(Los Angeles, CA) June 26th, 2010 a day after the BET International La Fete Noir party (see review), the nominees began their morning with a media tour both off site and at the Shrine Auditorium where the awards was to be held.
“It doesn’t get any better than this,” said Antwi to Ladybrille Magazine at the Shrine Auditorim regarding his nomination on a global platform like BET. “It is great to be recognized, it is about time.” Antwi was sound checking for a show in Ghana at the Labadi Beach hotel when he began receiving phone calls from friends congratulating him about his nomination. “Everything I have been doing has already prepared me for this,” added Antwi with a happy smile. “I see it more as a good thing for African music. I am not seeing it as a personal thing because for me, what the Africans in the diaspora do is good and they are the ones somehow bringing us together and I think it is a great thing.”
Africans in the diaspora should indeed be credited for helping give visibility to the talented Africans within and outside the continent. One such African is Lilian Blankson, the woman directly responsible for the nomination of MI, P-Square, HHP and Antwi on the BET International Act Category. “We saw there was really amazing talent in Africa,” said the Ghanaian-American who is the Programming Manager, Writer & Producer for BET International. “We went to Nigeria for the Sunday Best Gospel Audition. We saw a lot of talent, tremendous talent . . . the music videos, artists like Nikki Laoye, Rooftop MCs, Timi Dakolo. They were just amazing artists and that really showed us, “Whoa there is amazing talent here,”” expressed Blankson to Ladybrille in a proud and exciting voice.
For Blankson it was not about pushing her continent on her bosses at BET. It was about showing the tremendous and significant talent in Africa. “Once they saw the significance of it, it made sense to tie it into the award show,” added Blankson. “This year has just been great for Africa. We’ve been doing big things. The FIFA World Cup, Ghana’s Sarkodie signing to Akon’s labe, and now the BET Awards for these African artists. It is all very exciting!”
Nigeria’s MI was also one who caught the contagious excitement during the BET Awards weekend. “I am very grateful to be here. I am learning a lot,” said MI to Ladybrille in a subdued tone. The rapper who left the USA as a result of immigration issues was returning with recognition on a global platform.
“For me, the biggest emotion I am feeling is, we’ve got to keep working, we’ve got to keep moving. There is a lot more work to do. This is not time to pat myself on the back,” added MI in a now driven and excited tone. “Yes I have done this but wouldn’t it be amazing 3 or 4 years if we have 3 or 4 Nigerians from the continent who have gone mainstream in the US? ” he asked. “So, it’s back to the drawing board for me.”
Indeed it would be amazing for even more African artists to be recognized on a global platform, as June 27th 2010, the day of the 2010 BET Awards, demonstrated.
On June 27th, 2010, 7.4 million viewers and 4.5 million households tuned in to watch Queen Latifah (host) and numerous American music stars perform at the BET 2010 Awards.
The excitement on the red carpet matched that of nominees throughout the weekend. “I am so excited to be here at the awards. This is my second time,” said American based South African-American artist Goapele to Ladybrille. “I have met Usher many times but I have never seen him perform,” said Paul Okoye of P-Square. “Oh mygosh, I want to see him perform,” continued Paul. “I can’t wait to see Prince!” exclaimed Peter Okoye the other half of P-Square. “This is exciting, it is the height of everything for us. Who knows after this, it will be the grammys?” said the duo.
From the thirteen-year old Alicia Keys protégée Gabi Wilson, whose publicity and promotion is managed by Daniel an Ethiopian-American, to emerging rapper and singer Rasheeda, many celebrities on the red carpet shared Peter Okoye’s excitement to see Prince perform.
“Don’t worry we are Nigerians,” is what Paul Okoye told Ladybrille Magazine when we inquired what he would be wearing prior to June 27th, 2010. Their “Nigerian-ness” was not lost on the media when they walked down the red carpet on the big day. The duo turned heads in their Michael Jackson Nigerian flag green-white-green inspired outfits. Where P-Square was loud, MI kept it neutral with a gray suit and black pants, his hair styled by stylist Saleaka Lyons. Like P-Square, Antwi also chose to represent his country’s fashion industry opting for the design of Ghanaian designer Kareem Issaka.
A little over 5pm, BET premiered its tenth annual BET Awards show. The well executed show which aired live from 8:00-11:30 pm featured a moving tribute to Michael Jackson performed by Chris Brown. Brown mesmerized his audience with “The Way You Make Me Feel,” “Remember The Time,” “Billie Jean,” “Smooth Criminal,” and then broke down to tears singing “Man In The Mirror.” The event celebrated the musical genius and iconic career of Prince, showcased Kanye West and T.I.’s comeback performances and gave special recognition to John Legend, as the recipient of the 2010 Humanitarian Award. The 2010 BET International Act went to British based half Ghanaian and half Nigerian rapper, Dizzee Rascal.
The BET International winner, however, remained unknown to all nominees until well after the show, since the award event did not air that segment. A wise thing would have been to make a collage and short footage of the nominees and air it at the award show as many across the continent where waiting to see their African celebrities on BET. BET, nevertheless, created an opportunity for all nominees to appear on the popular 106 & Park show for the Pre-BET Awards.
“This is what I take away from this. . .I watch Drake on stage and I’m thinking, if I could come from where I came from, I can get there,” said MI who took to twitter to share the impact of the show on him with his fans.
“I am particularly proud of the nomination of MI and P-Square for the 10th Annual BET Awards,” said Tope Esan, President and CEO of the New York produced Nigerian Entertainment Awards, to Ladybrille Magazine after the show. “It is an honor to be recognized for what you do and just seeing the mainstream media take interest in both acts during the BET Awards media day is a testament that Nigerian music is getting closer to gaining recognition in the worlds biggest music market.”
For all nominees, after traveling over 6,000 miles from Ghana and Nigeria respectively and throwing themselves into the flurry of activities, they resorted to a quiet night with both MI and Antwi opting for pizza and the quiet comfort of their SLS hotel beds. For the P-Square duo, the long chairs in the patio beckoned their tired bodies. “Nigeria might not have scored in the World Cup. But, we scored here at the BET Awards,” said the witty and funny Paul Okoye as he leaned back into the patio chair he was seating to enjoy his already litted cigarette.
Kojo Antwi’s Guest KKD
Ladybrille’s Uduak Oduok and Victoria Audele of TheYBF.com
Artist Kandi Burruss
Rapper Flo Rida
Kojo Antwi, MI & P-Square on 106 & Park
~story by Uduak Oduok
~Uduak Oduok dressed by Kevan Hall
~Photocredits: Ladybrille, Tope Esan/NEA
~Video courtesy of BET & NotJustok.com