TGJ Roundtable: 2016 BET Awards Review [#BETAwards]

Published: Monday 27th Jun 2016 by Sam


Welcome to the latest TGJ Roundtable!

Over the years, That Grape Juice has established a distinguished voice that – whether loved or loathed – sparks discussion, debate, and on occasion drama!

Though comprised of seasoned writers who share a similar outlook on Urban Pop culture, the idiosyncrasies of the TGJ team members often lend for quite heated debates “behind the scenes” about the hottest topics.

Now, we give you a front row seat to the show. In a format similar to ‘The View’ or ‘The Real’, TGJ editors – Sam, David, Rashad, and Joe – get real in a very candid way.

Today’s roundtable topic is the…

 2016 BET Awards Review

jesse williams thatgrapejuice bet awards


Many felt the lead-up to this year’s BET Awards was somewhat lo-fi. A stance I didn’t necessarily disagree with. But boy oh boy was it the calm before the storm. 

In what must be the best-kept secret in recent award show memory, the Beyonce performance was as genuine a surprise as a surprise can get in today’s social media age. 

Mrs. Carter is clearly at a point where she’s not only playing the game on her own terms, she’s revising the rules along the way. I say all of this to say that the expectation now with Bey is to not expect anything at all. Be that promo, radio pandering, Spotify links, or award show performances – especially a day away from the start of a tour across the pond. 

Put simply, she continues to bring a brand of excitement that her Pop peers are unable to generate. 

As for the performance itself, it served spectacle, grandeur, and vocals. There is a part of yours truly that still longs for the showgirl Bey who went all out with the choreography (each and every time). But she still beasted and bodied. The slayage was real. 

Elsewhere, Jesse Williams ministered to my spirit (and millions more) with his impassioned speech about racial equality. It was a historic moment and delivered potent truths on a platter. Here’s hoping the masses feast on it and digest its nutrients beyond the current news cycle. 

The much-touted Prince tributes delivered on their promoted promise. Indeed, I can totally envision the Purple One giving an approving nod to the likes of Jennifer Hudson, Maxwell, and Janelle Monae. Many a highlight. 

More polarising showings came courtesy of Usher and Alicia Keys. In Mr Raymond’s case, ’No Limit’ is a bop and was slickly performed as such. My only gripe was that he didn’t use pre-recorded vocals for the verses. The juxtaposition between the clean chorus (which he lipped) and winded verses (which he did not) irked because it would have been an altogether more impactful showing had he prioritized the performative elements. We all know he can sing already. 

Similarly with Ms. Keys, her solo rendition of ‘In Common’ was cool conceptually (see: playing all instruments herself). But award shows provide a platform for artists to show up and show out. And with the song not moving the needle at radio or retail, her stripped back showing felt like a missed opportunity. Like, last night’s performance should have swapped places with her showy showing at The Voice last month. 

All in all, BET continue to prove themselves at the forefront of the award show pack. Last night was entertaining, resonating, and rich in memorable moments. 



Going into this year’s show I wasn’t sure if it its line-up was strong enough to match earlier ceremonies.

Fortunately, I had nothing to worry about.

For, even away from Beyonce’s thrilling performance, the show was dominated by thriving household names of colour and – thanks to media’s renewed embracing of diversity– was a reminder that said names (even those who didn’t host or perform) are making major moves on mainstream platforms.

This is undoubtedly one of the reasons Viacom made the decision to air the ceremony across six of its networks.

What viewers saw when they tuned into these networks? An entertaining show steeped in social consciousness.

The obvious highlight of the night was Beyonce’s surprise performance of ‘Freedom‘ with help from Kendrick Lamar which offered fans many a “moment” by way of choreography, the rapper’s fresh lyrics and the song’s ties to the moving speech made by Humanitarian Award recipient Jesse Williams.

Unfortunately, Erykah Badu‘s part in her Prince tribute didn’t quite do it for me and, as many will agree, was carried by Bilal‘s channelling of the ‘Purple’ one and the force that is The Roots.

However, this may be because ‘The Ballad of Dorothy Parker’ isn’t one of the icon’s more recognisable numbers so that’s important to bare in mind.

On Usher’s performance? The guy is a legend and will always be one of Pop’s strongest performers. However, the last two years have seen him perform at several award shows. Why are said showings so forgettable?

His performance style is stale and repetitive and last night’s showing was no different. At this point, if he hopes to enjoy success with his new album ‘Flawed‘, it’s important that he hires a brand new team of creatives to inject his brand with fresh concepts.

