Lions and tigers and flex zones. Oh my.
The BET Hip Hop Awards, aka “the one with the cyphers,” aired Tuesday night in all their budgeted glory. And for the unimaginative among us, this was that coveted time of the year to hop on the Innanets to self-importantly side-eye BET’s shortcomings.
But I do it for the culture—the ones who rock to Migos and earnestly await the legitimate reincarnation of Freaknik. This year I fully enjoyed the Hip Hop Awards and subsequently have thoughts (and questions) and things. Here they are, in no particular order:
1. Snoop Dogg is a national treasure.
Seriously, who doesn’t love Uncle Snoop? He’s smooth, effortless and hilarious. An impeccable hosting choice for BET, and hopefully the start of a trend. I fully expect (and insist) that before it’s all over with, we’ll see him on the screen hosting the Oscars.
2. The quote-unquote “black” awards show is still the most diverse.
To date, BET has included performers from four of the seven continents, and Tuesday night it gave a platform to an array of talent—black, white and other—and multiple female MCs, like newcomer Detroit Che, who dominated the second cypher. At a time when MTV’s Video Music Awards are still scared to veer into too-urban territory and the Grammys are still, well, the Grammys, it’s nice to see that BET keeps it diverse. We see you, Debra and Stephen.
3. Today’s rappers really like dancing, and it’s awesome.
I don’t really miss old-school hip-hop all that much, but I do miss the dancing, especially from the guys. Seeing Rae Sremmurd doing a one-two with WeAreToonz (creators of the Nae Nae), Snoop hitting that same two-step and TerRio doing the shmoney dance with Bobby Shmurda reminded me of Heavy D, Hammer, Salt-N-Pepa, etc. My soul cried out.
4. TerRio is not losing weight.
Look, the kid is a delight, but he said he’d trim down if he got 250,000 retweets, and it’s just not happening. He’s got to take his health more seriously for his own sake, and for ours. We need him healthy so we can see him doing this at award shows, forever:
5. How long did it take to learn this? And when can I?
6. Does anyone on earth have the self-confidence of Lil Mama?
I’d still be in the same cave I slinked into after Jay Z swatted me to the side like a Tinder rejection back in ’09. But no, Lil Mama is still here and she’s still her own biggest fan. Hat tip.
7. Why did the ’90s have to end?
Why is Brandy so fine? Why is Queen Latifah’s hair celestial? Why is the “I Wanna Be Down” remix so perfect still?
8. About those cyphers …
The Remy Ma and Papoose couples verse was sorta nice, but overall? Meh. At this rate, next year they’ll have me and you, your mama and your cousin, too up there. I miss this and this. (Hi, Rihanna.) Invite them back.
9. Regarding that Migos visual.
10. It can be tricky infusing social commentary into award shows.
Kudos to BET for allowing David Banner to rap unedited for a more palpable effect, producing the memorable line, “How you proud to sell dope to your own folks, nigga?” Let’s just not mention the fact that a half hour later, “Move That Dope” won an award.
There was more, of course. Seeing Michael Brown’s parents leading a moment of silence to honor their late son was poignant. For different reasons, so was Doug E. Fresh’s acceptance speech as the night’s “I Am Hip Hop” honoree. There are only two goals with these award shows: some fun and a celebration of all things hip-hop. And for this year’s installment, I’d say it was mission accomplished.
Aaron Randle is a Howard-bred writer living in Kansas City, Mo.