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Drake cleans house at Billboard Awards

Mesfin Fekadu
Associated Press

Drake is cleaning house at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards, picking up 12 honors before the show was half over.

The rapper won 10 awards in an early announcement Sunday and two before the live show was at the halfway mark at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. When picking up the top Billboard 200 album for “Views,” he told co-host Vanessa Hudgens she looks “incredible” and said to fellow host Ludacris, who Drake had problems with at one point, that he’s “always been a big fan.”

Drake also told Nicki Minaj that he’s “so glad we found our way back” and thanked Lil Wayne for guiding their careers. He closed with an ode to his father: “My dad got on purple suit and purple shoes!”

Drake also won top male artist and gave a shout-out to fellow Canadian nominees Justin Bieber, the Weeknd and Shawn Mendes.

Drake will perform later in the show.

Miley Cyrus sang her breezy new single, “Malibu,” delivering a sound and muted style that were marked departure from the hits that made her a pop star years ago. She was teary eyed at the end of the performance.

“And for the first time in years with pants on,” Noah Cyrus, standing next to father Billy Ray Cyrus, introduced her older sister, who was wearing white shorts and a cowboy hat.

Nicki Minaj kicked off the show with an explosive nine-minute performance of her hit songs alongside her mentor Lil Wayne and frequent collaborator David Guetta.

Minaj recently broke Aretha Franklin’s record for most songs placed on the Billboard Hot 100 chart by a female artist. The rapper-singer, who was also joined by Jason Derulo at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, performed “No Frauds,” her song that was a response to fellow rapper Remy Ma’s infamous diss track against Minaj.

Drake walked into the Billboard Awards with 10 awards, while early winners included Beyonce, who won five, and twenty one pilots, who won four. The Chainsmokers and Halsey won the first televised award — top collaboration — for “Closer.”

“Honestly we wrote this on the back of a tour bus,” said Andrew Taggart, adding that Halsey “made this a hit song.”

The Chainsmokers performed “Young” with Taggart on vocals and Alex Pall behind the board (they were also backed by a drummer). Ed Sheeran performed “Castle on the Hill” from Santiago, Chile, while Lorde sang her upbeat song “Green Light.”

Drake and the Chainsmokers were top contenders with 22 nominations each. The rapper and the electronic dance duo are two of the few top-nominated acts who plan to attend the show. Beyonce, Rihanna, Adele, Ariana Grande, the Weeknd, twenty one pilots and Shawn Mendes will not attend.

Some are on tour, while Beyonce is pregnant with twins. It was unclear if Justin Bieber would attend the show.

All 10 of those acts are nominated for the night’s biggest award — top artist. Performers include Bruno Mars, Celine Dion and Cher, who will receive the Icon award.

Some of Drake’s early wins included top Billboard 200 artist, top Hot 100 artist, top rap artist, top rap album (”Views”) and top R&B song (”One Dance”). Beyonce’s wins included top female artist, top touring artist and top R&B album for “Lemonade,” the visual project that won a Peabody Award on Saturday at its 76th annual event in New York.

The Chainsmokers, named top dance/electronic artist, are nominated twice for top Hot 100 song with “Closer,” which spent 12 weeks at No. 1 last year, and the Grammy-winning “Don’t Let Me Down,” which peaked at No. 3. Other nominees include Drake’s “One Dance” (10 weeks at No. 1); Justin Timberlake’s Oscar-nominated “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” (a week at No. 1); and twenty one pilots’ “Heathens,” which peaked at No. 2.

Imagine Dragons, who will perform during the show, will pay tribute to the late Chris Cornell in words before they hit the stage. Cornell died Thursday after performing with Soundgarden in Detroit.

Others set to perform Sunday include Sam Hunt, Florida Georgia Line, John Legend and Halsey.