Rick Ross, Young Jeezy and the BET Hip Hop Awards Brawl

Rick Ross, Young Jeezy and the BET Hip Hop Awards Brawl

The Show

Despite the setbacks, the awards ceremony featured several noteworthy performances and tributes. 2 Chainz, T.I., Kendrick Lamar and Rick Ross all had their own sets, but the most memorable moment of the show was a tribute to Chris Lighty. LL Cool J took the stage and gave audience members a touching story on how Lighty helped guide his career and that of other prominent rappers. His speech was followed by performances from 50 Cent, Q-Tip, Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliot and Fat Joe.

T.I. later presented Rakim with the ”I Am Hip Hop Icon” award. Rakim was one of the first rappers to change how rap was delivered by using more complex rhyme schemes. His impact on hip-hop is evident on the pre-taped freestyle sessions that feature rappers performing their best rhymes over a subtle break beat.

The most noticeable absences from the ceremony were nominees Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Drake and Jay-Z.

The State of Hip-Hop

Events such as the BET Hip Hop Awards allow for a better assessment of the state of mainstream hip-hop. It serves as a mirror to what’s occurring with the music and those who create it. You can argue that 2 Chainz’s rhymes are nonsensical and border on buffoonery. But his music can be traced to the strip club anthems created by Luther Campbell that are now viewed as classic club songs.

On the other end of the spectrum, Kendrick Lamar is a lyricist who can carry the torch that was once held by rappers such as Rakim, Nas and Q-Tip.

T.I. remains a strong artist after more than 10 years in the business and several arrests that could’ve derailed his career.

Musically, Rick Ross is a top seller in rap and is proving to have a good ear for artists by signing Wale, Meek Mill and Stalley. However, his fight with Young Jeezy is a setback for a genre that struggles with the history of having a violent reputation. Those outside of hip-hop can further question if millionaire rappers are couth enough to handle their own success.

Music executives must find new ways to cultivate female rappers, producers and DJs, and BET has to do a better job of including them in the show. Strong female voices are essential to the progress of hip-hop.

BET’s honor to hip-hop shouldn’t be taken lightly by those who perform the music. It’s the last and only major awards show that completely focuses on the achievements of rap and presents it to a worldwide audience.

Rappers would be wise to show respect by keeping the foolishness and false gangsta bravado away from the ceremony. It’s also important for rappers who crossover to pop audiences (Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Drake and Nicki Minaj) to contribute to the show in some way, because they all used rap as a stepping stone and benefit from the culture.

Over the next 12 months, new artists will arrive, most who are established will still be around and a few will fade away. Although the ceremony isn’t an absolute scale, the BET Hip Hop Awards gives the nation a glimpse of where hip-hop is and where it will eventually be going.

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