BET Awards, I just can’t quit you.
This year, I had the perfect excuse to skip the yearly minstrel show — I was away with my youth group exploring Washington D.C. Clearly it was more important to broaden young minds than rot them with the yodels of Fetty Wap.
But because God has a grand sense of humor, we finished our DC excursion 10 minutes before the awards began. And since half y’all reading this bombarded me with emails asking if a post was in the cards, I figured I’d just make it happen. I’m a nice guy like that.
Yet BET never shows me love.
Originally, I planned to switch up the usual 20 Questions format and just mix running commentary from my youth group with my own. But, shockingly, the show could only hold the attention of 14-year-olds for about 45 minutes before they ran off to the hotel pool. But with the promise of a Bad Boy Records reunion, a Kendrick Lamar performance and a vague “Janet Jackson tribute” I figured that I’d stay the course.
Here’s what went down:
1. The night began with Kendrick Lamar performing “Alright,” and considering this week’s social climate, it was a fitting opener — especially with the tattered American flag waving in the background. For at least four minutes on Sunday night, black folks were winning. But doesn’t it look like Kendrick is slowly morphing into Lasers-era Lupe Fiasco with his baby dreads? I hope it isn’t a sign.
2. Black-ish stars Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson served as this year’s hosts and they were pretty awesome. Even the bits that were just OK — like their ode to Empire — worked well because of their chemistry. And did you see how fast the memes were flying every time TER wore a new dress or catsuit?
Getting these tweets out during award shows pic.twitter.com/m0kJA2AKwQ
— Jordy (@PutMeInnCoach) June 28, 2015
The thirst was real in these Twitter streets.
MyBae Monae had a brief but fun performance of my favorite joint of the summer, “Yoga.” Partner in crime Jidenna also performed “Classic Man.” Jidenna frustrates me — I love his voice and his style, but his music is soooooooo … typical. Maybe it’s the trap beats, perhaps? I feel like he could give us heat, instead he just gives us Hot Pockets.
4. Why does BET continue this farcical “Best Female Rap Artist” category? Just call it The Annual Nicki Minaj Address, where we get the yearly fraudulent “ohh my gossssh I had noooo idea I was gonna win you guysssss” speech. She was joined on stage by her mom, which all but confirmed that Nicki’s butt is as fake as her sincerity. The elder Minaj is no doubt a beautiful lady, proving that black don’t crack, but it looked like she was smuggling an ironing board under her gown. Apologies to Nicki (and Juvenile) but when it comes to that cake, you didn’t get it from your mama.
5. Ever heard of Avery Wilson and Andra Day? They’re BET Music Matters artists — which means we got to hear these truly talented singers perform for about 17 seconds before they were rudely cut off for commercial breaks. BET needs to do better.
6. Playa, The Weeknd’s performance of “Earned It” was weaker than 40-year-old Kool-Aid. Even Alicia Keys couldn’t salvage the performance. Who thought ANY of that was a good idea?
7. In the funniest bit of the night, Anthony Anderson masqueraded as Sam Smith to accept the Best New Artist award. Where was Smith, you ask? Anderson’s answer: “He couldn’t be here because he’s white.”
8. Isn’t it a shame that Donnie McClurkin’s comments about same-sex marriages overshadowed his tribute to Andrae Crouch, arguably one of the best songwriters of ANY genre to ever hold a pen? BET should have thought that through, but this IS BET we’re talking about.
9. But I gotta give BET props here: The Bad Boy Records reunion performance was EVERYTHING it needed to be. Puffy dragged out Ma$e, 112, Faith Evans and the LOX as they unloaded hit after hit. WE EVEN GOT THIS:
— Rachel Marie (@RachelMarieLuv) June 29, 2015
PUFFY HOLD ME DOWN BABY!
I was backflipping off my hotel walls and suplexing furniture by the time “All About the Benjamins (Remix)” rang out. Of course, Puff had to be a buzzkill and conclude the set by debuting a boring new song with Pharrell. Why couldn’t he just drag in Black Rob for “Whoa?”
10. After that outstanding ode to the 90s, your boy was drunk off nostalgia and loving every second of it. So WHY did BET see fit to slap us in the face with that Silento child’s “Watch Me Whip and Nae Nae” song? I swear the BET Awards are like an abusive relationship: You endure all the bad stuff just to get to the awesome moments, then things suck EVEN WORSE afterward. Yet you keep hanging on because of that ONE glimmer of hope.
11. Was it really necessary for Terrence J to be the one to present that girl with a new Nissan, then yak about how his first car was a Nissan? Terrence J: Helping fellow cornballs prosper since 2006.
