What You Didn't See At The '08 BET Awards
From a Hip Hop perspective, it wasn't the most exciting show in the world. So to spruce things up, there will be some scenes from Friday sprinkled throughout this year’s coverage because the plethora of one liners in that classic film (that features Nia Long…more on her later) will assist in providing the some dialog for this year’s edition of “What You Didn’t See…”
You’ll read about the good the bad and the outright ridiculous. But let’s start with the evening before the awards.
The Game [click to read] had his listening party for his upcoming L.A.X. album. Unfortunately, because it was wedged in some corner of Santa Monica, we showed up a bit late and missed out on hearing the album. Big burly security guards didn’t give a shit about a guest list and gave us the cold shoulder by saying the event was ending in 10 minutes for the next 20 minutes. Yeah, we were salty.
So what did we do? Went to Jermaine Dupri’s party. Jermaine Dupri [click to read] invited a who’s who in the industry to his official launch party for his newest venture, TAG Records. An open bar accompanied by a bevy of old school classics spun by DJ Cassidy. Guests included Nas and Kelis (who avoided the red carpet), Jermaine Dupri, Slim Thug, Shaun Merriman of the San Diego Chargers, David Banner [click to read], Ronnie Devoe, Ralph Tresvant and Ricky Bell from Bell Biv Devoe and plenty of others.
But the real theme this year is that 35+ is the new 18. I’m sorry folks but that whole “the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice” motto has to be replaced with “the older the berry the sweeter the juice.” You need one good reason to support this theme? I’ll give you three. Sanaa Lathan, Taraji Henson and Nia Long
And on three, all together now…
And who the hell is this cutie you ask?
Her name is Katerina Graham. Who is she? Well she was a Fanta girl. Yeah…those Fanta soda singing girls. Either way…
Swag bags were handed out filled with TAG products. While the party was great and stocked with a nice open bar, one has to wonder how far this whole TAG label is going to go. Deodorant and Hip Hop? I don’t know…
During the pre-award 106 & Park show that featured the red carpet arrivals, you could see people like Sean Kingston, Big Boi and T-Pain [click to read] milling about. T-Pain was rolling with a bearded lady (at that point we weren’t too sure what the deal was with that) and Soulja Boy [click to read] was getting prepared for the evening. Unfortunately, Soulja Boy wasn’t fielding questions about the Ice-T beef [click to read]. Yung Joc [click to read] kicked off the pre-award festivities with Hotstylez for a performance on “Looking Boy” which proves that real talent can’t get you a deal but a Youtube “joke” can. Big Boi also rocked with Raekwon [click to read] for “Skew In On The Bar B” and “Royal Flush” while more celebs arrived on the carpet. And there would be more proof that older women are crushing their younger counterparts.
It seems that Team New Booty which featured a starting five of Cassie (22), Angel Lola Luv (21), Ciara (22), Rhianna (20) and Lauren London (23) got stomped out by Team Classic and its own lineup of LisaRaye (40), Nia Long (37), Sanaa Lathan (36), Taraji Henson (35) and Claudia Jordan (35).
Hell, even MC Lyte is giving these young gals trouble these days.
Back to the carpet…
The Denver Nuggets’ Kenyon Martin accompanied Trina [click to read] down the carpet. Word is that they are an official couple.
Which do you prefer? Angel Lola Luv from last year?
Or this year?
The "WTF Are You Wearing Award" goes to…
Word? Solid gold dancers. That’s all I envision.
The "WTF Is This Guy Selling Award" goes to..
You tell me…what’s this guy selling. If you said watches, you are a fucking liar.
Just keep it real like this guy. He just wants the girls.
But I digress…
What was interesting is how the day of the show, an email from Konvict recording artist Dolla’s publicist lands in my mailbox.
