We Miss the Old BET

February 13, 2019

I’ve had a bone to pick with BET for so long now. After this tasteless, desperate tweet from the Official BET Twitter account, congratulating Cardi while putting down Nicki, I started thinking in depth about what BET has become. It really made me sad.

But before I begin, why is it that we can never congratulate one woman without putting down another? For Cardi’s entire career, people have pitted Nicki Minaj against her. Nicki is in a lane of her own and paved the way for amazing girls like Cardi. Let these two queens prosper. This tweet from the Black Entertainment Television Network was so disappointing when you look back on their legacy.

This is a visual example of trying to be cute and it backfiring…like really badly.

Ouch.

How do you go from quality content back in the day to tweeting crap like this?  Let’s go black down memory lane to reminisce on the good ol times of BET. These are some of the things I miss.

Rap City , 1989-2008

Rap City really allowed us to witness the talent and spirit of Hip Hop that we don’t experience as much today. The videos, interviews and freestyles exemplified raw hip hop. The art of Lyricism  and Off-the-Dome freestyles, which has since been watered down by mumble rap, was alive in this era. There was little filter and a high sense of paying your respect to those who were the front runners of the craft. Rappers were taken to task and showed no mercy on the freestyle segments in order to gain their stripes. Shout out to the GOAT, Big Tigger.  You got to hear so many flows. It was like a candy shop…shoot, remember the G-Unit episode? Listen to Kanye’s old Rap City freestyle. We miss him like we miss the old BET.

106 & Park Dynasty, 2000-2014

I remember I would wait next door at my grandma’s house for 106 to come on. I’d turn the TV on to BET and just let Rap City play out from 5pm to 5:59pm. I couldn’t wait for the 106 & Park intro at exactly 6 o clock.  I remember when Khia’s My Neck, My Back made it to #1 on the countdown. Let me tell you, the city of Tampa was on cloud 9, you hear me? But Fuck Khia because she blocked me on Instagram.

At one point, 106 & Park was the premier judgment that we used to validate the success of a song. It mattered if you made an appearance, performed,  premiered a new video, if your video went from #1 to #10 in a day and you learned the latest dances from these videos: Pop Lock & Drop it, Walk It Out, Soulja Boy, A Bay Bay, Bird Walk, aunt Jackie and so many more.  Remember when a video would stay on the count down for weeks? It was what Billboard is for us now.

How can I forget to mention the greats, AJ and Free…honestly even Rocsi and Terrance. I didn’t watch it much after Rocsi walked off. Remember that?! That was crazy. I watched a little bit when Bow Wow hosted (which was a full circle moment) but not much after that. This show was such a staple to  Hip Hop, R&B and even Gospel culture.

I remember me and my cousins would try to guess the order of the count down. Do y’all remember when “Take Ya Home” by Lil Bow Wow came out?! That was such an epic time. That’s why I really do feel bad for Bow Wow now because he is truly a gem to our childhoods. Bow Wow, if you’re listening, 1. Keep your hands off girls but also, I want you to get the help you need. It’s crazy because everybody, literally, wanted to be like Mike.

And let me not forget Freestyle Friday…..That was the fiercest competition of them all. If you don’t vividly remember those competitions then I feel bad for you. I lived for those.

Remember Blind Fury and Jin?

 

Access Granted, 2001-2009

Access Granted was all that young creatives and budding music artists lived for. These were the times that we got to know people like Hype Williams from behind the scenes. We saw music videos like Big Pimpin or a crazy Ludacris video being put together.

The inner workings of these music videos broadened our horizons past careers of being just doctors and lawyers. We saw that it was possible to make those creative visions that we had for the songs we loved  come to life through video producer careers. Those moments when you’d hear your favorite song in the back seat of the car while you looked out of the window as the rain slid down, you could bring those very moments to life.

I also vividly remember being up late one night at my grandma’s house watching an episode of Access Granted. It was the making of Sean Paul’s “We Be Burnin” video. They were in the desert with colorful jeeps accompanied by dancers in white button downs, corsets and black shorts. I’m not sure if I was more enamored with being a video vixen/dancer or making the videos. Honestly, both. I was in my grandma’s den with the music barely audible to anybody else in the house, trying to learn those dance moves. I didn’t care that it was late on a school night. I needed to be casted for a Sean Paul video.

