Tuesday, October 12, 2010

2010 BET Hip-Hop Awards: What you won't see on TV

Posted By on Tue, Oct 12, 2010 at 4:57 PM

WHERES WAKA? On stage — no, really — at rehearsal the day before taping of the BET Hip Hop Awards.
  • TARA-LYNNE PIXLEY
  • WHERE'S WAKA? On stage — no, really — at rehearsal the day before taping of the BET Hip Hop Awards.

If you follow Diddy on Twitter, you know that the 2010 BET Hip-Hop Awards, which were filmed in Atlanta on Oct. 2, air tonight. Now, filming in Atlanta has been no easy feat for the awards show. Most famously, T.I. was arrested literally moments before the 2007 show, and the next year Kat Williams pulled out of the show in the midnight hour. But this year, there was no reason why so many artists were not there, other than Kanye West who locked up a "Saturday Night Live" gig, ensuring that there was absolutely no chance of a live performance from him, scheduled or not. All in all, it was more a no-show show than an awards show. No Jay-Z. No Eminem. No Drake. Mind you, they all won awards.

Oh there was some star power in the Atlanta Civic Center. Nelly, who has the No. 4 song in the country, was there with Kelly Rowland seated between him and Devyne Stephens. He didn’t take the stage though. Rick Ross and Diddy did, with MC Hammer of all people. There was Gucci Mane, Waka Flocka, Soulja Boy, B.o.B., Big Boi, Yelawolf, Cali Swag, J Cole and a few others, including Antoine Dodson (how is he on a hip-hop show? Your guess is as good as mine) and Digital Underground. Surprisingly, the Dipset reunion was probably the “live” highlight. “Salute” sounded like an anthem coming to life.

The previously taped MC cyphers were the absolute highlight actually. Those had a heck of a lot more star power — Ice Cube and Reverend Run rhyming with their sons, Kanye West and the GOOD Music family, including Common, Royce Da 5’9 and Raekwon. Atlanta’s own Farnsworth Bentley and Yelawolf also graced the cyphers. Now from where I was seated, it was absolutely hard to see the cyphers and the performances. That experience was challenging to say the least, partly due to the overly zealous usher.

Where does Atlanta get these ushers from? A whole group of us were the only ones sitting in our section and there were two seats open in the row in front so the couple next to me — who had gone out to get a drink only to discover that the Atlanta Civic Center was completely dry for the event (guess hip-hop and alcohol aren't a good combination even with all those chart-topping alcohol-drenched songs) — took those seats upon their return. The older black female usher had a conniption and rearranged our entire row so that we were all sitting squished together when, previously, we had all been fine and comfortable. Maybe a little comfort was just too much to deliver. Oh, and I almost forgot the other ushers who just stood in our way. Already we were sitting at the worst possible angle, and then they wanted to block the view, too.

Mike Epps hosted the show again and he was funny. Many of his jokes will not air, of course. When Soulja Boy performed “Pretty Boy Swag,” curiously alone, for example, Mike Epps said in his introduction, “our next performer is so young that Bishop Long is back there looking at him with binoculars.” Needless to say that will not air on tonight’s broadcast. Maybe his clowning of Puffy (as he was known back in the day) and Mase’s shiny suits will. If Jermaine Dupri’s intro to the BET special, “The Top 10 Rappers of the 21st Century,” set to air this Friday, October 15, makes the cut, his consistent use of the word “bullshit” in reference to the program won’t.

By now, the Waka Flocka-Stephen Hill Twitter exchange is far from a secret. True to his namesake, though, there were flames aplenty on the stage for “No Hands." But Waka, who was with Roscoe Dash, chose to ignite his fireworks in the crowd, and that’s when Hill got upset. Apparently, going off the script is not appreciated at BET. An element of surprise has to be planned. It’s hard to imagine that Hill would have taken to Twitter and complained if, say, Jay-Z or Eminem had showed up and done the same thing. I’m not the biggest Waka fan but, given the lightness of the performers on hand, I do think Hill should have been grateful Waka even wanted to perform like this awards show mattered.

Gucci Mane made an appearance, too, performing with Swizz Beatz, or Mr. Alicia Keys, as he is known these days. It was animated. “Gucci Time” isn’t exactly a low-key song. Does Gucci even know what low-key is? B.o.B. performing solo was a great gesture. I can't say the crowd was feeling it but it was a great gesture to broaden that crowd's definition of hip-hop.

But, of course, Nicki Minaj was there. She won three awards but did not perform. By adopting a British accent for at least one award acceptance speech, she did do her best to entertain, however. I may not be a fan but judging by the “I love you Nicki” shout-outs from the crowd, she has quite a few. Trina presented an award with Trey Songz. As you guessed, there was some sort of sexual back and forth, but I promise you I don’t recall it.

Interestingly enough, Salt-N-Pepa was honored as a trio. To most of us, Spinderella is very much a part of Salt-N-Pepa, but when I interviewed Spin last year for a female DJ story I did, she informed me that she hadn’t always felt that love. Some years ago, the dynamic duo let her know that there was the “we” and “she” and that’s why she started grinding so seriously. Glad that worked out for them and that they are recognized as a group. To me, they were always and still are the female Run-DMC.

There was indeed a Guru tribute with DJ Premier, Guru’s son and nephew present. Oh Premier, by the way, dropped the beat for the most stellar cyphers. As we know, Guru was a Morehouse man. What you might not know is that his dad was the first black judge in Boston. During the presentation, Atlanta’s role in the development of GangStarr was not ignored. All that Solar ish was alluded to because that’s just something that’s hard to ignore. Premier also stood up for the South, making it very clear that neither he nor Guru were from New York. In my New York days, my New York friends claimed them with a passion. It was disappointing that no GangStarr songs were performed. Surely somebody could have ripped something. I can’t even remember if they played a medley. I’m sure, for the broadcast, there will be some sort of video presentation. In person, however, it didn’t feel as reverent as it should have.

I will say that the show ran very orderly. Unlike years past, the entire process was pleasant. There was no need to curse anyone out and, as long as the directions were followed, the aggravation was very minimal. So this is definitely a kinder, gentler BET. The problem is this is the only national hip-hop awards show and too many performers are taking it for granted. In the 1990s and even early 2000s, hip-hop was widely commercial. As 2010 draws to a close, that seems to not be the case. Yes, there are rappers who are still mainstream darlings, but is there a next crop? Or is this the end of the line? I am positive BET shares in the blame, too. I’m not a champion of all things BET but I do hope they will try to keep this level of national recognition going. After all, we can't let a national hip-hop awards show completely disappear from television, so do tune in tonight at 8 p.m., even if it is only to share in the diss fest on Twitter.

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