To conclude, I thoroughly enjoyed this year’s show and hope next year will fare just as well.



I always find it funny how often people reference the “BET Awards” in a joking manner, as if to imply by association alone it is “ghetto” or “sub-par,” when it continuously (as proven yet again last night) is a yearly LEADER of award shows. By comparison, no other award show has such a lit audience and talented group of performers from start to finish. Even with some of the performances that I wish I hadn’t seen (Desiigner, Desiigner, and Desiigner), memorable moments from Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar, the ever-talented Alicia Keys, and many more made up for the show’s lack.

The idea of tribute performances to Prince sprinkled throughout the show was excellent and each of them served as the night’s highlights. Bilal and Jennifer Hudson absolutely stole the show without question and Janelle Monae and Sheila E. respectively brought the house down.


My only gripes were the lack of “umph” in Maxwell’s showing and the absence of ‘Diamonds and Pearls’ and ‘Most Beautiful Girl in the World’ renditions. Alas, maybe the Grammys will cover that.

All in all, great show BET. I expected nothing less.



I strongly believe BET has just delivered its most powerful BET Awards ceremony in a very long time. And the reaction that multiple segments of the show are getting on social media re-affirms this.

First off, they didn’t disappoint when it came to their Prince tribute or should I say tributes. Many a vocal wonder was on deck to honor the Purple One: Erykah Badu, Janelle Monae, Tori Kelly, The Roots, Jennifer Hudson, Bilal, Maxwell, Stevie Wonder and of course Sheila E. They all killed it in their own right with Miss E. – the closest collaborator to Prince of the bunch – elevating the spectacle to the next level. It was wholly refreshing to have a spread out tribute instead of one big segment. A note other shows may want to draw on in the future.

Usher’s “comeback” performance was commendable albeit a little uneventful to my taste. But fortunately it was leaps and bounds over Bryson Tiller and musical twins Future and Desiigner’s offerings which are still dripping amateurism, especially the latter.

I know with certitude that I’m not the only one of the opinion that the true star of the show was the #BlackLivesMatter movement which was embodied by a fiery Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar and an oh-so-eloquent Jesse Williams.

Queen Bey with the help of King Kunta lit the stage with their lyrics and seismic stage presence. Williams’ wowed when insisting that the tide needs to turn NOW – and not “over time” – when it comes to US Civil Rights and Black people.

Ironically, it is tragic events like Prince’s passing, #OscarsSoWhite, and police brutality still being so rife which made this show so poignant.

Hopefully next year, we’ll be able to watch an entertaining show that celebrates how things have evolved for the best.


Do you agree with our points? Who was spot on? Let us know your thoughts on the latest TGJ Roundtable and 2016 BET Awards!

Your thoughts?

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  1. Surprise..(DEC 2013) June 27, 2016


  2. Fancy BISH June 27, 2016

    Black excellence! And don’t ever forget that a BLACK MAN has the biggest selling album of ALL TIME! Yaaas..

  3. BEYSTAN_ SINCE 1997 June 27, 2016

    Beyonce & Kendrick were great and a pleasant surprise!

    The Prince tributes were good especially (Bilal & Janelle Monae… Jennifer you can keep all that damn screaming!

    Jessie…. God bless you for that speech!

    Everybody else was a No No No No No No!

  4. Cinnamon Girl June 27, 2016

    No sensible person is going to take Beyawnce serious about black power when she wears a long straight blond wig on her head, says she wish she were Latina and calls herself “Creole”. Her mother is weird, too. Now I know where Beyawnce gets her dumbness from. Jesse Williams is handsome, well educated, respectable. The whole package. Too bad he’s married and too bad BET had to put that junk called Future on after this class act. The Prince tributes were good but a bit overrated. Sheila He’s performance was O.k. Wasn’t all that. No one can do Prince like Prince. Alicia Keys has fallen off. Her song, ” Fall in” suits her career now

    • RICHIE_RICH June 27, 2016

      Girl just shut up

      • KenyaInFormation June 27, 2016

        Black women’s hair shouldn’t be political although many people try to make it out to be. Beyonce saying she wish she were latina? Might have been dealing with self hate, low self esteem, who hasnt? She clearly has grown as a woman and a black woman. I really dont get why people dont expect people to grow and change as they do. Her mother, well b****, dont yu ever talk about somebody’s mother, that s*** gets your ass kicked.

