Smokey Fontaine and I go through this every year. We bicker like children over the socio-political implications of the annual BET Awards. I think last year’s show picked our current president. He thinks it was ‘ok’.
One thing we do seem to agree on, though, is that the best rap performance is usually a coronation of the at-the-minute top rapper in the game. In 2001, Jay-Z had the gall to actually debut the song “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” and killed it. In 2003, 50 Cent blew the doors off the show with “What Up Gangsta”. Last year, Lil Wayne sang something; but it was good.
And I can’t deny that I wasn’t waiting for this moment again, as part of the numbing process. I was hoping that maybe Drake would do something interesting, but he just sat there, rapping from a stool like an old man. I also hoped that Hov would cut his “DOA” performance short to kick his lead verse from the remix of “You Rock My World” but I was disappointed. Lil Wayne didn’t disappoint me any more than he has of late, which was completely.
Other offenders on this horrible night were Beyonce. By showing up on stage in an all white gown, she had me gassed to think that she was gonna refigure Diana Ross’ “Missing You” tribute to Marvin Gaye for… you know, but she sang “Ave Maria” and I wanted to throw some kind of magical shoe that could pass through my television screen and conk her on the head.
But there was good, of course. Much good. Maxwell was brilliant and single-handedly brought back the double-breasted suit. Ne-Yo freaked his version of “The Lady In My Life”. The OJays were great with the exception of not singing “I Love Music“, “Love Train” or “Cry Together“. And Jamie Foxx was a competent host and funny and he was also the only one that gave us what we needed all night long. Then Janet Jackson showed up to reclaim what was hers.
After that, we went back to mourning. I must admit, it was an almost impossible task trying to both celebrate and grieve at the same time and on only three days notice.
But it was done.