Another year has gone by and we have had another BET Hip-Hop Awards show and celebration. The Hip-Hop Awards was created to highlight the current state of hip-hop, honor its past and current legends and champions, and move the hip-hop culture forward. But we all know this is not happening. Why in the hell do we call something the Hip-Hop Awards, when it does not represent hip-hop except for a fraction of hip-hop music and culture?!? Out of all televised award shows, one would think that this, above all other award shows, would celebrate all of the glory of which is hip-hop. It would delve into the essence of hip-hop, tapping into the exploratory nature of which hip-hop was founded on to showcase the super dope rhyme-sayers all the way to the boundary pushing, genre bending producer. But no… We get spoon fed the same ole’ commercial acts and artists with a splash of some actual bars, concepts and content in some of the artists and winners of an award every now and then. Come on selection committee. Is this really the best you could have done? Is your mission even to expose all of hip-hop and its glory? Well if it was, from a true hip-hop fan, you pooped the bed as usual on this one. So let me air out a few of grievances and then supply you with some suggestions and a little bit of concluding commentary.
They Caught the Cardi B(ug), But It’s a Much Larger Issue at Play. Award Accurately
So I’m definitely about to sound like the world’s largest Cardi B hater, but I don’t care. Just do me a huge favor and actually read my commentary before judging a brother. Now, Cardi B walked away with the most hardware from the award show with 5 dubs (wins) to be placed on her award mantle. Let’s be serious here, 2 of those should not have been handed to her and here is why, from a hip-hop perspective. Does she have the smash hit of the year? No doubt she does (even though I don’t like it because it’s a spinoff of Kodak Black’s song, but I digress). Hustler of the year? Sure, she’s been tearing it up on her own promotion whether you like her antics and social media videos or not. Best hip-hop style? That’s debatable but we know our culture loves the character of the “ratchet hood chick”. Blend that with a splash of “woke-ness” and you have the powerful force a Cardi B and those alike. She can have all of those awards because, all jokes aside, she deserves those, but Best New Artist and Mixtape of the Year?! The selection committee stretched further than Pinocchio telling the world that Stretch Armstrong and GoGo Gadget had a baby together.
There are a plethora of new artists that came out the gates swinging this year with fresh content, excellent production and wordplay that could rival some of the best in the game today. Let’s take Mick Jenkins who has been telling us to “drink more water” for years and finally gave us “The Healing Component” to help guide us through troubled times. Or what about IDK (formally known as Jay IDK) who came through with “Empty Bank,” a concept project that gave us a snapshot of all the things that we do for money. And what about Little Simz? Our North London spitter who can rival many artists in the industry and is definitely a top 5 female MC right now in hip-hop. And we cannot forget about J.I.D., an offspring of the Outkast type of Atlanta and new signee of Dreamville. “The Never Story” gave us everything but a club banger, but maybe that’s all folks really care about nowadays. Musically and lyrically, she doesn’t compare or match up with any of these new artists in the mainstream. I beg to ask the question, how does she even get selected for best new artist without any other steam behind her except for one song, Kodak’s remixed hit?
Now let’s talk about this Mixtape of the Year business. Actually, I don’t have much to say but a couple of points. When it comes to mixtapes, in my personal opinion, I don’t see too many deserving mainstream artists that should be in this category these days simply due to the climate shifting back a bit to people buying albums or supporting through album streams, therefore the number of mixtapes that mainstream artists produce are significantly lower than they were even a couple of years ago. My second point, Royce Da 5’9 gave us “Bar Exam 4” and ethered any mixtape that has come out this year. If you love hip-hop, go listen to that please and I’m sure you will concur.
Hip-Hop is Diverse, Expand Your Horizons
Out of all awards shows that include hip-hop into their categories, one would believe that the actual Hip-Hop Awards would take it upon themselves to educate and celebrate the many facets and musical sub-genres and other elements of hip-hop that create our wonderful culture. But no, we get the same spoon-fed, commercialized corner of hip-hop that is displayed in every other section when hip-hop is discussed or awarded in the general public. How do we shine light on the many legs that hip-hop has grown and expanded to over the 40+ years it’s been in existence? There’s a simple remedy: Expand the awards given. Here are some categories that should be added to the list of awards:
Best Female Artist: Let’s please not pretend that just because someone like Cardi B is a household name and took home a lot of hardware that we all of a sudden have begun to acknowledge female MC’s as equals in the game and that the world knows many female MC’s. Give them their own award while not taking away any right to claim any of the other awards.
Alternative Album of the Year: Where is the lane for people like Anderson .paak, Vince Staples and Goldlink to exist? The sound of hip-hop has always expanded beyond the boom-baps of New York and the trapping drums of Atlanta. It’s time to show them.
Underground Producer of the Year: Ever heard of Kaytranada, MLB, Sounwave, Cardo, Nottz, Knxwledge, etc. Yeah, me neither…
Most Slept On Project of the Year: We all know those projects that are so good that you try to tell someone and they don’t know what you’re talking about. Then they come back 2 months later and be like, “bro/sis, you gotta hear this fire right here!” Then you’re like, “Fool I told you about that 2 months ago!” Yeah, those projects. For example, try Joyner Lucas’s “508-507-2209” or Jay IDK’s “Empty Bank.”
Concept Album of the Year: Albums like DAMN. Or Everybody automatically pop up in your head, but what about Bucket List, IWasVeryBad or 508-507-2209?
Hardest Freestyle/Cypher of the Year: Pure bars are not extinct! I’m having a hard time choosing between Mickey Factz on Sway, J.I.D. on Funk Flex, or King Los on LA Leakers…
Overseas Artist of the Year: Hip-hop is worldwide, so we need to acknowledge all of those who are carrying the culture beyond the American borders. The Caribbean, the UK, all of Europe and our West and Central African brothers and sisters are producing sounds and waves that our American artists are riding. Give them their due recognition.
Wrap It Up Bro. What’s Your Point?
I love this culture, this art, this movement that is hip-hop! I just want it to flourish and at least have those who created it, acknowledge the art form for everything that it has become. I know that hip-hop is more than just the music, but let’s just focus on this due to it being a music award show. With that being said, here are the takeaways to wrap this thing up: 1. Make sure that the DJ of the Year award goes to a DJ who is actually still DJing as a profession and doesn’t just have DJ in their name, 2. Stop pigeonholing hip-hop into a sold and commercialized entity and express all of the bountiful beauty we create through this art form, and 3. If somehow BET gets this blog or you send it to a representative and they want to create some of these categories or put me on the selection committee, please make sure they give me my due credit and/funds for this. You saw it here first! Because like brother Kendrick said, “This d*ck ain’t free!”
Written by: getEJIKEwithit