In retrospect, this was such an amazing show that I wish still aired. There should still be some type of show on YouTube (OR BET) to show the BTS of music videos. It gave us more of an in depth knowledge of what was going on, the creative process and the people.

 

Let’s not forget the beauty of Aaliyah’s “Rock The Boat” video, RIP to an angel.

BET Music Awards, 2001- 

I was mortified when I saw the technical failures of SZA’s CTRL performance on the 2017 BET awards. This unfortunately did not surprise me at all. The decline of the BET awards has been gradual and hand-in-hand with the decline of the entire network for a while but 2017 was my last straw. There was a time where everyone looked forward to the BET Awards like a black holiday. Before you left school you’d ask your friends, “You watching the awards tonight?” Quite frankly, it was an exciting feeling. The production was fairly good for a while but slowly crumbled under the rubble of the transitions in power and ownership. There were so many unforgettable moments of Black History that were brought forth from this award show.

With award shows like the Grammys blatantly disrespecting Black artists, we need a BET awards. But the lack of care and effort put into the BET awards for the artists, has us saying things like “You know _______ doesn’t even attend the BET awards anymore.” I don’t blame them. Quality begets quality. You can’t have a half ass production and expect a whole as performance or appearance…It does not work like that.

Not sure where we went wrong but I know where we should go!

This network once reflected the realistic experiences of black people. We want the real back. BET, I see you’re trying with the shows like Boomerang and American Soul, which I am extremely happy about. Please don’t mess these shows up like you did The Game and Being Mary Jane. I actually checked out the programming yesterday. There were 12 episodes of Martin showing throughout the day.  This is so unnecessary. We are more than just 90s sitcom shows…no shade. You can easily look on Instagram or Twitter for young, black film and series writers. It’s not rocket science. Check out Award winning director, Riley Wilson’s Lil Apple Series. It’s a “live-action sci-fi drama series and comic book about a young Harlem girl’s transcendence into consciousness.”

We don’t want to see Madea’s Family Reunion or Baby Boy for the 100,000th time in a row; Even though we do love these movies. We want you to incorporate this new age of black excellence and talent.

Equally as important in a day where we are not properly represented in the media, it would help if our own network could be a voice of honesty on politics and news. And we don’t want to be seen tearing each other down like the tweet about Nicki Minaj. Hold your employees accountable when it comes to handling your reputation. You need to vet your entire roster of employees to make sure they know that their work is a reflection of the company itself. You’re not the Shaderoom, you’re BET. Remember that.

Incorporate our Black schools and not a weak TV series loosely based off of our schools. Cover the magical vibes of our homecoming experiences and the powerful initiatives HBCUs are creating to elevate our communities to a different level. There’s so much you can do.

Sidenote: I know from personal experience as a show coordinator and volunteer of the Howard University Homecoming Steering committee that the mishaps of the BET Awards could be easily avoided. Incorporate these former students and seasoned producers to correct it!

Incorporate young social media geniuses to share the content that we want to see. There is so much talent out there. All you have to do is look.  You can accept show pitches from young black producers.

BET, you have the chance to be a beacon of hope and pride like you once were, don’t allow it to completely slip through the cracks. If anybody from the network is reading this, please don’t let what birthed the careers and legacies of so many people, die. Even if you have to tear down the old structure and start a new, do it. It’s worth it to us.

Lastly, reflect the positive. There’s so much negativity and hate in this world. Beat out the darkness with light. I guarantee that would help more than you know.

If you are reading this and you know someone who works at BET, show them this. I think it’d help. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Author: Nave Sizon

Founder of Naveszn.com - I'm a FL native, a Howard and Columbia grad and a creator of many things. As a polymath, I do so much. I care about so many things. Naveszn.com was the perfect tool to utilize my gifts and my love for highlighting the talents and stories of black people and culture.