On Saturday afternoon (Sept 28), the BET Hip-Hop Awards commenced at Atlanta’s Civic Center for another year of cyphers, performances and fashion faux pas. The energy could be felt from the red carpet as stars like Meek Mill, 2 Chainz, this year’s host Snoop Dogg and more made their entry into the venue.
Once inside, things kicked off fairly quickly; The lights dimmed and the screens flashed as video came up of James Lipton, host of “Inside the Actors Studio,” earnestly asking Snoop Dogg, “With so much drama in the LBC, how hard is it being Snoop D. O. Double G.?” An unexpected sight, complete with profanity and those hilarious facial expressions Lipton is known for, the awards started off on a good note.
Then came Snoop’s monologue. The Long Beach native is witty in his own weed smoke-induced way and those familiar with his interviews and the like, know this. Why have Snoop Dogg onstage stiffly telling written jokes? He made a joke about sending some gummi bears to Gucci Mane in the jailhouse — that one landed with a thud that echoed throughout the entire venue. As a host, there were a few flubs, but in his way, the Doggfather never seemed to acknowledge them.
The skits that they incorporated into the show portrayed Snoop at his best: Snoop at a card table with Daz, Snoop as a DJ, Snoop as a commentator with Kevin Hart’s hilarious alter-ego Chocolate Drop, who as always, had the crowd in tears. This year, Chocolate Drop and the rest of the “Real House Husbands” cast had their own cypher where Nick Cannon and Nelly reminded viewers that — primarily — they really do rap.
The tradition of introducing new emcees through cyphers to the mainstream audience continued this year. Action Bronson, Rapsody, Astro and Asia Sparks are only a few newbies that had a chance to touch the Sprite sponsored mic. Flint’s Jon Connor cleverly made reference to his newly-inked record deal with Aftermath Entertainment. As a crew, Slaughterhouse did what they’re expected to which is collectively kill freestyle sessions.
Kendrick Lamar had the best verse of all the cyphers. Hip-hop heads saw “Control” Kendrick reappear — his energy built on itself with every bar, his flow switched up, he made reference to his competition’s response to the verse that started the controversy. Kendrick even breaks one of the bars to give ScHoolboy Q a high-five as the crowd hollered and cheered. King Kendrick, indeed.
Aside from the cyphers, ScHoolboy Q delivered with his recent cut, “Collard Greens,” after being introduced as one of “three artists bringing soul to hip-hop” by Uncle Snoop. His performance was followed up by Kendrick Lamar and J Rock with “Money Trees.” French Montana touched the stage a little later to perform the remix to “Ain’t Worried ‘Bout Nothin'” with Rick Ross and Diddy — who, in true Diddy fashion, had a minion bring his gold crown out on a red cushion.
2 Chainz’s performance seemed to be the most creative. Remember last year when he hopped out of a coffin to rap beside a gospel choir? He continued this thread of ingenuity on Saturday by appearing on a split set to perform “Fork.” As the song starts with him arguing back and forth with his mother, he’s in his bedroom on one side and a woman donning a housecoat and haphazardly placed sponge rollers is in the kitchen on the other side. He quickly moves from this to run off stage and change outfits.
“Go DJ” starts blasting from the overhead and Mannie Fresh saunters out onstage with unbridled confidence. 2 Chainz reappears with five dancers, kicking off the first verse to “Used 2.” 2 Chainz left the dance moves to them this year — which was disappointing. Everyone knows the best part of a 2 Chainz performance is watching him dance erratically, but he made up for the lack of dancing on his part by having Juvenile come out for a quick set. Juvie performed “Back That Ass Up,” paying homage to the flow that inspired the “Used 2” track.
The BET Hip-Hop Awards this year was heavy on hip-hop, but light on actual awards. BET presented only three awards during the show; none of which the winners weren’t in attendance to accept. A$AP Rocky took an award for the Perfect Combo category for “Fuckin’ Problems” which Kendrick Lamar and 2 Chainz accepted in his absence. Drake won the People’s Champ category for “Started From the Bottom,” but the rapper was nowhere to be found. A$AP Ferg took the Rookie award over Joey BadA$$, Action Bronson and others, but he wasn’t there to accept either.
The night’s I Am Hip-Hop Award went to Brooklyn-born trailblazer MC Lyte, who was ultimately calm and collected as she accepted her award. The montage that played beforehand featured Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith speaking on just how big of an imprint Lyte made on them upon her debut and long after. With Eve presenting the award, the emcee/DJ ascended the stage, graciously accepting and speaking on her newest venture, the Hip-Hop Sisters Foundation. She ended her speech with some thought-provoking words: “It has to be about something more than oneself.”
On an evening filled with performances, from newcomers like Rich Homie Quan — who just last year was passing his CDs out at the awards — and vets like Yo Gotti, the awards were capped off with a special treat from Cleveland pioneers, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. As their logo blazed on a screen behind them, the quartet ripped through their longstanding hits to include “Thuggish Ruggish Bone,” “1st of the Month” and “Crossroads.”
The 2013 Hip-Hop Awards, packed with performances, airs Tuesday, October 15 at 8pm EST.