Atlanta based rap artist Dolla (The Gang Ent./Konvict Muzik/Jive) "Knocks Out" rapper 2 Pistols at the Shrine Auditorium during the Media Day Event at the BET Awards '08. 2 Pistols was immediately rushed to the nearest hospital. The physical altercation occurred on Monday, June 23, 2008 after Dolla heard 2 Pistols making a public statement to the media that Dolla has no street credibility and isn't really a rap artist from the streets. Dolla had no issues to prove he is from the street. With the latest release of his single, "Loud Mouth," off his "Another Day Another Dolla Mixtape," Dolla had no issues calling out loud mouth "rappers types" one in particular being 2 Pistols. Dolla confronted 2 Pistols at the event about his public statements and knocked out the rap artist with a single jab.
A couple of things cross my mind: “Wow” and “Why would you send a press release about something that can get you arrested?” You should all remember my motto – “Stop Snitchin On Yourself” [click to read] Apparently, Dolla didn’t get the message because he posted a clip admitting to TKO'ing poor 2 Pistols [click to read] over some nonsense. The YouTube video was finally taken down after about a day. Sadly, 2 Pistols people have not refuted the claim and word on the street is that he had to be carried to the hospital after eating a knuckle sandwhich. So here’s to you 2 Pistols. Maybe you’ll carry two pistols the next time Dolla comes to your town.
Lil Kim was there. I think that was Lil Kim. You can never tell these days. It looks like the surgery is falling apart. You be the judge.
Oh yes…the awards! How could we forget. Usher [click to read] kicked things off with not really a bang – more like a pop – as he performed “Love In This Club.” Something was missing and everyone in the media room knew it. As he made his decent from the platform, Usher attempted a front flip but seemed to land right on his backside. He would play it off well so many of us were unsure if it was planned or not. Not to mention that he was lip synching. Either way, Usher delivered a relatively lackluster performance. But it wasn’t the worst by far. We can almost hear Ne-Yo [click to read] licking his chops to snatch Usher’s spot on the R&B/Soul throne. That honor would go to Keyshia Cole.
Cole’s performance of “Let It Go” and “Heaven Sent” featured some extremely shaky vocals that garnered a few groans from the backstage area. Lil Kim’s face garnered even more groans when she joined her. Not sure what was wrong with Keyshia this evening but everyone in the back is hoping that things would pick up.
Young Jeezy [click to read] was joined by Kanye West for a profanity riddled performance of “Put On” [click to listen].
We all know Kanye doesn’t care for the media or anyone else but this performance could have been called “F@ck You Censors” for the way the guys in the booth must have been freaking out as 'Yeezy ripped through one verse with multiple four letter words. Might as well have put the TV on mute because the censors did.
Backstage, Usher would field a few questions about fatherhood and marriage. He was openly elated to discuss being a father. Fortunately, nobody really went in and asked about his wife Tameka Foster (aka the 40-year-old non-virgin). It seems as if Usher has been rattled by the rumor mills and constant criticism over her and it has reflected in his interviews and music. You hear that? That’s Ne-Yo licking his chops again. You’ll hear it once more during the night.
As we wait for talent to come backstage and entertain us, the men are pleasantly surprised to see…
Damn. Nia Long looks amazing. All you young girls out there really need to step it up. The R. Kelly complex of old man wants young girl is about to be over. She mentions a few projects she has on the horizon and how much she loves being a mother. She leaves to applause – and I’m sure they were well deserved. Just like I’m sure there were many males in the media room that were thinking this…
Everyone was pretty surprised that Kanye West beat out Lil Wayne for the “Best Hip Hop Artist” Award. But to see Kanye joined by Weezy was classic. But that surprise isn’t the one that got us, it would be Alicia Keys digging into her bag of old school tricks to pull out SWV, En Vogue and Chili and T-Boz of TLC. Alicia really does have an extraordinary way of educating her fans on the good music from the past. Summer Jam was Wu-Tang. AMAs she brought Junior Reid, Beenie Man and Chaka Demus & Pliers. Now this? Have to give credit to Ms. Keys.
