Saturday night (June 23), fans descended to Los Angeles’ Staples Center for the final night of BET Awards week concerts.
While the first night featured an array of old and new school acts, including LL Cool J and Ne-Yo, and the second night featured mostly the new school of R&B, from Ella Mai to Chris Brown. The last night featured hip-hop heavyweights and newcomers. A long list of performers — Kamaiyah, Nipsey Hussle, Rae Sremmurd, Meek Mill, A$AP Ferg, Playboi Carti and Lil Pump — took the stage, turning the crowd up to the latest and greatest in the genre.
Doors opened at 7 p.m., and from roughly 7:30 to 11 p.m. the concert brought several performances and guests to the stage. Below are five highlights from the show:
Kamaiyah Is the Newcomer to Watch
Animation of the rapper displayed above the stage as she emerged with six dancers for a lively and fun set. She led with her cut “Build You Up” before running through songs like “I’m On,” “Freaky Freaks,” “Out the Bottle,” “Fuck It Up” and the YG song she’s featured on, “Why You Always Hatin’.” She dropped a hint of an impending project, saying to the crowd, “Y’all know my album coming, right?” before eventually finishing with her popular “How Does It Feel.” Throughout the performance, her dancers moved in sync and playfully through her lyrics, interacting perfectly with the audience and enhancing the overall show. Kamiayah was dressed in a black and purple jumpsuit with her name across her right leg and had a braided bob and headband, giving just the right amount of ’90s and summertime vibes. The uniqueness of her sound and attention to detail in her performance makes Kamaiyah one artist to keep an eye on.
Nipsey Hussle Is King in Los Angeles
Nipsey Hussle’s latest album, Victory Lap, and recent partnership with Atlantic Records has helped the hometown hero soar to new heights. Already a favorite among a bevy of L.A. rappers, the MC’s star status continues to rise. It was evident upon taking the stage how much love the city has for the rapper with the first round of loud applause of the night. Dressed in a dark-colored sweatsuit, he started off with “Victory Lap” before moving onto “Rap N—-s” from the project. Hussle said to the crowd, “Anybody been fooling with me since the mixtapes?” before launching into old cuts like Crenshaw‘s “All Get Right” and “Checc Me Out” and bringing out Bino Rideaux to do songs off of their 2017 joint project, No Pressure. At one point, he said to the crowd, “When I think about back then I think about right now. It’s only one word that comes to my mind now,” before going into Victory Lap‘s “Dedication.” Before leaving, Hussle performed his latest single, “Last Time that I Checc’d.”
TJ Mizell Is a Young DJ to Watch
When Lil Pump emerged from the stage, a notable face popped up at the DJ booth: TJ Mizell, who is A$AP Ferg’s main DJ. Son of the late Jam Master Jay, Mizell put in work last night DJing both for Lil Pump and Ferg back to back. While Pump’s set was laid back and more mid-tempo, Ferg’s set provided more energy and interaction with the crowd. Star of WeTV’s Growing Up Hip Hop and a burgeoning producer as well, the young DJ has been working with Ferg since 2014 and shows no signs of slowing down. Seamlessly transitioning and running both sets back to back shows Mizell’s potential to continue rising in the game.
A$AP Ferg Is a Performance God
A$AP Mob is not void of talent with Rocky helming the group and others like A$AP Nast showing the collective’s reach, recently modeling in Virgil Abloh’s first Louis Vuitton show as its menswear creative director. A$AP Ferg proved last night with his entertaining and high energy performance that his prowess as not only an MC but artist is alive and well. Emerging from backstage in red leather pants and a white shirt with a button-up draped over, the rap rock star nailed “Trap and a Dream” before going into other songs like “Coach Cartier,” “New Level” and “Nasty (Who Dat).” Ferg said to the crowd, “Let me come party with y’all n—-s” before coming out into the floor and vibing out to classic records from the MC like “Shabba.” The rapper successfully catered to both the left and right sides of the stadium as well, standing on a platform on the left side and going into the lower level on the right side as patrons rushed in to get pictures and videos of the performance. He also played well with going a capella on records to the crowd’s delight and closing out with his biggest single by far, “Plain Jane,” which he declared went double platinum.
Meek Mill Is a Prophet
Meek Mill came on around 10:13 p.m. in a sleek, all black outfit with a varsity jacket and diamond necklaces to accent the fit. After a rousing introduction, the rapper coyly looked at the crowd, clearly happy to be back performing. Starting off with the immensely popular and triumphant “Dreams and Nightmares,” the rapper provided his signature energetic performance, rapping songs like “I’m a Boss,” bringing out Yo Gotti for “Rake it Up” and bringing YG out for his newest, “Big Bank.” 2 Chainz also came onstage to rap his part of in an eclectic, multicolored sweatsuit number. Hyped by the energy of the crowd in his city, YG went on to finish his cameo with “My N—-.” The most heartwarming part of his set, and the night as a whole, were his words and tribute to XXXTentacion, who was tragically killed last week. Mill noted, “That was a good young n—- that lost his life.” He concluded with noting how blacks and Latinos are often a target of law enforcement and the justice system, so it’s important for those in the community to protect and support each other. He said, “Make sure you think about it before you kill somebody that look just like you.” With Mill’s own standing case in his hometown of Philly and recent five-month stint in jail for probation violation that was allegedly mishandled from his judge, the rapper showed he understands the platform he’s standing on and is speaking out more openly and unapologetically on issues.