Rapper Kendrick Lamar dominated the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday as the glitzy gala took a political turn with impassioned denunciations of white supremacists in America.
Lamar won the most prestigious award of Video of the Year for "HUMBLE.," his ironic look at his growing fame in which he dresses up as everything from the pope to Jesus in "The Last Supper."
He opened the show in Los Angeles with a martial arts-themed performance with ninja dancers, one of whom eerily appeared to set himself ablaze.
One of the most acclaimed rappers of recent times, Lamar took home six statuettes -- rechristened the "Moon Person" from "Moonman" to be gender-neutral.
English songwriter Ed Sheeran won Artist of the Year, a new prize after the separate male and female categories were merged, while rapper Khalid won for new artist.
While Lamar's latest album "DAMN." toned down his earlier political bent, the globally televised awards gala itself did anything but.
The mother of Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old anti-racism protester killed when an avowed white supremacist drove into a crowd during the August 12 unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia, took the stage and vowed to "make Heather's death count."
Controlling her emotions as the crowd applauded, Susan Bro announced a foundation in her daughter's name to offer scholarships to pursue careers in social justice.
Bro presented "Best Fight Against the System," a new award that recognizes activism in a music video. In the spirit of equality, Bro said all six contenders would share the prize.
The songs ranged from attacks on racism to "Scars to Your Beautiful" by rising star Alessia Cara, an ode to healthy body image which she performed at the awards, dancers around her rustling her hair and removing her oversized dress.
The singer P!NK also took up body perceptions as she accepted an award for lifetime achievement, saying she gave a PowerPoint demonstration to her daughter about successful androgynous musicians after the six-year-old voiced doubt about her femininity.