Guys! The BET Awards! They’re happening again! And just like every other time an award is given, I am here to provide you a path through the darkness of having to decide whether to agree or disagree with the fine people at BET. Mostly disagree, probably1. Anyway, as always, here are the correct answers.
Best Hip-Hop Video
No matter how long it continues to happen, I will never stop laughing at the need to radio edit the song “Fucking Problems.” First off: it’s just called “Problems,” which sounds already like a song played by the opener of the second stage at a mid-nineties festival-style package tour, but in addition to that, in the radio edit of the song, he “loves bad……that’s my …….problem.” Which sounds like something a character in one of those European movies that’s shot all in soft focus and the trailer for which you’re constantly seeing in front of actually good movies. Anyway. Lots of things are like lots of other things. Kendrick Lamar has more fun with editing with “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” losing its vocative subject, which makes one wonder if the radio edit has the song still addressing MDMA – the “bitch” of the title – or if it’s rendered more stilted weirdness. B.O.B. can’t win an award until he agrees that he’s just “Bob,” Drake didn’t start from the bottom, and he won’t win an award for this song. Also, this category has our first appearance by J. Cole, who’s still not winning any awards, even if he does have Miguel around to help him this time.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: My love for “Fuckin’ Problems” is well-documented on this site, and I see no reason for it not to also win here.
Reese’s Perfect Combo Award
Hey! It’s “Fuckin Problems” again! And also “Power Trip” again! But the Lil Wayne collabo is “Pop That” and Drake’s is “Poetic Justice.” Oh, and for completeness’ sake: Wale is in this category, which means that J. Cole isn’t officially the least-deserving nominee.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: On the one hand, “Poetic Justice” is pretty awesome. On the other hand, there are few people I love more than Future when he’s got something right, and, in this case, [robot] HE WOKE UP IN A NEW BUGATTI [/robot], so I think “Bugatti” wins it.
Best Live Performer
I haven’t seen any of these people live, so I’m relying on television and YouTube to tell me who’s the actual winner. Jay-Z was upstaged by his brandy snifter earlier in the year, and that’s not a good way to start things off. J. Cole is not winning any awards. 2 Chainz is probably a lot of fun, but he kind of doesn’t have very many good songs. I bet Kendrick is a beast if you can get to see him somewhere small, where you can see him without a telescope. Shame that doesn’t happen.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Kanye, whose ability to both set up effective staging and play to the cheap seats makes him the correct answer in pretty much a walk.
Lyricist of the Year
OK. I hate to stop the proceedings like this, but we need to have a talk, America. J. Cole has been nominated in every category to this point, and I ask you: where is the justice in that? The guy is no better a lyricist than he is a rapper, which is to say that he’s slightly better at being both than he is at being a cheerful little bumblebee. Get it together, people. Anyway. It’s Kendrick Lamar. Of course it’s Kendrick Lamar.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Kendrick Lamar. Of course.
Video Director of the Year
AKA the “holy shit, Hype Williams is still alive?!” award. It’s not ol’ Hype, but it’s good to see him there. Dre Films is the result of a pretty good idea on Rick Ross’ part, – for MMG to have their own music video director – but he’s not a very good music video director, apart from giving the acts associated with the MMG brand a uniform look. I would have been surprised Benny Boom was still around if I hadn’t been still getting over the shock of seeing Hype Williams. I have no idea what distinguishes the work of Director X from anyone else’s. A$AP Ferg is a pretty good rapper, I guess, but his videos are like his weaknesses as an mc: derivative and not as well-composed as they should be.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Mrs. Coach’s hair, which I hear is also expected to kill it in the cypher this year.
DJ of the Year
This category was introduced in 2007. In the years since, the only year it hasn’t been won by DJ Khaled2 was the year it was won by DJ AM. What I’m saying is: this category is a fucking travesty.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: The dude that wears the Ronald Reagan mask on tour with Killer Mike. Or, alternately, the scary-ass undead-Diplo dude from Death Grips.
