20 Questions: 2014 Soul Train Awards Review

soul train awards logo 2014

So I decided to make the poor life choice of watching the annual Soul Train Awards Sunday night instead of viewing The Walking Dead’s midseason finale. Thanks for spoiling the shocking ending, Twitter.

Catching the Soul Train Awards seemed like a good idea at the time. Of all the award shows I endure for your reading pleasure, the Soul Train Awards tends to be the most consistently watchable. It’s the one awards show you can watch with your parents and not have to answer questions like “Now who is that?” and “Why his pants so tight? Is that how they wear them now?” every 20 minutes.

If you were off being depressed by The Walking Dead, here’s what you missed.

1. My Cousin Chris Brown opened the show with a medley of hits — “Yo,” “Poppin’,” “Take You Down,” “New Flame” and “Loyal.” It was surprisingly entertaining, reminding me that I kinda like pre-domestic violence Breezy. So what did my local cable channel do immediately after that performance? Run a commercial for his upcoming tour, featuring his HORRIBLE version of “This Christmas.” The beef is back on.

2. When did y’all let Wendy Williams out of Twitter jail for AaliyahGate? Wendy served as host, opening the show with a ratchet version of the Phantom of the Opera that had her wheezing for breath after a 30-second dance sequence. The only exercise she gets is stretching the truth and jumping to conclusions, so that’s no shock.

3. During the show’s opening, when the announcer named the celebrities and artists in attendance, the wifey burst in the bedroom asking “DID I HEAR BEYONCE’S NAME???” That Beyhive has some strong mind control if women think “Kool and the Gang” sounds like “Beyonce.”

4. Why did Leela James (whom I love) and Elle Varner (who never met a note she couldn’t flatten) turn an introduction for Norwegian group Nico and Vinz into a Twix commercial? Actually, the entire night was filled with intrusive ads for Vegas acts and candy. VERY annoying.

5. Kem, master composer of songs for your doctor’s waiting room, joined Ledisi for solid performance. How long is the world going to sleep on Lesisi? Strong albums, impeccable style — she’s a master of her craft.

6. We Are Coonz Toonz performed their “hit,” the Nae Nae. How much you wanna bet 95% of the audience had never heard that song outside of Vine videos?

7. The competition was stiff for the Best Collaboration award: Babyface & Toni Braxton’s “Hurt You,” Janelle Monae and Miguel’s “Primetime” among others. There’s NO WAY a song as lazy as Cousin Breezy’s “Loyal” would win, right?

you must be new here

8. So, Beyonce wins the Chaka Khan Female Soul Award and where is my Bey-obsessed wifey? Oh yeah, watching The Walking Dead. And speaking of missing in action, if y’all thought Bey was showing up to this dog and pony show, playa please.

9. Seriously, how many reality shows are y’all gonna let Keyshia Cole have? Frankie better not show up in this one…

10. Now, it was time for the night’s first reunion — Jodeci! And didn’t they sound great? It was like they were hitting every note perfectly from 1993…

Until I realized they were lip-syching. And while it’s not uncommon for artists to pre-record their vocals before a show and sing over those on stage, these dudes were clearly singing from CDs from the Clinton Administration. Oh well, it was the best fake karaoke performance you could ask for. Plus, no one fell off the stage or passed out! Take the victories where you can.

11. Ugh, can’t we get one awards show without the presence of Flavor Flav? For every step he takes toward the camera, black folks take two steps back.

12. The awards served as a launching pad for newcomer Tinashe, who performed her hits “Pretend” and “2 On.” Of course Twitter ripped her performance to shreds but it wasn’t bad at all. Once she sharpens her stage presence, she could go places. Just keep her away from Future, OK? She looks like rapper babymomma bait.

13. Once again, Cousin Chris Brown’s “Loyal” won an award, this time for Best Hip Hop Performance. Because when I think of hip-hop, I think of a irritable R&B singer in a baggy hoodie and tight pants shaming “hoes,” don’t you?

14. During Wolf Blitzer’s monologue about social justice, my girl @ShesSoDriven asked a mighty good question on Twitter: “So the non Black ppl gotta speak on social injustice at the SOUL TRAIN AWARDS! Why?”

My response: “Black folks too busy celebrating songs about disloyal hoes, I guess.”

15. I know this is the pot calling the kettle African-American, here goes: Twitter is never happy. Why was everyone so critical of gospel supergroup 3WB paying tribute to the year’s fallen artists? It’s not like it was 3LW was singing “Playas Gon Play.”

16. Did you know Judge Mathis was the cousin of Legend Award recipients Kool and the Gang? Because, by my count, he mentioned it FIVE DIFFERENT TIMES throughout the night. Chill, playa.

17. Kool and the Gang are the epitome of longevity. Thanks to their deep catalog of hits, and a younger generation eager to sample their music, they’ve had a career that’s lasted more than 40 years. Do you think your current favorite artists will last that long?  Ninety-nine percent of the tight-pants brigade will be on the back of milk cartons by 2016.

18. The Kool and the Gang tribute was nostalgic fun, but sorta weird. The performances were solid but random, paring Joe and Tamar Braxton for “Too Hot” and MC Lyte and Elle Varner for “Summertime.” And who dragged Pastor Ma$e out of the pulpit for “Feels So Good?”


Ma$e bought that outfit at Man Alive in 1999.

19. The evening ended with spirited revival of Lil’ Kim’s “Ladies Night,” reuniting Kim, Da Brat and Missy Elliott, along with Total (?) and Eric Benet (???). Weird pairing aside, it was great  to see female rap return to the spotlight. And although Kim’s face looked like a frozen Kabuki mask, when did she lose all that baby weight? She looked great (from the neck down).

20. As is customary, the Soul Train Awards ended with a Soul Train Line, and man, everyone seemed to be having the time of their lives. And people were actually DANCING. Remember when people actually moved their bodies to dance, instead of just waving their hands and yelling?

we are toonz

Oh hey, We Are Toonz — didn’t know you were still here. It’s past your bedtime.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad night. There were enough talented performers and ’90s nostalgia to balance out some of the usual buffoonery. It wasn’t as magical as the homie Keith Sweat getting his just due last year but there was enough to hold my interest. It’s worth checking out one of the 500 replays on BET.

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  1. You know I watched The Keith Sweat performance from last year just last week and thought about you!

  2. Great article Ed! I agree, the 90’s nostalgia was the only thing that kept me watching…After the “Ladies’ Night” Reunion, I said “there went the last of great female Hip-Hop, right there in that song. I was so madd about Jodeci and their lip-synching ways….Like everybody else, I was looking forward to hearing how they actually sounded now….but then, on the other hand, I may have been equally, if not, more so disappointed had that been the case…lol

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