A great euphoria continues to proliferate the atmosphere, after the 40th Anniversary of the BET Awards 2020! There was great excitement, healing, and hype, which surrounded the event. In fact, many people would highlight the digital artistry as one of the most-if not the most-intrinsic and phenomenal shows every organized by BET. Everything felt right. The stage felt right. There was greatness and purpose in the show, as it was filled with the healing nectar, needed by the masses. Black America’s people were clearly in need, as it pertained to the wellness of our emotional psyche. Its one thing to move towards progress. Its another thing to heal from the trauma. So often progress is filled with images of “struggle.” This has been especially true for the his/herstory of Black American communities all over the country. Yet, healing, restoration, and renewal is not always depicted or brought to the table.
Music has always been our element. In fact, it has been the anecdote of our healing and experience in these United States of America. In the world of Black America’s gardens, there has been plenty of work when it comes to using the power of music, in delving through the tough and difficult times. The Soul, R&B, Hip Hop, Neo-Soul, Ragtime, Gospel, and numerous other musical elixirs are filled with enchantment, and the beauty of everything, which highlights the realness and aesthetics of our people’s existence in these United States of America. It brings emotional comfort, and wellness, to those difficult hardships, which highlights the story of Black American people in the United States of America.
There was another element at the 40th Anniversary of the BET Awards celebration. One of those particular elements pertained to the African presence. With wins from Nigerian artists such as Wiz Kid and Burna Boy (Best International Act), and Zimbabwe’s own, Sha Sha, who won the 2020 BET Viewer’s Choice: Best New International Act award, particular artists from the Continent were able to receive their shine. However, there was another hidden element. It was not given the same level of hype as those artists, who won awards. Nevertheless, it was a sacred one, indeed.
When we speak about the presence of African artists in Black America’s cultural and musical gardens, very few artists, from the Continent have mastered inter-harmonic engagement, with Black American aesthetics. Many have entered, but few have intertwined themselves in a way, where they are able to have some musical, cultural understanding of the Black American experience, in US soiling.
Going back into the time of Fela Kuti, listeners experienced an intriguing genre, known as AfroBeat. A mixture of Ghanaian Highlife music, Black American art forms such as Jazz, Funk, Psychedelic Rock, and other traditional, West African rhythms, were the ingredients for this musical recipe. Fela Kuti traveled to the United States, during a time of the Black Panther Party’s vigilance, and push for socioeconomic change, in the United States. Clearly, Fela Kuti took a liking to the sound of such a peculiar people. These Negroes of US soiling, and their endless cycles of producing musical nutrition was clearly heard by Mr. Kuti. There was an obvious liking to the sound of Black American artistry. A form of musical diplomacy, and dismantling the barriers between Black Americans and those of the West African persuasion, who had recently arrived on US soiling. What a shame that we could not have heard from Fela Kuti, himself, on this particular journey. What if we could imagine Fela’s interaction with Black American people? What was the sensory, and the process, in how he was able to explore these different realms? Did Fela Kuti discover a connection, and feel the euphoria, as it pertained to experiencing the current energies, felt by Black America, during his visit to the United States? We do not know, do we? All we can do, is imagine. All we can do is ponder and reflect.
There was one particular artist, who gave us insight into what it could have been like, should Fela Kuti immerse with Black American people. His presence was a perfect mixture to the conversation. Still having ties to his native Nigeria, while also having been mentored, and nourished, in Black American spaces, there is a particular magic, where he is able to navigate between both worlds. The mannerisms in which he is able to do it is with ease, and such fluidity, you would think he was sent here by Fela Kuti, himself, in order to complete that kind of musical harmony between two different cultures. That particular artist is none other than, actor, R&B singer, and model, Rotimi!
The 2020 BET Awards After Show was met with a variety of entertainment opportunities. Coming in the form of musical critiques of the performances of certain artists. There was comedy. The presence of fictional characters, to bring into the spacing, was evident. Dynamics of Mr. ButterScotch and the dress-up, blond, pin-up, Bohemian-styled girl of American actress and model, Karrueche Tran enhanced the theatrics of the after show. A clear presentation in the comedy of fiction’s immersion with reality. A performance by artist, Saint Jhn created perfumes of midnight’s bliss. Then of course, the presence of Curtis Roach secured the middle ground. His position for the show was the balance and stabilizing of the atmosphere. The crossing of night served as the backdrop for the element of the night. It feels as if it is continuing the aura of the night. Love was abound, and renewal was everywhere. It was taking flight and taking shape.
Looking at Rotimi’s engagement with the other hosts, one is taken back to Fela Kuti’s initial steps into the United States of America. What members of Black America’s gardens did he speak with? How did he interact with its people? Like Rotimi, did he bring in his own assessment of our artistry, while conveying his connection to West Africa’s musical forms, which have birthed him? Did he speak with us as if we were familiar, and in that conversation was it music, which lead him to understand a portion of Black America’s experience? With Rotimi’s presence, and especially, with the introduction piece of all 3 presenters, it is clear that Fela’s musical journey has found its way into one niche of Black America. The background design of Karrueche Tran of balloons, and specifically her brown-colored attire, highlights a particular dimension of Black American gardens. The different colors, positioning, and sizes of the balloon set-up in Karrueche Tran’s background aesthetics, creates an inviting element, where viewers are allowed to partake in this cultural arrangement. It is symbolic of the energy patterns, which decorated the BET Awards 40th Anniversary’s presentation. One so Earthly, delicate. It felt as if today’s modern era of Black American people had returned to the very soils and cotton fields, worked by our foremothers and foremothers. In doing so, we had rubbed our hands, legs, and bodies into those very same soils. Having done so, we laid all of our pains right there. This time the soils would bring tenderness to our broken bodies. Healing would take place. What if this was one of the observations made by Fela Kuti, when he saw us in performance? What if Rotimi’s presence was a re-enactment of what Fela Kuti experienced, when coming across these peculiar, Black people, who were supposedly, “lost?” Only this time he had immersed with the people, and into the culture, as he truly desired. He got more time to do it, this time around. And so, he sees things more clearly. Its that “aha” moment, from 1st or 2nd generation, African communities in the States, who have been oblivious, or disconnected from Black America’s myriad experiences. Hmmm. . . Perhaps, just perhaps, that’s what actually happened!
The after show of the 2020 BET Awards was that debriefing moment that we needed. Connecting with others on a similar vibe, and validating with each other that our feelings were just, and right. Oh, so right! During the show, we were allowed to make an analysis of our breath patterns. Once that ended, the after show gave us that permission, to breathe. Our breath patterns were not stable, and we could enjoy them, through that time of reflection. This time we were safe, and in the company of others, who understood. That is one thing that the after show, permitted! It was beautiful, and after it was over, we were granted permission, to sigh, and breathe! That was the beauty of every portion of our experience for this year. Setting the tone for many more breaths to come!
To stay up to date with the latest from Rotimi, you can go to the following:. http://www.rotimimusic.com
For the latest on Karrueche Tran, you can go to the following: Twitter: @karrueche
For the latest on Curtis Roach, you can go to the following:. Twitter: @curtistootrill
For the latest on Saint John, you can go to the following: http://www.saintjhn.com