Producer of the Year
OK, I’m obviously being fucked with. Can you feel the rage boiling over? Because it’s boiling over. J. Cole is nominated in this fucking category again. In a just world, DJ Mustard would win this year – and should probably win for DJ as well – because Ratchet was fucking everywhere, and if we all have to talk about Miley Cyrus for twelve hours a fucking day, we can at least throw the dude a statue. I suppose the same logic would apply to Mike.Will MadeIt, but I hate his name too much to let him win, even if he is a pretty good producer for all that. Pharrell did better as a vocalist this year than a producer, and that’s sad, since “producer” is his actual job title. It’s pretty hard to argue with Hit-Boy, though.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Hit-Boy. Nobody really had a better year than Hit-Boy.
MVP of the Year
……ok. It’s. Not. J. Cole. It’s also not Jay-Z, as much as it pains me to say. He’s still managing to be the least-good part of any song he’s been on all year, and I’m saying that in a year that he actually released a record. Get it together, Sean. 2 Chainz has been a welcome presence on a bunch of great songs, but his bag of awesome guest-verses isn’t really hiding the fact that he’s not as great on his own tracks. I like Drake, but I don’t know why he’s here. But this is a foregone conclusion anyway.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Kendrick Lamar. Seriously, it’s Kendrick Lamar.
Track of the Year
Why wasn’t 40 Shebib nominated for producer of the year, actually? He’s got two appearances in this category: “Fucking Problems” and “Started From the Bottom,” and they’re huge songs. This category is actually remarkably strong once you force out the inevitable (seriously, at this point it has to count as inevitable, doesn’t it?) J. Cole nomination. “Bugatti” has Future doing so much with so little and “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” has Kendrick Lamar doing much more with much more.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: My head wants me to say “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” because it’s a great song by a great songwriter, and because the record it’s on has given a great deal of joy in the year or so that it’s been out3, but I LOVE FUCKING PROBLEMS THAT’S MY FUCKING PROBLEM.
Album of the Year
I’m trying as hard as I can to not take this J. Cole thing personally, but I will say: three of these albums (Power Trip, Magna Carta Holy Grail and The Gifted) are actually bad records. It’s good to see Nas nominated, although he’s unlikely to win, or even show up. This one, however, is also not really a surprise.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Kendrick Lamar, Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City
Rookie of the Year
A$AP Ferg will hopefully stay around to win the Hustler of the Year award in a couple of years, but for now, this isn’t his category. We’re probably still going to be talking about “All Gold Everything” in a decade, but I think the odds that we’ll remember Trinidad Jame$ for anything else are pretty slim. Rounding out the “People with Dollar Signs for Esses in Their Names” portion of the nominees is my beloved Joey Bada$$, who has a shot at this whole thing. Action Bronson could’ve won last year, but I haven’t liked much of what he’s done this year, and that sentence alone makes nominating him for a rookie award feel a little weird. Earl Sweatshirt may actually be a part of the hip-hop world full-time now, so it feels a little less weird in his case.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: I’m going with Earl Sweatshirt, because 1) I liked Doris a whole lot and 2) he doesn’t have any dollar signs in his name, but that’s not to say that on another day I wouldn’t have picked Joey Bada$$. I’m fickle.
Hustler of the Year
This category is a little too nebulous for me4, but I am duty-bound to do the job I have set out to do, so here goes: don’t give Diddy awards, you’ll only encourage him, Jay-Z seems like the sort of person this category was invented for at present, I guess TI had a lot of hustle this year? Kind of? He was on “Blurred Lines,” so I guess this would be a way to get that song involved. Kanye West don’t do no press but he gets the most press, kid, and Kendrick Lamar is the odd man out by getting talked about for his music.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: While that last sentence sounded kind of snotty, I would like to say that it should be Kendrick Lamar, because in addition to guest verses on seemingly one out of every four hip hop songs, there’s something to be said for his verse on “Control,” which literally took over the dialogue within hip-hop for almost a month and made the end of 2013 a very different place than the beginning, and while that may not fall under the category of “hustle” in the strictest sense5, it captures the spirit of the sort of thing I think we’re meant to be rewarding here: affecting the culture of hip-hop more than its actual sound. I think. I guess. kind of. Fuck, it’s probably just going to go to Jay-Z anyway.
