When it was announced that Samuel L. Jackson would be hosting the 2012 BET awards, the question was not whether the veteran actor was qualified to host the show but whether he had the charisma and comedic timing to match what Kevin Hart brought as last year’s host. BET flooded the airwaves with a two-hour preshow, a three and a half hour awards show, and a post-show event that lasted an hour to show feedback from the winners and attendees.
LOVE IT: The show opened with an incredible performance from the GOOD Music roster that included Kanye West, 2 Chainz, Big Sean, and Pusha T performing “Mercy,” the biggest rap song in the country. The set ended with an amazing freestyle from Kanye West that may have people rethinking their lineup of the greatest rappers alive. As the rap began Kanye said, “Now hold up, I aint trying to stunt man/But these Yeezy’s jumped over the Jumpman/Went from most hated to the God flow/I guess that’s a feelin only me and LeBron know.” It also included a shout-out to Damon Dash for signing him to his first recording contract with Roc-A-Fella Records. As Kanye received an award later in the show, Jay-Z interrupted his speech to spoof the Taylor Swift incident that put Kanye in hot water years ago at the MTV Awards. It was timeless.
Kim Kardashian was Kanye’s date for the night. As the camera continued to show them together in the front row next to Beyonce and Jay-Z you quickly realized that the Kardashian brand now encompassed BET. She didn’t say a word but her presence was a defining moment for the network and it will be reflected in the press the show will receive in the coming days.
During a dedication to Whitney Houston her mother Cissy put on an incredibly emotional performance. Chaka Khan looked absolutely amazing as she stole the show with “I’m Every Woman” that really should have closed the show.
There were many brief moments that also stole the show. The return of D-Angelo was great for music and with his body and flow back to normal we can expect that real R&B music will make a comeback. Valerie Simpson sang a beautiful version of “Aint Nothing Like the Real Thing” in memory of Ashford Simpson who died last August. BET also honored radio and TV personalities that were lost in the last year including Hal Jackson, Don Cornelius, and Dick Clark. The network did what BET is supposed to do: uplift and educate. Jamie Foxx didn’t say much but his Trayvon Martin t-shirt said a lot about his stance on the fatal shooting and the message of support that he wanted to send to the viewers.
In between commercials, there was an ongoing skit of “The Real Husbands of Hollywood” that featured Sam Jackson, Kevin Hart, Fabolous, Anthony Anderson and Faizon Love. The scenes were hilarious and Sam Jackson was in his zone as an elite actor.
HATE IT: Many of the live performances from rappers like Nicki Minaj and Kanye West were hard to hear because of the editing that BET did to try to cover up the cursing. The blank spaces of air were annoying and made certain aspects of the show difficult to enjoy.
In his opening, Sam Jackson brought out Spike Lee to do a rendition of “N*ggas In Paris” but their “Negroes in Paris” was off beat and they fumbled their words. Seeing two old men out of their element trying to play rappers was quite difficult to watch.
Chris Brown performed two songs from his upcoming album and while his choreography was great the house and pop tracks show that he is taking his music in a different direction. But someone should have advised him to make his performance at BET more urban and soulful because it was disappointing overall especially since his performance was announced numerous times throughout the show. We expected more.
During the Whitney Houston tribute, Brandy performed “I’m Your Baby Tonight” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” but it was evident that she was lip-synching over a recording of her voice. If you are going to pay tribute to a legend you have to do with the professionalism and preparation that a legend would.
Tyga from Young Money was the show’s last performance and even though the rookie showed good poise it shouldn’t have been the lasting impression on the audience. Chaka, D’Angelo, or Usher could have been better options.