The last 12 months in hip hop have been a bit of a grind, if you ask me. My tolerance for hotlines blinging, pandas, and antidotes being let out of open windows is pretty much gone – so I was definitely a little less excited about this year’s BET Awards than I usually am. That being said, there were a few truly exceptional surprises, and all in all, I wasn’t completely disappointed. Here’s a brief rundown of what I think about this year’s winners.
Humanitarian Award: Jesse Williams
Jesse delivered a speech that was beyond eloquent and incredibly moving. If nothing else, his award is (to me) the most well deserved win of the year, and if you haven’t yet heard his words about racism and inequality, I highly recommend that you take a few minutes out of the day to do so. The full transcription of the speech is as follows:
“Peace peace. Thank you, Debra. Thank you, BET. Thank you Nate Parker, Harry and Debbie Allen for participating in that. Before we get into it, I just want to say I brought my parents out tonight.
I just want to thank them for teaching me to focus on comprehension over career. They made sure I learned what the school didn’t want to teach me.This award is not for me it is for the organizers around the country. The activists. The civil rights attorneys. The struggling parents, the teachers, the students that are realize that a system built to impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do. It’s basic mathematics. The more we learn about who we are and how we got here, the more we will mobilize.
This is for the Black women in particular who have spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves. We can and will do better for you.What we’ve been doing is looking at the data and we know that police somehow manage to deescalate, disarm and not kill white people every day. So what’s going to happen is we are going to have equal rights and justice in our own country or we will restructure their function in ours.
Yesterday would have been young Tamir Rice’s 14th birthday. So I don’t want to hear any more about how far we’ve come when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on a 12-year-old playing alone in a park in broad daylight, killing him on television and then going home to make a sandwich. Tell Rekia Boyd how it’s so much better to live in 2012 than it is to live in 1612 or 1712. Tell that to Eric Garner. Tell that to Sandra Bland. Tell that to Darrien Hunt.
All of us in here getting money, that alone isn’t going to stop this. Dedicating our lives to get money just to give it right back for someone’s brand on our body when we spent centuries with brands on our bodies and now we pray to get paid for brands on our bodies. There has been no war that we have not fought and died on the front lines of. There has been no job we haven’t done, no tax they haven’t levied against us and we have paid all of them. Freedom is somehow always conditional here. “You’re free,” they keep telling us. “But she would have been alive it she hadn’t acted so … free.” Now freedom is always coming in the hereafter. But you know what, though? The hereafter is a hustle. We want it now.”
And let’s get a couple of things straight—just a little side note. The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander. That’s not our job, all right? Stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you’d better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest in equal rights for Black people then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.
We’ve been floating this country on credit for centuries, and we’re done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us, burying black people out of sight and out of mind while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment, like oil, black gold, ghettoizing and demeaning our creations, then stealing them, gentrifying our genius, and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit. The thing is, though, just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Samuel L. Jackson
The MAN. I mean, Morgan Freeman is pretty badass, too, but Sammy J is my all time favourite actor. Prolific, unique, and a cinematic legend, I was certainly impressed to see the original BAMF receive credit where it is indeed due.
Best Group: Drake and Future
…I definitely wasn’t surprised by this, but I was also very definitively unimpressed. I know you’re gonna jump down my throat and tell me that Drake has bars and the Future is fire; however, I’m going to retort that you’re wrong. These two together aren’t any better – rather, it’s a trainwreck that no amount of promethazine-laced Sprite can (for me) ever make tolerable. Next.
Best Male R&B/Pop Artist: Bryson Tiller
Alright, I can get down with Bryson Tiller. He’s got a nice voice, and sometimes a girl just wants to jive to some slow jams. Well deserved.
Best Female R&B/Pop Artist: Beyoncé
I love Beyonce, no shame. Lemonade was brilliant, and she continues to be one of the very few positive role models for women (and particularly, for women of colour) in mainstream media today. I will always support empowerment and dedication to producing beautiful art.
Best Actor: Michael B. Jordan
Creed was a HELL of a movie, and Michael B. Jordan is a HELL of an actor. He’s also stunning, and was in The Wire, which is one of my all time favourite series. No qualms with this one.
