MSRP: $16.99
RATED: Not rated
RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes
T.I. rehearsal footage

The Pitch

Yo, a party ain’t a party ’till it’s ran all through. And leave it to my crew, it’s gon’ be playa’ proof. After three rounds we gon’ blow off this roof. A party ain’t a party ’til it’s ran all through.

The Humans

Katt Williams, Nelly, Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Common, Soulja Boy, Playaz Circle, Hurricane Chris, Lil Boosie, Ludacris, Busta Rhymes, Alfamega, Wyclef Jean, Twista, Lil’ Mama, Dizzee Rascal, Phonte, Stat Quo, Kardinal Offishall, Ras Kass, Joell Ortiz, Flo & Cassidy, Kanye West, Common, etc.

The Nutshell

BET presents its second annual Hip Hop Awards Show. Pimp cups, bling, baggy clothes, dope lyrics, posses, shawties and Black folk in general abound.

“First of all, I’d like to thank Prince’s wardrobe people and Pauly Shore’s hair dresser for their contributions…”

The Lowdown

Let’s get something out of the way from the get-go. There are too many awards shows. Way too many. Performers who don’t win something at one award show can be content that they can roll right into the next one, which is probably just down the street on the same night and pick up something else. Of course the granddaddy of all music awards shows – the Grammys – have more categories than anyone can keep up with. Hell, they even had to spin off the Latin Grammys just to get some breathing room. And it seems like they give out more awards before the show than during the show itself. And getting into the length of some of these awards shows is beating a horse skeleton, so leave us not even go there.  

“I’d most of all like to thank the people who were smart enough to agree with me that I deserved this…”

Adding to all that, Black music awards shows have a stigma about them that none of the others seem to: tape delay. Not a seven second delay, but a tape delay.The show is recorded one night, run through a gauntlet of sensors and aired at a later date, sometimes even weeks, after they actually occurred. Shootings stabbings and / or fights at prior awards shows like the Source Awards or the Vibe Awards don’t help. So BET, which already has the BET Awards, established in 2001, decide to spin themselves off into the BET Hip Hop Awards.

How Rich Boy got Rookie of the Year over DJ SWAT Team I’ll never know…

Now don’t get me wrong. Soul, Hip Hop and R&B are my music genres of choice. So the chance to see the big guns of the genre perform live, if even on TV, is always welcome. But honestly, if you already have the BET Awards, why do you need a Hip Hop Awards sub-show? And if so, why not the BET Soul / R&B Awards Show also? Not to be confused with the Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards (why the ladies get their own awards and the Brothers don’t is a separate issue, but would inevitably mean yet another awards show). If this is going to be the trend, then I demand an MTV Video Music Awards Show for Emo Tween Bands With Androgynous Lead Singers Trying To Sound Like Eddie Vedder.

Strange, that a Haitian can make me feel more patriotic than my own president…

If we’re going to allow all these spin off awards shows to stand, then they should at least follow the formula that the BET Hip Hop Awards have established: short run time, original categories, kick-ass performances, and a couple of interesting asides that don’t stray into the ridiculous like the Oscars‘ ill-conceived interpretive dance numbers set to sound editing, set design or whatever the hell Savion Glover was trying to represent that one year (don’t get me wrong, the brother can tap the shit out of anything, but come on). Here’s a list of the awards presented (courtesy of Wikipedia):

Cue Michael Jackson Pepsi commercial hair tragedy flashback in 3…2…1…

Lyricist of the Year: Common
Video Director of the Year: Hype Williams
Track of the Year: Shop Boyz – “Party Like a Rockstar”
CD of the Year: Common – “Finding Forever” and T.I. – “T.I. vs. T.I.P.”
Best Foreign Hip-Hop Act: Kano
Best Live Performance: Kanye West
Best Ringtone: T.I. – “Big Things Poppin’ (Do It)”
Alltel Wireless People’s Champ Award: Birdman & Lil Wayne – “Stuntin’ Like My Daddy”
Best Video: Kanye West – “Stronger”
Best Dance: Soulja Boy – “Crank That (Soulja Boy)”
Best Collaboration: UGK and OutKast – “International Player’s Anthem (I Choose You)”
Best Track: Shop Boyz – “Party Like a Rockstar”
Producer of the Year: Timbaland
Hustler of the Year: 50 Cent
Rookie of the Year: Rich Boy
DJ of the Year: DJ Khaled
MVP of the Year: Lil Wayne
Best Movie: Stomp The Yard
I Am Hip Hop (Lifetime Achievement): KRS-One

Now some of these are pretty standard fare, but some of them like Best Live Performance, Best Ringtone, Hustler of the Year and DJ of the Year address some of the unique categories that feed into this genre. Of the above winners, I was happy to see Common getting a couple of nods. I’ve recently really discovered his music and am looking forward to seeing him break out after his recent album, Finding Forever.

“This is street ra-dio, for unsung heroes
Ridin in they regal, tryin to stay legal
My daughter found Nemo, I found the new primo
Yeah you know how we do, we do it for the people
And the struggles of the brothas and the folks
With lovers under dope, experiment to discover hopes
Scuffle for notes, the rougher I wrote, times were harder
Went from rocky starter to a voice of a martyr
Why white folks focus on dogs and yoga
While people on the low end tryin to ball and get over
Lyrics are like liquor for the fallen soldiers
From the bounce to the ounce, its all our culture
Everyday we hustlin, tryna get them custom rims
Law we ain’t trustin them, thick broads we lust in them
Sick and tired of bunchin it, I look on the bus at them
When I see them struggling, I think how I’m touchin them
The People…”

(Hey, I’m not going to try to out-write Common, I mean, come on…)

Of course any music awards show worth even mentioning has to have some great musical performances, and this one doesn’t disappoint. Notable artists such as Kanye West, Common, Nelly, Lil Wayne, and Playaz Circle brought the house down.  However, what was definitely missing, and missing in the more hardcore hip hop in general is some female acts. This was all guys up on stage this night. The show also featured musical vignettes called “Ciphers” where they would spotlight a bunch of artists from all over the world on a rooftop just spittin’ (uh, that would be rapping) freestyle. These included Wyclef, Twista and newer acts like Flo, Kardinal Offishall, Stat Quo, Phonte, Lil Mama and Dizzee Rascal (on a side note, these are all either colorful aliases or the naming convention in the Black community needs some serious overhauling).

“Just wanted to say to Lisa, Angela, Pamela, Renee…quit callin’ my house at three in the morning.  It’s over, I’m married, I have kids…move on with your lives…”

Other showcases included “Why I Love Hip Hop” from people such as MC Lyte, David Banner and Dr. Cornel West. KRS-One received a lifetime achievement and Katt Williams kept the entire thing moving with a clever joke here or there and about a half dozen wardrobe changes. Altogether a pretty good show, and at 87 minutes, very tight.

The Package

The show is presented in TV standard and on tape, this being a “live” show.  The sound is good though and the musical acts don’t disappoint. There’s one special feature, T.I.’s Rehearsal Footage that runs about 10 minutes. 

6.1 out of 10