artist category, where tween sensation Justin Bieber managed to score a nod. The Canadian Bieber will be up against Young Money, Melanie Fiona, Nicki Minaj and Wale for the trophy. Beyoncé and Lady Gaga’s “Video Phone (Remix)” was also nominated for two awards, Video of the Year and Best Collaboration. The strangest nomination: Tiger Woods’ nod in the Subway Sportsman of the Year category. The winners will be announced June 26th at the Los Angeles ceremony, which will be hosted by Queen Latifah.
The 2009 BET Awards were a more somber affair, taking place just three days after Michael Jackson’s June 25th death. The show included a quickly assembled tribute to the King of Pop that featured New Edition, host Jamie Foxx, Ne-Yo and Ciara. Jackson’s presence will once again be felt at this year’s BET Awards as his concert rehearsal film This Is It was nominated for Best Movie.