The Made-You-Look Award
Presented to the performer with the best hip-hop style! That’s kind of neat. Unfortunately, I don’t have anything to say about it.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Kanye West. He’s snazzy.
Best Hip-Hop Online Site
This is a pretty good idea, and these are even some pretty good nominees6. I don’t always know the difference between WorldStarHipHop and GlobalGrind, and Complex is a bit of a stretch, but Rap Radar and Allhiphop are both pretty inarguably indespensible.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Allhiphop, I think. Although shouldn’t it be LiveMixtapes or DatPiff?
Best Club Banger
I don’t want to jinx it, but J. Cole hasn’t been nominated for anything in, like, five categories. I feel like the sun has come out after a storm. Anyway. I feel like this category is made for tracks like “Pop That” or “All Gold Everything.” Songs that there isn’t any reason to think of as anything other than a way to bop along for a few minutes. It’s not really for “Started From the Bottom,” but I get where they’re coming from. The problem with this category in 2013 is that two of the best “club bangers” in recent memory came out this year.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: I think “Bugatti” over “Fuckin Problems,” because Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Rocky are both tiny, and don’t have the arm space to carry home any more trophies7.
Don’t Be S.A.F.E. and Detroit are both bad. They do not win this award. The other three – Stalley’s Honest Cowboy, Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap and Travi$ Scott’s Owl Pharoah – are good enough to more than make up for it. Well, Stalley’s record is only really good enough to make up for itself. But Acid Rap and Owl Pharaoh are two of the best records of the year.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: I think Acid Rap, but not by a very large margin.
An award for “best featured verse” is such a grand idea I’m sad that more awards shows don’t have a “good parts” award8. Drake, Diddy and Wiz Khalifa are nominated for songs in which they don’t actually have the best parts, let alone the parts that are worth rewarding over “Fuckin Problems” or “Bugatti.” The problem with Future’s turn in “Bugatti” is that it’s basically just the chorus.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: I think if my aim were to surprise you people more, this list would be a lie. The rightful winner is Kendrick Lamar for “Fuckin Problems”
I still think this is total fucking bullshit, and I think so doubly because of the nomination of Macklemore at all. The one thing that would allow for me to give awards to J. Cole is that if giving awards to J. Cole meant Macklemore got punched in the head9.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Nobody wins this category ever, and I’m sad that “Black Skinhead” is only up in this one.
God, it’s Macklemore again. I had prevented myself from thinking about him for a couple of months, there. I was happy. I spent the whole early part of this fiasco (“the J. Cole era”) worrying about the wrong thing. Of course, J. Cole is also nominated in this category, because God is a cruel lie told to children to teach the agony of losing joy and hope. Without those two travesties, it’s the same three songs (“Started From the Bottom,” “Fuckin Problems” and “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe”) that have been nominated for everything else.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: “Started From the Bottom,” because I’m tired of having to choose between “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” and “Fuckin Problems”
Well that does it again for the most confusing awards show of the year! Tune in next year when I still don’t know why it’s called “Sweet 16,” and my loathing of DJ Khaled is still overshadowed by the fact that the world wants me to think of J. Cole as anything other than a pest.
1 SPOILER ALERT
2 I’m sorry, I obviously mean DJ KHALED
3 it’s possible, as well, that the reason that I can’t get on the wagon for “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” is because there are five or six better songs on the album, which says more about the strength of the album than the lack thereof of this particular single, but still keeps it out of the serious running more than it maybe should.
4 and also is pretty transparently an excuse to give an award to someone who they want to be at the show, and they want credit for giving awards to, but who didn’t really do anything worth rewarding that year.
5 not that, as a reminder, I have any idea what “the strictest sense” of the definition for “hustle” would actually be
6 I guess The Passion of the Weiss couldn’t be included because it isn’t always a hip-hop blog. I understand, guys.
7 2 Chainz is nine feet tall, he’s got plenty of space, but I didn’t mention him for the joke. Shut up.
8 note to those of you that have been following from year to year: I still don’t know why it’s called “Sweet 16,” and I still find that baffling and infuriating.
9 oh no now I’m bullying! I should go appropriate the hell out of something and write a condescending verse about how hard it is for other people but not me to atone!