BET brings the star to stage

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BET Awards 13 - Pharrell, Justin Timberlake and Charlie Wilson perform a medley_CITY_E1 (35064036) Getty Images for BET LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 30: (L-R) Singers Pharrell Williams, Charlie Wilson, and Justin Timberlake perform onstage during the 2013 BET Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on June 30, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for BET)

The BET Awards celebrate minorities in music, acting, sport and other entertainment fields over the past year. Host Chris Tucker made this year one to remember…

In most cases, it’s the host who either makes or break an awards ceremony. If the host is not witty and is unsure of himself that will affect the show.

This is also the case with the performances. Given that we know more or less how the songs performed at award shows normally sound, it is imperative that the artists find creative ways of presenting their hits live.

The BET Awards got these two elements right and the evening became a truly memorable experience.

This year’s host, comedian Chris Tucker, was born to do the job. Whether on air or during commercial breaks, there was no stopping the Rush Hour and Dead Presidents star. From the Michael Jackson skits to picking on all the celebrities in attendance, Tucker had them rolling on the floor. This proves he still has it, especially considering he hasn’t done any major films of late, yet he’s still in touch with his fan base.

The jury would probably be hung on who did the better job on stage between Chris Brown and Ciara. They both had explosive individual sets and it helps that both artists can sing and dance.

BET Awards 13 - Ciara performs at the BET Awards 13_CITY_E1 (35064035) LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 30: Singer Ciara performs onstage during the 2013 BET Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on June 30, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for BET) Getty Images for BET

Another factor that strengthened this edition of the BET Awards was the calibre of the presenters. You had people like the Whose Line Is It Anyway? star, Wayne Brady who, like me, had never attended the BET Awards before. However, Brady could not present the award without a few sketch lines about this fact. Being an improvisation master he went to town about his exhilaration at finally being invited.

Still on funnymen, Kevin Hart outdid his Real Househusbands Of Hollywood mates who included Nick Cannon, Boris Kodjoe, Nelly, Duane Martin and Robin Thicke.

Then Justin Timberlake came on stage to present the Lifetime Achievement Award to crooner Charlie Wilson. Everything was excellent, from the synchronised dance moves they did before they exchanged the accolades to the performances they did afterwards with Snoop Lion and Pharrell Williams joining them on stage.

A much calmer Miguel gave fans a fright when he charged them, making as if he’d jump over them as he notoriously did a few weeks ago. I was relieved to see him stay on the stage.

Whether it was premeditated or not, it was funny to have Tucker locate Ron Isley from the crowd. The singer was recently released from jail after serving a sentence for tax evasion. Tucker took a dig at him, comparing him to Wesley Snipes who is also serving time for that reason. But the beauty of the skit was when Tucker was interrupted by an R Kelly song, Down Low, which he did with Isley.

It worked seamlessly.

BET Awards 13 - Mariah Carey at the BET Awards 13 (35063969)_CITY_E1 LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 30: Singer Mariah Carey performs onstage during the 2013 BET Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on June 30, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for BET) Getty Images for BET

Apart from Wilson, another celebrity to be honoured was Miami Heat basketball star, Dwyane Wade. The player received the Humanitarian Award from State Farm for his philanthropic efforts through his charity, Wade’s World.

Other top winners on the night included Brown, Nicki Minaj, Kendrick Lamar and Jaimie Foxx.

It was interesting to hear Lamar, who won Best Newcomer, tell of how he came from a rough background, but still managed to beat the odds.

Foxx confessed he wasn’t sure at first if playing Django in Quentin Tarantino’s film was a good idea. But he was impressed by how the reception changed and how people across all races enjoyed it.

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Awards build-up a whirlwind of activities

Omnipresence. That’s the only way by which someone could have enjoyed the BET Experience in Los Angeles.

Spread over three days, city residents and tourists were treated to various activities in the build-up to the BET Awards.

Before the 13th edition of the awards, the format was simple: guests arrived the night before,

the awards took place the next day and then the guests departed.

Now several activities took

place which ranged from free day performances by top artists like Janelle Monae, RaVaughn and Marsha Ambrosius. At night

music lovers were treated to more performances, paid for this time, from stars who included Beyoncé, Erykah Badu, Snoop Lion, Dr Dre, 2Chainz, Kendrick Lamar and R Kelly.

If you were not at any of these concerts you could have been at one of the seminars hosted by either Kirk Franklin or Boris Kodjoe.

Then throw celebrity basketball into the mix where the likes of Chris Brown and J Cole played in the sun as delighted fans watched.

Various stands were available to let revellers get into the mood of the inaugural BET Experience. In the scorching LA heat, you could find several Kool-Aid companies giving away free cups of their ice-cold beverages which were appreciated.

Then, for those curious about African-American culture, several places sold the famous “soul food”.

From several other activities such as dance-offs and mock BET Award acceptance speeches, you were never short of something to do; it was essential to be omni-

present to fully appreciate the

three-day festival.

That said, this is how it all panned out for me. Given that I had never been to Los Angeles before, the first thing to delight me on day one was learning that all the activities were to be held around the Staples Centre area, home to my favourite basketball team, The Lakers.

Apparently, star player Kobe Bryant was even spotted at one location and be that as it may, I held no grudges for not meeting him to discuss the future of The Lakers as there was just too much to do.

The Grammy Museum, The Nokia Theatre and the ESPN Centre, which were all available

as venues for various BET-related events, are within walking distance of each other, making it easy for the visitor to access them.

• DAY 1: Things started slowly as we all tried to figure out where to begin. The Grammy Museum didn’t seem like a bad idea, given that the BETs are about celebrating music, among other things.

This is when it strikes you just how great legends like the Jackson Five and Whitney Houston were in their heyday.

From there we went to check out the 106 & Park stage where Bow Wow was presenting on stage to

an excited crowd, predominantly comprised of girls in their teens. It was with this crowd that I saw the first performance by Monae where she sang the Jackson Five’s I Want You Back.

Some people in my company decided to see the Covergirl- sponsored lounges where they

could get free makeovers in the presence of rapper MC Lyte, but that was just too effeminate for

me. Besides, in the LA heat, no makeover could save anybody.

After staying in the shade most of the time watching the basketball court activities, which included dance and slam dunk competitions, we made our way to the highlight

of the day, Beyoncé’s show. If you thought she was good on screen,

you have to see her live.

• DAY 2: Again another 24 hours of crazy fun. During the day there was a stage that hosted the likes of RaVaughn, Ambrosius and Elijah Blake. We got to watch that as we devoured some scrumptious oily meals from the Soul Food Showcase.

The celebrity basketball game with Bow Wow and Chris Brown started while we were checking

out the music and by the time we reached the courts it was too late

to enter. Our publicist came up with something even cooler – access to the 2Chainz, Lamar and Ace Hood’s rehearsal.

It was shocking that they actually called it a rehearsal. Sadly, they were not giving any interviews.

The night ended on an even higher note as we attended the Snoop Lion and friends concert which had surprise appearances from the likes of Dr Dre as well

as Warren G.

• DAY 3: All fan fest activities were by now closed to give way to the actual awards which started with the usual red carpet action at noon.

The awards ceremony came and went with most people rushing out to see the R Kelly show where he would be joined by New Edition and The Jacksons.

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