HOLLYWOOD—I remember the days when the BET Awards were appointment TV. It was the awards ceremony for African-Americans that were suited for the entire family. They were exciting, full or WTF moments and musical performances that had people abuzz the following day for water cooler conversations. It seems the gravitas of the awards show is a thing of the past. Big names that used to be staples at the ceremony have all, but virtually disappeared. Beyoncé who earned multiple nods was a no-show, Drake who held the most nominations was not at the ceremony, and Lizzo was nowhere to be found.
I totally get if people are on tour and just cannot make the ceremony, but I guarantee you if they were nominated for an Academy Award or a Grammy they would attend that ceremony. Yeah, I said it, and I don’t care. I noticed things a bit lackluster this year. For starters, there was no host. That is likely a result of the current writer’s strike that is getting ready to enter its third month, and we are also on the cusp of a potential SAG-AFTRA strike as well. With that said it just seemed like this year’s ceremony was just performance after performance after performance.
Were actual awards handed out? A few were, but not enough for the viewers at home to remember who was nominated and who were victorious. What I can tell you from the nearly 4 hour telecast that I can recall is that Coco Jones won Best New Artist, Teyana Taylor won Video Director of the Year (she appeared via a cellphone video) and Latto won Best Female Hip-Hop Artist. Yes, I only recall 3 winners from the big night. With that said, the performances were a massive highlight in particular the highlight of 50 years of Hip-Hop. I mean hearing that old school music from the 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, were just fantastic. I mean Big Daddy Kane, Doug E Fresh, the Sugar Hill Gang, MC Lyte, Erick Sermon were just some of the names that took the stage.
We also had T.I, Master P (who hasn’t performed in forever, taking the stage for one of the biggest hits of the 90s), rapper Trina and Trick Daddy performing their iconic hit that had everyone buzzing in the 90s, Fabolous, Uncle Luke, Ja Rule, it felt like I was reliving my early teen and 20s all over again and I was living for every moment of those iconic performances. Do I wish I could recall many of the new school performers today like Ice Spice, Latto, GloRilla and so many others? Yes, but hip-hop and rap music today is nothing like it was 10 to 15 years ago. It just feels like everyone wants that 15 minutes of fame and social media is the main spotlight to get it. This is not to say today’s performers don’t understand the struggle that the musicians of the 70s, 80s, 90s, and early 00s had to endure; because the challenges are still there, it just feels so much different today people.
We had that performance by icon Patti LaBelle who attempted to pay tribute to rock icon Tina Turner who recently passed away. LaBelle had trouble seeing the teleprompter to sing those words for Turner’s iconic hit “Simply the Best.” It was awkward, but LaBelle powered thru. You know who should have been at the ceremony to pay tribute to Turner, Beyoncé. Yeah, Beyoncé would have rocked that stage like no other. Think about Tina and Beyoncé’s iconic performance at the Grammy Awards a few years ago that was must-see TV.
Busta Rhymes received the Lifetime Achievement Award celebrating his massive span of a career and his iconic music and collaborations with some of the biggest names in the industry people. Rhymes would later hit the stage to perform by showing a bit of vulnerability by crying on stage while he accepted his award presented to him by comedian Marlon Wayans and music producer Swizz Beatz.
I miss the old school BET Awards, and I fear that fun of the early 00s are long gone, it sucks to say that because seeing the Culture pay tribute to the Culture is one of a kind people. However, the BET Awards that used to be so iconic has lost so much steam over the years, and I question rather that can ever return to the small screen.