Back to the performances and Ne-Yo absolutely killed it with his performance of “Closer.” See, the interesting thing about Ne-Yo is that he’s not the greatest dancer or singer in the world, but he possesses certain intangibles that take him to the next level. His stage show dripped of Michael Jackson influence and an appearance from the Jabbawockeez capped off an incredible performance. You hear that? Yeah…that’s Ne-Yo damn near engulfing Usher in one fell swoop.
The fact that Kobe Bryant, The Dream and Missy Elliott all won awards and didn’t show up was a bit disheartening. Kobe may be in hiding after the Shaq “Kobe, tell me how my ass tastes” diss. But what the hell do Missy and The Dream have better to do than promote themselves? They lost.
WTF moment of the night? The young lady from Baldwin Hills reading out the “dot dot dot” from the teleprompter. Didn’t anyone care to tell the poor young girl that “…” means pause? No? Well now she’s been shamed!
The excitement continued as we finally figured out what T-Pain was doing with that bearded chick. It was for his circus of a performance. To put it simply – it was very interesting. Much like an urban circus, we were all pleasantly surprised by T-Pain’s performance until Rick Ross’ [click to read] belly makes an appearance on the bizarre. I think some of the women threw up in their mouths a little. Word on the street was that Rick Ross and Foxy Brown would disclose their engagement that night. Those rumors were false. But what Ricky Ross did divulge on radio that evening is that Foxy Brown is “his little rider.” Whatever the hell that means. We’re sure it means “friends with benefits.”
We all love Kanye, but after his extra interesting speech and his curse laden performance, we all want to do this to Mr. West.
Somebody (honestly can’t remember who) was backstage speaking to the media when everyone’s attention was snatched by Chris Brown’s performance. The vocals were shaky but the dance moves were solid. We got a little shock when Ciara joined Chris Brown. We figured it would get live but what we didn’t figure is the Ciara straddling of Chris Brown’s pelvic area that got some of the older journalists riled up. All you could here was “uh uh” and the sucking of teeth. Hey, the boy has to become a man sooner or later right?
Backstage, SWV made their way to the podium to discuss their whereabouts for the past few years. “We’ve been home,” Koko said. “We’re married now and have children.” They definitely have aged but still glow with excitement as they answer questions. When asked about giving advice to the newer generation of artists, you could almost sense that the Sisters With Voices have animosity towards the industry politics. “Stay true to yourself, the industry doesn’t love you. Make sure your business is straight. Take care of your business yourself,” said Lelee. “You have to love the music when the radio is not playing you. Radio is not always going to be good to you,” Taj echoed. “Love the music.” So is there a reunion album in the works? As of right now, no. But they are doing spot dates.
En Vogue would follow up next and damn…they still look fly. Most of us used to have a crush on Dawn from En Vogue (© Phife) and when spotted on this evening, we remember why. So will they be putting another album? “No not right now,” Terri Ellis answered. “There’s a few things on the table but we’re just spot dating for now.” Man…that sucks. I wouldn’t mind seeing and hearing them again (Seeing > Hearing).
Bun B [click to read] would come by next with Pimp C’s widow with him. It was touching to watch Bun accept his award for "Video Of The Year" for “International Players Anthem” and Bun would discuss the video to the media. “It was just a beautiful thing that will definitely be one of the days I remember for the rest of my life,” Bun B said when talking about the day the video for "International Players Anthem" was filmed. “We did the entire video in about 18 straight hours. It’s crazy because Andre 3000 and I both had the same idea – the wedding.”
