OutKast, Rick Ross, A$AP Rocky, Ty$, August Alsina, hosted by DJ Khaled
June 28, 2014
The three-day convention surrounding the BET Awards is the Comic Con of pandering to urban youth – corporations trying to convince you just how “down” they are.
More corporate names were dropped Saturday night at the Staples Center than on a weekday at the New York Stock Exchange. Between every set, an extended Sprite commercial featuring T.I., B.O.B. and Iggy Azalea played on the big screen, which received only slightly less applause than the performers themselves.
But it wasn't all bad. After all, Outkast were there.
Ty Dolla Sign is the L.A. R&B singer, known for “Paranoid.” He started promptly at 7 and played to to a mostly empty auditorium. The set lasted maybe 20 minutes, and he just couldn't get the crowd of early-comers involved, unfortunately. His voice sounded less unique in person, probably because he relies heavily on autotune on his recorded tracks. Still, someone had to start the show, and it was the Ford Focus of performances – solid, serviceable, unmemorable.
August Alsina is an R&B storyteller who sings a lot about the struggles coming up poor in New Orleans. He too faced empty seats, but seemed annoyed by it. He finished with his hit, “I Luv This Shit,” ending the song with a final rhyme of “shit” and “dick” and held on “dick” for a second or two then scampered off-stage without even bidding us farewell.
Despite being arrested for weed possession on Friday night in Greensboro, North Carolina, Rozay somehow managed to make it to Staples Saturday night, and to deliver forty five minutes of loud, high energy rap. Ross works hard on stage (though so does his hype man). He doesn't let up for a second and delivers his simple verses with an intensity that's impossible to ignore.
The problem is that his tracks feature so many guests, that each song only lasts about a minute. “Hustlin” and “John Doe,” were the only two songs that felt complete. Otherwise, he mostly rapped about cars: Aston Martins (“Aston Martin Music”), Bugattis (“Bugatti”) and Rolls Royces (B.M.F [Blowin' Money Fast]). And of course every song was punctuated by a female voice saying his label: “Maybach Music.”
I'm straight and I would probably bang A$AP Rocky. When he's performing, the lights and sounds drop away and you imagine running through a wheat field with him hand-in-hand and ever-so-slightly tousling his lovely hair. At one point he said, “You know, I consider myself a pretty motherfucker, so I have a lot of women in my life.”
The crowd turned up for “Wild For the Night,” thanks mainly, we suspect, to the beat from Skrillex. “Fucking Problem” was missing Drake and Kendrick, who, let's face it, best him on the song. All in all, A$AP isn't really our favorite, but who cares? It's entertaining just to look at him.
Although some people weren't impressed with Outkast's performance at Coachella, they killed it Saturday night. From opener, “B.O.B.” to finisher, “Ms. Jackson” – through Slick Rick joining them on stage for “Da Art of Storytelling” – Big Boi and Andre reminded everyone why they're part of the GOAT conversation.
Big Boi, rocking full fatigues and sunglasses, performed a short solo set. It started out high energy, but after three songs without Andre he seemed exhausted. He also found the time to call out Marc Lamont Hill, for some Twitter beef, which happened so fast that nobody caught it besides Hill himself.
Andre, meanwhile, bounced around the stage like a drama geek in a high school musical. He wore a white wig and a glossy black jumpsuit that said “Ninjas Kill Me.” He executed his rapid-fire verses in “B.O.B.” and “Ms. Jackson” with breathless precision. For “Hey Ya” he called a group of female fans to the stage, who were quite happy to shake it, shake shake it, like a…you know. After the set, one of the women in a flowery romper whispered something in Andre's ear. Andre smiled and said, “good thing I'm not wearing my shorts.”
The Crowd: Girls in heels, high cut-off jean shorts and dish rag shirts, guys rockin' chains. Not nearly as much weed smoking as you'd think.