Also known as “Culture’s Biggest Night”, the BET Awards have long highlighted artistic diversity within the black community and wider African diaspora and the 2023 edition was no different.
With this year marking hip-hop’s 50th anniversary, a significant portion of the BET Awards broadcast was devoted to celebrating the genre’s dynamic legacy. Old school and new school rappers take the stage at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles – including The Sugarhill Gang, Fat Joe, Fabolous, Remy Ma, Doechii and Ice Spice, among others – for a rare night of rap styles from the East Coast, West Coast and the South and beyond who have come to dominate music and culture in the US and worldwide. Sunday’s broadcast captured the performances and impassioned speeches, but missed some of the trends and moments on the carpet and behind the scenes.
Sunglasses were in abundance on Sunday’s pink carpet – partly as a stylistic choice, but also because the midday sun shone brightly! Loewe’s Mask sunglasses were popular, especially those with iridescent, oil-slick lenses, mirroring the flurry of glitzy sequined dresses that populated the carpet. Several female artists also made a statement with a strong display of stacked bracelets.
The crowd stood in amazement and excitement as Quavo and Offset joined forces as the Migos to perform some of their biggest hits, including “Bad and Boujee.” This surprise performance was especially powerful after rumors of a rift between the two remaining group members, who also used the stage design to pay tribute to their late relative and collaborator Takeoff, who was killed late last year.
Another organic moment occurred when St. Louis newcomer Sexyy Red spontaneously rose from her seat in the audience as her hit single “Pound Town” played over the speakers during a commercial break, giving everyone an up close and personal performance from an exit row. .
THE IMPACT OF THE WGA WRITER’S STRIKE ON AWARD SHOWS
“There were a lot of sensitivities around the strike, and acknowledging and understanding why the strike is happening… but at the same time, this is such an important cultural moment and knowing that it is important to hold this event for the community,” said BET’s EVP of business growth strategy Brian Rikuda.
At the BET Awards, haircuts on the carpet are as experimental as outfits; a wonderful example of the versatility of black hair and the creativity of hairstylists. Sculptural styles particularly stood out: singer Ravyn Lenae wore faux burgundy locks styled into a round headpiece, and model and actress Eva Marcille wore her hair wrapped in a crown-like collection of crystals.
Rapper Smino, who joined friend Lenae on the carpet, said: “Anytime I’m uninspired, I just change my hair (and) do something else. I love having her because it helps me not to be pigeonholed to sit.”
SOUTH AFRICAN REPRESENTATION
In recent years, South Africa has taken over the global music scene, thanks in part to the infectious sound of amapiano, the beloved house music subgenre that emerged in the mid-2010s and is a retro-futuristic hybrid of deep house, jazz and lounge music. Swazi-born DJ and producer Uncle Waffles has played a part in sharing the genre with the world. “I think (amapiano) is next because now you’re getting the attention of people you didn’t even think you had access to…I definitely think it’s the next trend,” she shared THR.
And South African rapper KO, who was nominated for Best International Act at the 2023 BET Awards alongside DJ Uncle Waffles, shared his thoughts on Sunday about how “anything is possible”.
“Being here and being nominated is an honor. It’s also a motivating moment, not only for myself, but for people coming home from slums, like myself,” he said, adding, “When I first started at home, hip-hop was almost nowhere in the commercial space, and because I was one of the people who led the genre back home, now it’s one of the leading commercial sounds… so many people can now feed their families and invest in the community through hip-hop.
PHARRELL WILLIAMS’ LOUIS VUITTON DEBUT COLLECTION
Lil Uzi Vert was dressed in several items from musician and designer Pharrell Williams’ debut collection as Artistic Director for Louis Vuitton, which was unveiled in Paris less than a week ago. The rapper rocked a bead-encrusted beanie and track jacket, along with a Kelly Green LV monogram messenger bag. “We are going to bring foreign countries to the United States,” Uzi told Vert THR on the carpet.