12. This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient was Smokey Robinson, who was paid tribute by Tori Kelly (who Twitter now loves), Robin Thicke (who Twitter still hates) and Ne-Yo (who sported a tiny little mustache to compliment his Zorro-looking outfit). Smokey stole the show, wearing and AWESOME teal suit that looks like it was made from the skin of Transformers, and giving wisdom to younger artists:
“Be thankful. You are not the first in line and you are not the end of the line, so don’t be so full of yourselves.”
He opened the doors of the church with that one.
But the saddest moment of the night came from my youth group kids who were watching along and had the audacity to say: “Mr. Edward, who is that man?”
Yes, these kids had no clue who Smokey Robinson was, nor his music. We have failed, America.
13. Speaking of failing, Nicki Minaj and Meek Mill — the Great Value Beyonce and Jay Z — shared a touching moment on stage after performing with my sorta-Cousin Chris Brown. Are y’all still buying into this fake relationship?
14. Big Sean performed a medley of songs that apparently are good, but my ears and brain say otherwise. His decent lyrics are totally derailed by his stilted flow and his X-Men-like ability to remain off beat. Dude has been around for, what, five years now, and y’all are still trying to convince me that homie’s one of the best in the game?
15. You didn’t think you were going to make it through a BET Awards without an appearance from BET honcho Debra Lee, did you? She presented the Humanitarian Award to Tom Joyner. Whenever she walks in the room everyone sighs like the assistant principal is about to lecture the lunchroom about not leaving your trays on the table.
16. FINALLY, After what seemed like 3 1/2 weeks, we were finally treated to the long-awaited Janet Jackson tribute.
If you were expecting Janet to sing, dance — basically do ANYTHING — you were sadly mistaken. Instead, we got retrospective dance numbers from Tinashe, Jason DeRulo and Janet Mini-Me Ciara. And don’t get me wrong, the choreography was fantastic. But come on playa, this was a freaking dance recital. Janet even wandered out on the stage at the end like a dance teacher directing parents to cookies and punch in the lobby. Not one note was sung by anyone.
BET selling wolf tickets? Say it ain’t so. They only do it every year.
17. Cousin Chris took home the Fandemonium Award (as usual) along with Best Male R&B/Pop Artist. He also gave his usual “I love my fans, I’m a changed man now, honest” speech.
For the sake of his daughter, I hope he’s right this time. And let’s not mention the bulletproof blouse he was wearing, OK? Good lord.
18. Did you know that K. Michelle and Tamar Braxton had some sort of beef? Well whatever petty thing they were catfighting about is now a dead issue — apparently they made up during their performance. I was more concerned with MISS PATTI LABELLE’S surprise cameo. Only Patti can come through, mend R&B fences and hit high notes all with a pot of greens simmering on the stove back home.
19. In easily the most infuriating moment of the night, Icki Garbaj returned to the stage to receive the Viewer’s Choice Award, and immediately dismissed it by saying “um, what is this award for?” before dishing out some condescending “advice” to the audience. Clearly her weave was stuffed in her ears when Smokey was giving advice earlier. Well, let me tell you what this award is for, playa, it’s the viewer’s choice, meaning that your fans gave you that award — the same fans you brushed them off. Nicki’s body is fake, her persona is fake, her sincerity is fake, her music is fake — WHY do y’all support this woman? It’s apparent she doesn’t care about the people who vote for her vanity awards.
20. Seventeen hours after Kendrick opened the show, it finally closed with Fetty Wap, whose fame watch is reading 14 minutes and 58 seconds right about now. Here’s the cruel irony: Fetty’s target audience — kids that don’t know how badly he sucks — probably had given up on the show by the time he performed. My crew, who had long returned from terrorizing the hotel and were eager to see him, were all asleep by the time he mumbled his way through “Trap Queen.” Only one of my dudes were awake.
His words: “This isn’t very good.”
Give him a Congressional Medal of Honor, DC.
Bottom line: I don’t understand why the BET Awards feels like it has to drag out its running time to be successful. There were definitely some good performances — the tributes, Janelle, Kendrick, BAD BOY, even the K. Michelle/Patti/Tamar thing was solid — but cramming in SO much mediocre stuff like Weeknd n’ Alicia and Watch Me Whip Guy grinds that momentum to a halt. There’s a reason why Tyler Perry’s Madea movies aren’t 3 1/2 hours long — brain damage would set in by then.
DVR one of the billion replays of the show, check out the performances I mentioned and fast forward through the rest, especially any and all things Nicki-related. While I’m in DC I’m gonna get a bill passed to shorten the run times for these award shows. The public’s health is at stake.
I know my mental health is.