    • Danzou June 27, 2016

      You’re such an uneducated piece of crap. Where do I start? “Future after this class act” that’s called respectability politics. You obviously didn’t learn anything from the speech if you think future’s performance deters the point of jesse’s message. “She wears a long straight blonde wig” lol white people didn’t invent nor do they own blue eyes and blonde hair. There are Africans still to this day that have blonde hair and blue eyes and no it’s not restricted to light skin blacks. Look it up before you open your thot mouth. It can’t be this hard for you to educate yourself and say something positive.

  5. #TeamTinashe Stan June 27, 2016

    Boring show for me tbh and a lack star power in that room. Complete downgrade show then last years. The Prince tributes were great especially Bilal’s part. Its great to see Maxwell on there to perform his new single. Usher’s performance was his best in a long time excluding the out of breath singing.


  6. © Centurion ::. June 27, 2016

    I loved every moment of the BET awards; from Tori Kelly & Stevie Wonder, Jennifer Hudson, Erykah Badu and The Roots, to Jesse Williams’ POWERFUL speech. I enjoyed everything, except the intro. I didn’t like Beyonce’s performance. It was fake and not genuine. We all know she was there to keep up with this pro-black agenda that has us all fooled.
    There’s just something phony about Beyonce. It’s like she’s been trained and couched within every inch of her life with absolutely nothing to show for. No people skills, no personality, no friends, no creativity, no originality, and no diploma.

    • KenyaInFormation June 27, 2016

      Just like your c** bucket s*** of a mother, albeit with no money.

    • Keri Qween June 27, 2016

      Shes full of s*** Centurion. She didnt care about the bet awards until this year to push her pro black agenda. Shes an opportunist, f*** ha.

      • © Centurion ::. June 27, 2016

        Beyonce is trash ?

    • Lea June 28, 2016

      Rotfl, gul no diploma!

  7. juice June 27, 2016

    I grow tired of seeing critics speak about Usher being stale and needing new creativity when year to year he is exhibiting that spontaneity and creativity that is not being promoted by any other black male R&B artist. From the music, to his dance teams (which are compiled with some of the youngest up and coming dancers and styles of dance), to his fashion and to his choreography, I really feel like people are just looking for an easy out so that they don’t have to be objective when speaking about him. The fact that since 1994 he has been the most relevant African American R&B artist amongst not only his ethnic culture but also amongst all diverse age groups and musical platforms. And yes there can be arguments made on behalf of the other greats like Maxwell and R.Kelly yet while their music is great its impact is being limited to strictly one audience R&B which is mainly comprised by the black culture.

    Meanwhile Usher has two mass audiences that he has to please. 1) HIs original Urban audience (which are mainly fans up to 8701) and 2) His mainstream audience (which was majorly brought on by the massive worldwide success that “Confessions” is). So you almost have two different groups one before Confessions and those Post Confessions. Since the success of Confessions Usher has had to make music that appeals to both audiences. (which is a pressure that only a handful of Black R&B Artists have had to deal with). When Usher wasn’t mindful of that with the release of Here I Stand, which to its core was true R&B, it didn’t resonate as much as it should have with the mainstream audience commercially. Even his original fans who scream “we want R&B” claimed he sounded boring and redundant, which in my opinion could be argued that it was his strongest cohesive album. So then he began to try and find a mesh between the two audiences with Raymond vs Raymond and people still found time to complain and say that the album was too pop-ish. The moral of the story is that the majority of music listeners don’t know what they want to hear and will never be satisfied. “I Don’t Mind” was a buzz single he release so that he could hear his own music in the strip clubs when he went and his fans cried about him trying to fit in yet the song went number 1. But when he released Good Kisser, SCTGITY, Believe Me, Clueless and Chains none of those songs had the commercial success that could allow him to put an album out and it be given a chance to truly be successful. Music isn’t in the same place it used to be and it makes no sense both sonically and financially for Usher to bang his head against a wall when its made of steel. Ask Tank and Tyrese who released great R&B LPs how catering to the true “R&B” fans how thats going for their musical careers.

    • Cinnamon Girl June 27, 2016

      Usher is a class act and a true performer. People who say he’s boring just can’t relate to real talent

    • Coolness June 27, 2016

      I agree completely. Especially the argument made for Here I Stand. People don’t understand how CLEAN he was vocally he was on that album. Not that he hasn’t shown improvement since then but if 8701 was when he found his voice, then Confessions and subsequently, HIS were when he truly came into his own as a vocalist. I don’t see what was so stale about dancing last night because he has a certain finesse when that none of these young boys have. People bashed him for singing live whilst dancing but will be the first to hail Chris as greatest male performer when all he does is lip to the studio track. If Usher were to lip sync too I’m sure his performances would be flaw-free. I don’t like that No Limit song but Usher is damned if he do, damned if he don’t at this point.