Best Actress: Taraji P. Henson
One of my absolute favorites in Hollywood, everything Taraji touches turns to gold. Are you watching Empire yet? If not, start, and thank me later. Kudos on a well deserved victory.
Best Movie: Straight Outta Compton
….I’m definitely not surprised by this; however, the movie had its faults. Did I think it was worth watching? Absolutely. The cinematography was gorgeous, the acting was on point, Cube’s son is hot. Did I think they were honest and true to life with the script?….ish. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t get as hype about it as the rest of my friends list seemed to. All things considered, I like 8 Mile WAY more; however, I was still happy to see NWA back in the limelight. I’m okay with the win.
Best New Artist: Bryson Tiller
As I stated earlier, I like Tiller. I’m extra happy that it went this way instead of getting shuffled to one of the Lean losers.
Video of the Year: Beyoncé, “Formation”
My favorite video of the year, hands down. I, too like cornbread and collard greens, slay on the daily, and keep hot sauce in my purse. All jokes aside, the track is fire, the lyrics are a truly brilliant rebuttal to societal standards of what a woman of colour “should” be, and the video was stunning. Queen Bey.
Best Male Hip-Hop Artist: Drake
Drake, could you do me a favour and get the f*ck back to Degrassi, where you belong? As a business person, sure – you’re brilliant. As a musician…not so much. Get outta the way before I push you off the 6ix in the wheelchair you rolled in on. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I despise your crappy pop music and crappier ghostwritten “hip hop”. Robbery. You don’t deserve this award and you know it.
Best Female Hip-Hop Artist: Nicki Minaj
Okay, I’m somewhat confused by this one. I loved Minaj a few years ago, when she dropped that Dungeon Dragon track, and even the reggae ones she did with Busta and Gyptian a few years back. Since then, she did some sh*t I really didn’t like (Pills n Potions and such); however, I can’t call to mind a single thing she did in 2016. I feel like she got overshadowed by the Drake/Meek beef, and while I don’t DISAGREE with her getting the award, I’m just a little lost as to why it was bestowed upon her this year. I feel like it’s a little belated, but I’m still down with her on the whole.
Best Collaboration: Rihanna ft. Drake, “Work”
RiRi, you know I love you, but if you’re gonna break out the Patois, could you please stick to Pon de Replay and stay as far as f*cking possible from the 6ix God? He cheapens your image and steals from your credibility as an artist. The ONE saving grace about this track was the hilarious confusion it caused amidst my non-Patois speaking Facebook friends, most of whom tried to claim that RiRi must be high or something, ‘casue she was “speaking gibberish on that fire track with Drake”. Not the worst song of the year, definitely not the best – and I’m only marginally happier that this won out over anything that Desiigner or Future or whoever had anything to do with. Next.
Best Gospel: Kirk Franklin
Voice of an angel, Kirk. Well deserved, and absolutely no qualms.
Youngsters Award: Amandla Stenberg
I hated the Hunger Games (I can’t groove with a novel series that’s a direct copy of a Japanese series which was executed much more successfully); however, Stenberg was the highlight of the films for me. She’s a stunning young lady with serious chops, and I thought the win was well deserved.
Centric Award: Beyoncé, “Formation”
SLAY. I can’t get enough of Formation. Next.
Video Director of the Year: Director X
Okay, so I was also unsurprised here – I mean, he directed Hotline Bling and Work – but he also directed King Kunta, and he’s Canadian. Definitely a talented fellow, and a well deserved win; however, he’s a far cry from Hype Williams. Next.
Dr. Bobby Jones Gospel Inspirational Award: Kirk Franklin
Again, well deserved and in my opinion, no contest.
Coca-Cola Viewers’ Choice Award: Beyoncé, “Formation”
At least the public got one thing right this year, and didn’t hand this off to Desiigner. SLAY!
Sportsman of the Year: Stephen Curry
…I’m a hip hop writer, not a sports writer. To that effect, I’m gonna keep my opinion to myself on this one. I mean, congrats, but you weren’t my pick. Next.
Sportswoman of the Year: Serena Williams
I haven’t watched tennis in a hot minute, but the Williams sisters have always been favourites of mine. That said, I beg the same question as I did of Nicki Minaj – is this not perhaps a slightly anachronistic award win?
What did you think of this years BET awards winners? Leave a comment below!