Al Green getting honored was up next and as David Banner approached, he stopped in his tracks and sat with media to check out the tribute. Banner would prove to be one of the more entertaining personalities of the evening. By this time, a pro-Obama theme had settled in for the evening. Who better to ask about the election than David Banner? Banner first had to give his two cents on the Clinton/Bush era. “Hillary Clinton was running on the motto of change,” Banner says. “But if you look at the past twenty years you see George Bush senior, then Bill Clinton, then his son after that. She’s running on change? That’s a lie. It’s been the same.” “If you look even deeper, the Bush and Clinton families run their non-profit organizations together. So they are joined at the hip. I think for the first time in history, we have the opportunity for somebody who is not in the ‘good boy’ network to get into office.” Banner has also always been quite vocal about the media and the community. Banner was one of the most profound voices during the Katrina crisis and was very critical of all media when dealing with the election and the African American community. “The thing I wish America would do from a media perspective as well as a government perspective is tell the story from my side. When I saw the way they were portraying New Orleans, they neglected the fact that people hadn’t gotten support for three or four days and were hungry. They said they were looting but they didn’t tell the whole story,” says David Banner.
Al Green’s tribute was one that had the entire backstage area singing along. Fun times. Maxwell stepping on stage? Priceless. I had heard from a little birdie the day before that Maxwell would be the big surprise. The look on people’s faces said they were pretty shocked. Job well done BET.
Just how did they get Maxwell on stage? BET’s Executive Vice President of Entertainment and Music Programming, Stephen Hill, had all the answers. “We haven’t seen Maxwell perform in five years. So I actually pulled out my Blackberry and wrote the email ‘we’re doing this tribute to Al Green, do you have any interest doing it’ and his response was ‘wowowowow’ and I’m like is that a good thing? He chose this as the first place he’s performed in five years.” Now does this mean we’ll get an album? Al Green admitted that he had a bit of stage fright before he performed. “I’m sorry I didn’t sing as well as I should have because I got scared,” Al Green explained. “Yeah, I was nervous.” He must be kidding right? All those years and he still gets nervous?
To shame men in the media room, Nelly walks in bare-chested to an uproar of women journalists that couldn’t contain themselves. Us dudes, on the other hand, couldn’t contain ourselves to motion for Nelly to put his shirt back on *note to self: increase daily pushup routine by 100*. Someone asked Nelly what he and his girlfriend Ashanti were up to. The funny thing was that Nelly unflinchingly talked about how beautiful she is and about their collaboration. I guess they really are a couple.
Lil Wayne [click to read] would be the one to close out the night. The winner of the "Viewer’s Choice Award" ripped through “Lollipop” and everyone’s favorite song to rap over “A Millie.” I swear to God, one more freestyle over “A Millie” and I may kill myself! T-Pain joined Lil Wayne with a T-Wayne shirt. What’s the deal with that project?
To close out the night, T-Pain revealed the plans. “As far as the album goes, we’re just working on it,” he explained. “We’re good enough friends to start talking about it. We don’t have a definite date and we aren’t trying to set a date. We’re going to work and be the friends we always have been. It’s what it is right now. It’s all about T-Wayne.”
And with that, the awards were over but the festivities had just begun. Many people got it in over at the Roosevelt Hotel for the official BET After Party. I received an email shortly after the party started that Aaron McGruder [click to read] (creator of The Boondocks) was escorted off the property along with Cedric Yarborough [click to read] (the voice of Tom Dubois) simply for showing up. I guess the BET folks were really pissed about those episodes.
We made our way to Loud Records founder Steve Rifkind’s house for the mother of all house parties. Lil Wayne, Diddy, Lil Kim, Angel Lola Luv (who was kicking it with Interscope’s newest act Wale [click to read]), Polow The Don, Big Boi, Crooked I [click to view], LisaRaye, Queen Latifah (who was HOUSING shit on the dance floor), Jermaine Dupri, Gabrielle Union and a plethora of A-List talent doing some big kicking it. An open bar would take the edge off of a long day.
Well there it is. Another year, and another edition of “What You Didn’t See…” Wasn’t the most eventful night in Hip Hop compared to previous award shows but still have to viewed as a success by many. If you really want drama, you may have to wait for the Ozone Awards [click to read].
*Photo Credit: Anthony Springer Jr*