The BET Awards and Why Hip Hop is Not Motown

{Dwayne Betts}



The show came on at 8pm and Jamie Fox needed to be bleeped out four times in the first ten minutes.

Then, he performed Blame It On The Alcohol while climbing out of a giant bottle of alcohol. 

T Pain had on a chain that said "Big Ass Chain."

And then, if you watched more than thirty minutes of the show you recognized a few things. The juxtaposition of the O'Jays, New Edition, BVD with Kerie Hilton, Lil Wayne and Drake made it clear that there is a reason the camera wasn't panning the entire audience as word after word from Wayne's mouth was bleeped out.

But you know, none of that is too important. The real problem I have is that I can't get my moms to listen to the lil Wayne album. No, scratch that - I can't bring myself to play the album when I'm in the car with me. And while I think the new Wale joint is dope - when I went to recommended it to one of my mentors, in the back of my head I knew he wouldn't listen to it because there was too much profanity, and there were moments of disrespect.

But more than that, my favorite artist's thank the haters way too much.


Admission: Wale, lil Wayne, Drake and Joe Budden are in heavy rotation in the ipod. I bang my head to the lyrics as I travel through the city, as I travel down 295 wishing traffic was a product of my imagination that I could dismiss. I don't cringe at curse words. Yet, I can't in good conscience burn a cd for my mentors and say listen to this. I know they'll cringe at "I just wanna F- every girl in the world." I know the bodies strewn across the tracks become a bit tiresome. But, who can front on the dopeness of Makaveli? "To Live and Die in LA," "White Man'z World," and "Krazy." I mean who can front on those songs as saying something meaningful?


So what's the point? I got to thinking as I pulled back from giving an older brother I know a copy of a cd of mine that the problem with Hip Hop isn't that the artists are troubled - whatever that means. I think that the love songs, that the Motown songs, the 80s - that the music was representing something better than the people lived. But that doesn't make since either. What makes sense is that the audience was rocking when the 80s groups came out. When Guy came on stage the entire crowd rocked, danced. No words got bleeped out. New Edition came out and Bobby Brown was still getting his dance on with the extra weight. He would have been straight if he kept his tongue in his mouth.

I just wonder if the excesses and materialism in our lives, in the lives of wealthy celebrities who can make light of the recession, has bled into the music so much so that it's losing it's relevancy. I'm sounding like a purist, but I'm wondering how much of a hypocrite am I for liking the beat to "I Just Wanna F- Every Girl In The World" and knowing that in a few years I won't be listening to music I like cause I can't play a whole song without teaching my son to swear.

Last comment - the awards were part awards and part dedication to MJ. I walked away thinking that whatever MJ was in his life - his music has this enormous range that says that you can write a song, sing a song and it resound and represent something more of what you want to be than, maybe, anything you do. That's a blessing, and something to be sad about - I guess.
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