Billboard Music Award winner Drake calls for more respect between artists
Billboard Music Award winner Drake called for more respect between artists following the deaths of several high-profile industry figures.
In the last 12 months, rappers XXXTentacion, Mac Miller and Nipsey Hussle have all died, with the latter being gunned down in Los Angeles in March.
XXXTentacion was also shot dead while Miller died of an overdose.
Speaking on stage in Las Vegas after being named top male artist at the Billboard awards, Canadian rapper Drake explained how the losses had affected him.
He said: “This means a lot to me because it’s an artist award.
“We have obviously had an unfortunate series of losses within our business and I just want to encourage everybody to let other artists know how you feel about them.
“Let them know that you love and respect them while we’re all still here.”
He thanked his fellow rapper Schoolboy Q for recently praising him in public before addressing the star-studded crowd and adding: “To all of us, we put in a lot of work together, this is our thing, we’ve got to protect it.
“So I encourage you tonight to show somebody some love, tell somebody you love their music or love what they do.”
Earlier, Taylor Swift raised the curtain on the annual awards show at the MGM Grand Garden Arena with an energetic performance of her latest hit single.
The pop superstar took to the stage alongside Panic! At The Disco’s Brendon Urie, who features on the newly released track Me!
Swift and Urie wore matching shimmering outfits for an upbeat performance, which was met by rapturous applause.
Seated in the audience were some of the industry’s biggest stars, including Cardi B.
The rapper – accompanied by her husband, Offset – leads the way in nominations with 21, including for the all-important top artist prize.
An early winner on the night was British star Ella Mai, who was named top R&B Artist.
She saw off competition from H.E.R, Khalid, The Weeknd and late rapper XXXTentacion.
Ella Mai was born in London but moved to New York as a child and has experienced more success in her adopted country than the UK, thanks to her number one hit Boo’d Up.
K-pop superstars BTS took home the prize for top social artists before the ceremony had officially got under way and added to their haul when named top duo/group.
The wildly popular band took to the stage to deafening screams, before telling the crowd success had not changed them and they still have the “same dreams”.
Imagine Dragons won top rock group and used their acceptance speech to condemn the use of conversion therapy in the US.
Frontman Dan Reynolds said the pseudo-scientific practice, used to change an individual’s sexual orientation, is legal in 34 states and called for a total ban.
Other performers included The Jonas Brothers, Khalid and Madonna, while Mariah Carey, who will receive the Icon Award, will also perform.
Unlike other awards ceremonies, including the Grammys, there is no body of experts deciding who wins at the Billboards, instead prizes are handed out based on album and digital songs sales, streaming, radio airplay, touring, and social engagement.