Sunday, June 28, 2015

Recap: BET Awards 2015 -- The Tributes, Reunions and Surprises!

The 2015 BET Awards opened with a stirring performance by Kendrick Lamar whose rhymes reflected the state of Blacks in the United States. The audience (fellow artists, actors, reality stars and the like) were indeed moved and gave him a great reception. 

Hosts Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross greeted the audience with their awkward yet funny version of Estelle's "Conquerer" made famous from Empire.  Coming back from commercial we peeped an awkward glimpse of Rihanna sitting it the audience with a roll of duct tape in her lap, still no clue as to why! A performance by Janelle Monae hyped the crowd with her new single "Yoga", showcasing her dancing and great performance skills. Included in the performance was newcomer Jedenna with his first major award show performance of "Classic Man".

Nicki Minaj won for the consecutive time for Best Female Rapper, bribing her mom on stage, who by the way was just as stunning as she shouted out all the nominees with personal highlight given to Dej Loaf, reiterating she would be joining her on the Pinkprint tour.

BET series "The Game" made a big announcement that Derwin and Melanie, played by Pooch Hall and Tia Mowry would be officially coming back for the series finale on August 5, 2015, much to the excitement of fans.

Chris Brown and Tyga also performed a medley of current hits. I was a bit thrown off by Chris' overdubbing and lip syncing which for me throws off the overall package of the performance. Either sing or lip synch and be done with it. Of course the dancing was on point and all the female audience members were happy.  Though introduced first, Tyga was really nothing more than a bonfire hype man. Another awkward moment was the inclusion of Omarion but no Jhene Aiko for "Post to Be". Even weirder the cameraman panning to Rihanna singing along to Jhene's voice in the audience.

A special highlight was the Music Matters feature of new artist Avery Wilson, popular on Vine and other social media platforms for his covers and he's also a former American Idol contestant by he didn't advance far in the competition. He's now being mentored by music legend Clive Davis.

The running gag with Rihanna continued as she hilariously bound and gagged Floyd Mayweather Jr. as he sat next to transgenders B. Scott and Laverne Cox. The Weekend performed... And that's all I have to mention. Total snooze fest -- even the special guest feature of Alicia Keys did nothing for me. Sadly the highly awarded singer did not rise to the occasion and her vocal prowess needs coaching.

I was excited for the 20 year Bad Boy Entertainment anniversary performance. Daddy definitely still has it! He stays in his lane and just does classic Puff. Though we saw features from Mase, 112, the Lox, French Montana, Lil Kim and Pharreal the clear star and stand out performer is STILL Diddy, who doesn't miss a step, but maybe a line here and there which was hilariously shades by Brandy mouthing "sing yo line Puff!" from the audience.

Speaking of dancing newcomer Silento had an impromptu performance of his popular song "Watch Me" with hosts Anthony and Tracee performing with their TV children from the show Blackish.

The true highlight of the show was the Smokey Robinson tribute. With a stirring outage of his history relayed by Berry Gordy, Aretha Franklin, Janelle Monae and John Legend. Performances included newcomer Tori Kelly soulful performance of Whose Loving You", Robin Thicke's vocalist mirroring of "Oooh Baby Baby" oh so smoothly and Neyo's modern take on "Tears of a Clown".  As far as the 75 year old legend, who has been in the industry for over 60 years still looks springy and a mere 50 years old. He recanted his graciousness for his many blessing and triumphs so humbly and beautifully in his acceptance speech/prayer. The key moment was his admonition to all entertainers to be grateful for their accomplishments and to stop being haughty and full of themselves, which garnered a standing ovation. The best part though had to be the legend himself crooning his hits "Tracks of My Tears", "Crusin" & "My Girl" just as clearly and full as the original recordings.

On with the show Meek Mill lit up the stage with Nicki Minaj and Chris Brown for their new single "All Eyes on You". The musical stars of Empire -- Yazz, Jussie Smollet and Soraya had a great medley of their soundtrack hits with a cameo from Juicy J. 

As far as this years tributes -- one of the sheer highlights for me was Anthony Hamilton's rendition of "The Thrill is Gone" in tribute to the late B. B. King. This years Humanitarian award went to Tom Joyner for he and his foundations philanthropic work to raise money and awareness for HBCU's and its students. The Janet tribute was... cute. I understand Janet is a dance legend but no attempts at singing her songs was pointless to me. Tinashe has come along way, she did her best. Jason Derulo definitely has the skills and Ciara did her best Janet interpretation down to the Jackson leg bounce.

I was impressed to see long time rivals K. Michelle and Tamar Braxton sing out their current singles "Hard to Do" & "If I Don't Have You" and publicly apologize and forgive each other. Special highlight was them coming together to sing with the legendary Patti LaBelle on "If Only You Knew" and later embraced and walked off stage together smiling and chatting.  I'm so proud!

We finally found out what the Rihanna teases were for as she treated us to a trailer for her music video BBHMM (Bitch Betta Have My Money) were she apparently kidnaps someone as the video faded away.

We also saw a brief performance by Best New Artist nominee Fetty Wap in the final stretch of the show. The show ended rather anticlimactically with a brief commercial interlude a 45 second goodbye by Anthony and Tracee.  All in all, the 4 hour award show had its ups and downs, but it was definitely entertaining!

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