The BET Hip Hop Awards, which aired last night on – you guessed it – BET, is not your average awards show. First, it’s not a live. The awards were filmed in Atlanta on September 28th and the full list of winners were announced in advance of the broadcast. Second, it’s really not about the winners’ reveal, it’s all about the performances and the cyphers.
Last night’s broadcast was a tightly packed two hours with a few standouts and one notable winner overall. Drake and Kendrick Lamar took home the most awards, but it was K.dot who left the most lasting impression. Let’s take a look at some of the BET Hip Hop Awards’ bests:
Best host: Uncle Snoop. Look, I love Amy Poehler and Tina Fey on the Golden Globes too, but I would be down for Snoop hosting every single other thing. From declaring at least 73 current and up-and-coming rappers his “nephews” to palling around with Kevin Hart and James Lipton, the guy is just fun to watch. He was in command of the night.
Snoop doesn’t have to act cool, he just is that cool, so watching him do a fake news show sketch isn’t embarrassing, it’s entertaining. He’s your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper, a West Coast influence with worldwide appeal. And he was really funny!
Best joke: Uncle Snoop going on the equivalent of a “You Might Be A Redneck” joke chain about Kendrick Lamar’s “Control”: “If your last album was actually an album, Kendrick wasn’t talking about you. If you had to ask your supervisor if you could take a lunch break so you could do a ‘Control’ verse, then Kendrick wasn’t talking about your a** either.”
Best sketch: I could have listened to James Lipton say different variations of Snoop Dog’s name for the full two hours, but a two-minute opening clip was gift enough. Lipton went all in, interviewing Snoop on his days as a thespian: “You took the lives of hundreds in your hands as your hurtled through the night sky in a capsule filled with ratchet wonder. Of course I’m speaking of your role as an able-bodied pilot in the classic, Soul Plane.”
Best Fashion Statement: Rick Ross looking absolutely luminous in a crushed velvet sweatsuit. (Meme alert!)
Best (worst) product placement: Of the 20 awards given, only four presentations were actually on the televised broadcast, all ridiculously named for their sponsors: the Reese’s Perfect Combo award (winner: “Problems,” A$AP Rocky); the Who Knew? Rookie of the Year award powered by Monster (winner: ASAP Ferg); and People’s Champ Award presented by Verizon (winner: Drake).
Really roll off the tongue, don’t they? But the best sponsor had to be Sprite, who not only got to sponsor the best award – “I AM Hip Hop” – but also got a closeup every time the camera went to DJ Premier at the turntables during the cyphers. So, a lot.
Best Winner: MC Lyte was a dream. Eve presented her with her with the “I AM Hip Hop” award, remembering how she burst onto the hip-hop scene, “telling fully painted stories with the intricate rhymes.” After video shout outs from Will and Jada Smith, Missy Elliot and Queen Latifah, MC Lyte came onstage to accept her award. Her acceptance speech seemed chopped up in editing, which is too bad, because the gems we did get were delightful. Lyte told men to stop cursing out women, ladies to act like queens and be treated like queens and ended on this note: “I AM HIP HOP, WILL ALWAYS BE HIP HOP, GOD BLESS, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.” Exit stage right, done.
Best Cypher: T.D.E., if for Kendrick Lamar’s verse alone (but SchoolBoy Q and Isaiah Rashad gave something to get excited about too). There’s not a lot more to say that Kendrick didn’t say himself. It was a master class in taking broad strokes to make a point:
“And nothing’s been the same since they dropped ‘Control’/And tucked a sensitive rapper back in his pajama clothes/Ha, ha, joke’s on you/High five/I’m bulletproof”
Honorable mention: Slaughterhouse might not have had a single knockout verse like T.D.E. but that wordplay, oh that wordplay. Their lyricism was the most fun to watch.
A few more, OK?: WAX, Emis Killa, Rapsody, A$AP Rocky, Action Bronson, Starlife Breezy.
Best Funny Cypher: Not normally a category that would be necessary, but The Real Husbands of Hollywood crew kind of killed it in their own unique way. From Nick Cannon ripping on Kevin Hart, to Chocolate Droppa himself bouncing all over the place, to Boris Kodjoe rapping in German – I’d watch it every week.
Best old & new performance: Mannie Fresh and Juvenile joining 2 Chainz on stage for “Go DJ,” “Used2″ and “Back That Azz Up.” Always a welcome addition.
Best audience reaction: Kendrick Lamar gamely watching Diddy don a crown during French Montana’s “Ain’t Worried About Nothin’ (Remix)” performance. He doesn’t seem to worried about the “King of New York” title.
Best performance: The best moment altogether had to be seeing Bone Thugs-N-Harmony together in 2013 singing “Thuggish Ruggish Bone,” “1st of tha Month,” and “Crossroads” (featuring Claudette Ortiz). The audience was on their feet, I was on my feet. It was the best way to close an awards show that hardly gave any awards, but certainly rewarded hip-hop’s current and rising stars.