When your weekend starts with a Beyonce concert and ends with witnessing the new order of hip hop stars performing the hottest tracks around right now, you know you can count this as one for the books. So it was for the first ever BET Experience – a weekend of events, concerts, encounters and pinch-me moments that happened over the past couple of days.
Let’s start with Queen Bey shall we? As if there was any more reason needed to crown her music royalty, Beyonce is doing the convincing through her Mrs Carter World Tour, which kicked off its North American leg at the Staples Center as part of the BET Experience. Even if you’re not the kind of fan that will make your own t-shirt to wear proudly to the show (props to those who did, there were some stunning ones there), Beyonce puts on one helluva show. When she spoke in between songs her voice sounded a little hoarse, as if she were suffering from a cold, but it didn’t seem to affect her performance. I wondered for a moment if she was perhaps lip-synching yet there came a point during Halo, where a fan in the front row wanted to grab the mic from her, and she said as much, in place of singing the next line of the song. Her dancing, her stage set, her flying from stage to a podium at the back of the arena, head-to-toe in a Bey-dazzled purple bodysuit – it was all just fabulous.
Saturday night’s quadruple-threat of a line-up brought Miguel, J Cole, Kendrick Lamar and Snoop Dogg/Lion (who knows what it is these days, I really can’t keep up) to the Staples Center. The energy in the arena just kept building with each performance, culminating in Snoop’s guest-filled set, which brought out Dr Dre, among other illustrious rappers.
The BET Awards show on Sunday seemed to feed off the weekend’s excellent performances because every act seemed to be slick and . There were so many highlights, but the show started right from the moment Don Cheadle, before announcing the first award of the night, sent out a message of prayer for Nelson Mandela’s wellbeing, which was echoed again during an island-themed medley of reggae/ragga hits by Elephant Man, Beenie Man and co. The acknowledgement comes as the former president spends his third week in hospital. In between, the show was slick, fast-paced and packed with high-energy hit after hit. From Ciara recreating a Body Party on stage, to Erykah Badu joining King Kendrick Lamar (Best New Artist and Best Male Hip Hop Artist) for some non-vibe killing. Even R.Kelly made me excited for his post-awards show, with his medley, sung along enthusiastically by the audience members (many of whom were even more fun to watch than the actual artists on stage!) The Charlie Wilson tribute was incredible – Uncle Charlie, Justin Timberlake and Pharrell can take a bow.
And even though neither South African Toya Delazy nor Donald took home Best International Act, Africa, the two rising stars are headed in the right direction. Congrats to Nigeria’s Ice Prince for taking home the bling.
BET Awards ’13 – Winners
Best International Act: Africa: Ice Prince (Nigeria)
Best Female R&B/Pop Artist: Rihanna
Best Male R&B/Pop Artist: Miguel
Best Group: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Best Collaboration: A$AP Rocky f/ Drake, 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar – Problems
Best Male Hip Hop Artist: Kendrick Lamar
Best Female Hip Hop Artist: Nicki Minaj
Best International Act – UK: Emeli Sandé
Video of the Year: Drake – Started From The Bottom
Video Director of the Year: Benny Boom
Best New Artist: Kendrick Lamar
Best Gospel Artist: Mary Mary
Best Actress: Kerry Washington
Best Actor: Jamie Foxx
YoungStars Award: Gabrielle Douglas
Best Movie: Think Like A Man
Viewers’ Choice Award: Drake – Started From The Bottom
Centric Award: Tamar Braxton – Love and War
Lifetime Achievement Awards – Charlie Wilson
Humanitarian Award – Dwyane Wade
Sportswoman of the Year: Gabrielle Douglas
Sportsman of the Year: LeBron James
South African fans, you can check out the highlights I’m talking about when the ceremony airs on BET (Channel 190, Top TV) on Tuesday July 2.