Las Vegas R&B; newcomer Ashanti made an impressive debut at the Billboard Music Awards, taking home eight awards Monday night while rap star Nelly won honors in six categories. The album of the year went to Eminem for "The Eminem Show."
Ashanti, 22, was named the year's top female artist, R&B;/hip-hop artist and female R&B;/hip-hop artist. She also picked up awards for her single "Foolish."
Nelly was named 2002's top artist, top male artist and R&B;/hip-hop artist. He also won honors for his song "Hot in Herre."
Puddle of Mud became the first group to sweep all four rock awards since U2 did it in 1992 by winning artist of the year, top rock track for "Blurry," modern rock artist and modern rock track.
Nickelback picked up four awards, including the hot 100 single of the year for "How You Remind Me."
"The Eminem Show" is the Detroit rapper's third disc. In winning, Eminem beat out Nelly's "Nellyville," Creed's "Weathered" and Pink's "M!ssundaztood."
The Billboard Awards honor the year's chart-topping artists. Cedric the Entertainer hosted the show, which aired on Fox.
The show at the MGM Grand Garden Arena also scheduled performances by 17-year-old Canadian singer Avril Lavigne, who had one of the year's biggest hits, "Complicated," Faith Hill, Justin Timberlake and Creed.
Aerosmith's Steven Tyler presented Cher with an achievement award, and comedian Chris Tucker presented a special "Thriller" award for Michael Jackson, who did not attend.
Tyler also joined rap stars, including Busta Rhymes and Ja Rule, in a tribute to Run-DMC. The pioneering hip-hop group disbanded last month after DJ Jam Master Jay was shot to death in his New York recording studio.
The Billboard Awards are determined by the magazine's year-end chart listings, which are based on record sales and airplay. Winners in several categories won't be announced until later this month.