  8. Mark jones June 27, 2016

    I wish we stop downplaying janelle Monse performance. That was levels she was giving you and range… Many if half of them couldn’t pull that off. Pure excellence . Come thatgrapejuice give The Electric Lady credit … She showed her A$$ ……???

  9. SWISH June 27, 2016

    Jessie’s speech was the highlight of the show. Hopefully this can be a post where commentsthat add value to the conversation about the awards are posted instead of sissies arguing over bey, rih, and whoever else. The world is way bigger than those women.

    • Danzou June 27, 2016

      Lol they’re gonna argue like every other day. Spewing uneducated negativity because they’re all bitter and gay. If any of these thots were happy their comments would reflect it and I don’t want to hear that sorry “I troll for fun” excuse. You couldn’t possibly be happy if you troll to entertain yourself.

    • Keri Qween June 27, 2016

      I agree. Jessie was the highlight. His words were true and from the heart and not for attention and to fit in like some artists do.

  10. Dion June 27, 2016

    YALL COULD OF KEPT ALICIA KEYS AND GAVE US FANTasia to perform her new single “sleepin” that’s my jam…and Janelle she was ok she wasn’t the best

  11. Stephy June 27, 2016

    It was good but was missing some Gospel spirit (imo). I would’ve loved to have heard Mama Karen Clark Sheard come out and anoint that place. My spirit just wasn’t feeling it last night. But, everyone did their thing. No one did horrible or even bad. But, at the same-time no one really blew me away. It was just, neutral & kinda boring. RIP Prince

  12. Keri Qween June 27, 2016

    I agree with Sam about User. I looove him but he was out if breath it took away from an otherwise great performance, great song, great choreography.

    I enjoyed Princes’ tributes! Im sorry Jennifer Hudson is a great singer but that yelling and screaming IS NOT necessary for a song like Purple Rain. I wish she would have tuned it down a bit so the audience could get involved and sing along. I mean that was his signature song! I had to turn my volume down

    • Keri Qween June 27, 2016

      Usher* lol.

  13. Danzou June 27, 2016

    It’s sad that out of the whole show LB’s favorite part was when a light skin man was the center of attention.

    • Career Ender June 27, 2016

      Lol LB is the biggest joke in this blog
      I mean the dude is yet to admit that he’s a dark skinned African who’s not from America

  14. Fatusankoh June 27, 2016

    I agreed with Sam 100 time about queen bey thanks Sam for always telling it as it is I love for that

  15. M El June 27, 2016

    Wack,i turned it after30 minutes,Next

  16. Career Ender June 27, 2016

    I heard the Queen of Earth slayed everything amd everyone as usual

  17. Career Ender June 27, 2016

    What I like the most about BET is that it has more good live singers (Talent)
    No people who sounds like goats or a mulfunctioning auto tune (Fistopher)

  18. Career Ender June 27, 2016

    Anyway I’ll check theis awards tomorrow on you tube

  19. #JACKIE June 27, 2016

    The show was incredibly boring which surprised me. BET Awards are usually on point. Even the hosts were dry.

    • RihNavy June 27, 2016

      As dry as Ciara’s toes, sis?

      • Cinnamon Girl June 27, 2016

        As dry as Beyawnce wigs

      • Annalise June 27, 2016

        As dry as HEara’s artificial no-tuna-having uterus

      • #JACKIE June 27, 2016

        Not a BARRENyonce stan talking about a uterus.

      • Annalise June 27, 2016

        NOT a PENĮSara stan talking about genitals

  20. HailBeysus June 27, 2016

    LegendYonce slayed once again! Current Queen of Tours, Queen of #1 album debuts, Queen of Media!, Queen of my LIFE, Queen of Grammys, Queen of BET and soon to be Queen of VMA’s kiii!!! QUEEN OF EVERYTHING!!! When will your favs!?!?!?

    • HailBeysus June 27, 2016

      Oh and ST is getting closer to being on BB200 for 3 straight year’s ????

  21. Sarah June 27, 2016

    Alicia Keys performance was DOPE. Not everyone can do what she did. She doesnt need a hit at this point…she just proved she is an amazing musician/artist.

  22. UR June 28, 2016

    Make you say uhhh… Usher done killed it! B******!

  23. s.a June 28, 2016

    usher’s performance wasnt’t that good but he killed it on the last part. Reminded me of p.diddy and bust rhymes when they performed at the mtv vmas 2002.

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