It’s been a while, and while I’ve got a few posts queued up for you… I’ve also been working through a nasty season of Writer’s-Block-Prompted-By-Life-Blocks.
Suffice it to say… this month sucked.
Now, there were some bright spots – my 10 year high school reunion, being one of them. However, all in all, it’s been a rough one. I encountered the thoughts that SO many writers, bloggers, and freelancers do: Do I have the strength, the time, the resources to keep on blogging? Should I be writing more for this platform? Less? Have I gotten away from my original mission? Closer? Am I coasting? WHATISIMDAWN?! Typically, when I get there, I remind myself that “I’ve got the juice” and free-write until I’m clear on my thesis. This time it just didn’t seem to work…
Until I saw the BET Awards.
Ya’ll know that in the midst of these essays, I LOVE a good recap! (Click here to see my recap from The Wiz Live). I love reading them. I love writing them. And let’s be honest… since I basically wrote one from the couch as I was watching the BET Awards yesterday… I figured I’d share here. So, let’s get into it.
Overall, I enjoyed the show. I really did! I watched it with my petty singer friends and our only sort of bougie snacks (think wine and cheese puffs). I mostly watched it because I wanted to see how they would honor our ancestor, Prince. So, I won’t go into detail about each performance or each facet of the show.
But before I get too ahead of myself, let’s get into the opening.
The opening. The friggin’ opening.
Beyonce said, “I’m going to stand here in this wade-in-the-water realness and sing my song. And when Brother Kendrick gets up here, we are giving you the Freedom Frolic you never knew you needed”.
Was I the only one near tears?!?! I think not. Trust me, I WILL be frolicking in my shower tomorrow morning… ya’ll pray my safety.
After that, there were brief blurs of bad writing (those jokes… mercy), folks obviously reading from teleprompter, and cuts to MC Lyte with her stage manager binder.
I did appreciate the Philly hometown love in the opening Prince tribute set featuring The Roots and Bilal! Ya’ll will stop making fun of Bilal’s sew-in prep cornrows (Black Twitter has had me cackling about that all day)… because he sang the SNOT out of that song! Are. you. kidding. me?! Ya’ll thought he wasn’t going to commit to rolling around on the ground in honor of Prince? Well, his pre-emptive hip thrusts and choice of kitten heels at should have warned you that he was going all. in.
What goes up, must come down. And the vibe took a significant dip when A. Keys got onstage…
I held my breath as she found the note. I visibly cringed when she pushed over the synthesizer after the ending ‘hit’. I later found out from prolific bassist, Justin Raines, that the synthesizer was not just any old synth… it was a $4k Moog synthesizer. My final sentiments below:
It may seem like I was a bit harsh on this (but I’m still bumpin ‘Diary’ though, so I feel like I’m good). Between A Keys, Desiigner, and Usher, I left feeling strangely encouraged!
Here’s the thing… I’m not willing to say that I haven’t danced to Panda a time or two or ten. However… my statement still stands. We don’t really know what Desiigner is saying, yet he has a rap career. Be encouraged! You can follow your dreams too! (Also, if you haven’t seen the memes done for Desiigner by the genius that is Black Twitter and IG, you NEED this cackle)
Let me pause here and say, I LOVE Usher. His runs are CLEAN every time, and have you heard his collabs? He will outsing an artist on their own song 80% of the time! The strobe lights were just a lot for me on this go round (doesn’t mean I don’t still love Usher)!
There were a lot of highlights from the show, so I want to get into those. Let’s break down these tributes first and go from there.
- Maxwell – *bows head, “Lord, I thank You for Maxwell. I thank You that he consistently is on the note. I thank You for his swag. I want to cry out against him because he’s had us waiting on his new album since I was but a fertilized egg in the eyes of the Universe… but seeing as how he continues to do great live performances, I’m just going to take this time to say, ‘Thank You”… and thank you, Maxwell.
- Jennifer Hudson’s Purple Rain – So, here’s the thing. I know a great deal of folk that absolutely loved the rendition! Jennifer Hudson is definitely a powerhouse. However, I was desperately hoping that there might be a mic toss to Fantasia as well. Deep down, my soul was crying out for Fantasia. Did you see her face as the camera cut to her? She was in deep worship, and I needed their energies to meet on that stage!
- Janelle Monae – YAHS LAWD! Listen… I can’t even! The stamina! The RANGE! The hair! The attention that she’s so very clearly paid to Prince’s music and career trajectory. Janelle Monae is amazing to me. The end. (Also, the outfit cheek cut outs kind of cracked me up because it was lowkey churchy. Is anyone going to talk about how the cut outs had a sheer panel over them because #modesty? And before you think I’m clowning, know that I’m not because I’m lowkey churchy too and would have done the same. exact. thing. It would have sounded like this: “Oh, you want cheek cut outs?! For Prince?!?! Oh absolutely! Bet… please tell the Mother’s Board of Mt. Sinai Baptist to sew in my sheer modesty cloth across them. Kthanxbye!” I. love. Janelle! *For my real thoughts on the subjective shenanigan that is modest dress, click here after you’ve finished the recap)
- Sheila E THE QUEEN!
Sheila E came out with that band and the games IMMEDIATELY ceased. She came out there with her shoes off, her hair out, her sticks in her hand, ready. to. slay. Sheila E came out and brought Jerome from The Time, and Prince’s ex wife Mayte with the hip shaking realness. Sheila E came out and told us to GET IT DAGGEVA FOR ANCESTOR PRINCE. The background singers were amazing. The band was doing their GOOD playing. And life was given. THAT is how you do a tribute, and I’m just here to take notes.
- Jesse “Teach the Word” Williams
I know that this wasn’t a Prince tribute, but it was definitely one of the show’s highlights. So, I’m putting it here. First of all, I want you to see the look on his face BEFORE he gets up. This is the face of someone that has a word just simmering on the inside:
A recap of what he said honestly would not do his speech justice. The only quote that I shared on social media were these bars, “Gentrifying our genius” (because #barz), and “Just because we’re magic… doesn’t mean we’re not real”. The reason that I only quoted those pieces was because I was still in deep awe and appreciation for the way that he OPENLY acknowledged Black women. Ya’ll don’t understand… I legit stood up in the living room! Please, PLEASE do yourself a favor and get into his commentary on race, racism, capitalism (you could almost hear the edges being snatched when he got into this piece), movement building, and more!
A Final Note:
I want to share this final cackle with you because I know you’ll appreciate it. This is not a show highlight, nor is it commentary on any given performance. I just need ya’ll to understand that one of my petty friends said that Jermaine Dupri and Fat Joe were in prime “Auntie at a wedding” fashions. And I. almost. fell. over.
(P.S. Who was responsible for the choice to have geishas with swords in the background though….? I’m crying out against that because like… really? *Rolls eyes and tries not to write 1k more words in the key of think piece about cultural appropriation and turning culture into caricature. *Logs out)
What were your favorite parts of the show? What was your least favorite part of the show? Leave them in the comments below!