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Beats Per Millennium - Hip Hop Honors Recap

Hip Hop Honors Recap

VH1 aired the 5th Annual Hip Hop Honors award last night. The show was taped last Thursday at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom. It featured a staggering lineup of performing artists who showed up to honor some of rap’s most influential legends: Cypress Hill, De La Soul, Slick Rick, Too $hort, and Naughty by Nature. On top of that, this year’s show was hosted by the (almost) always hilarious Tracy Morgan, aka Brian Fellow.

The following is a minute-by-minute analysis of the festivities.

Game on. Hip Hop Honors has established itself as the premiere annual award show in the genre. It has the advantage of not ending in violence or silliness, the way events like The Source Awards tend to do.

As previously stated, I love Tracy Morgan. But this opening sort-of-a-sketch thing is overkill. The whole idea is Tracy Morgan running for president and it seems like it is going to be a recurring theme throughout the show. I’m cool with that but we are five minutes in and we have not gotten into the show yet. And isn’t the whole Such-and-Such Celebrity For President thing becoming a bit of a cliché? How am I going to choose between Tracy Morgan and Murs at the ballot? Luckily 50 Cent didn’t get the memo on what the hell he’s doing so “50 For President” is dropping in December.

Biz Markie is the DJ.

Back to Tracy Morgan and this whole Hip Hop President jive. I would gladly have traded all this goofiness for an 8-minute opening monologue. This is all scripted and boring.

Cypress Hill is the first honoree. Their video is well-made, informative, and a perfect length (about three minutes.)

Yes, Gym Class Heroes are covering Cypress Hill’s greatest hits. In a sense I get that. They are known for their genre-bending, and mainstreaming of hip hop, making it accessible to rock kids, in much the same way Cypress Hill did. But still…Gym Class Heroes?

Cypress Hill burst on to the stage during “Insane in the Brain.” I guess they were getting tired of hearing Gym Class Heroes cover their songs (though GCH’s covers were admittedly pretty honest.) They finish the song and then play “Rock Superstar” with a whole bunch of guitars and strobes and stuff. It’s bananas.

The De La Soul tribute is a star-studded affair. Prince Paul is on the wheels of steel and you –name-it is on the mic. Mos Def and Chuck D are having a good time with “Stakes Is High” and Flavor Flav is running all over the place. And damn is it nice to hear Cee-Lo rap!

De La Soul can rock any house in the world and the Hammerstein Ballroom is no exception. They have the crowd eating out of their hands. Everybody is up, every hand in the air. And then Q-Tip showed up for “Buddy.” Why he couldn’t have done that at Rock the Bells I don’t understand…he was in the building and everything.

Oh good. New episodes of “Celebrity Rehab” with Dr. Drew. I was just thinking the other day that I am not being kept up-to-date enough on which celebrities are in rehab. Oh well…I guess Hip Hop week can’t last forever.

Who better than Michael Strahan to pay tribute to Slick Rick? Not sure the connection there, but it works for me. “(Slick Rick’s music) even had a little porn. Nothing wrong with that.” Good thing you are retired, Mike. You know how the NFL feels about maintaining its supposed G-rated image.

Slick Rick is being covered by some great MC’s, including an eye-patch-clad Busta Rhymes. That brought a big smile to the Ruler’s face. But maybe the best moment of the night so far was Ghostface Killah, an expert storyteller himself, leading the crowd through a rollicking sing-along of “Ladi Dadi.” But I still don’t see how you can do a proper Slick Rick tribute without Snoop.

Check the “Ladi Dadi” thing. The best moment of the night is now Slick Rick performing “Children’s Story” with an elaborate stage set-up featuring a throne, goofy dancers dressed like little kids in pajamas, and a kitty. And actors acting out the story. Can someone please put up the money for Slick Rick to put on a big budget world tour? Kanye…I’m looking at you.

The Isaac Hayes tribute was everything that a hip hop tribute to a soul legend should have been. I was a little worried coming in that they would have a hard time making it relevant but they didn’t. The Roots were the backing band and while they played some of Hayes’ classic tracks, a slew of rap greats through down some of the classic rap verses that have played over his samples, including “Stick Me For My Paper” and “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos.” It was a great way to honor a legend, while educating a younger generation on the role his music played in rap.

So the Truth people have a new (new?) ad out where a bunch of kids and dolls do a sing-and-dance number about wife-beating. As a non-smoker I just don’t know what to think.

“Chocolate News” could go either way.

I am very disappointed in Tracy Morgan tonight. All he’s done is these spoofs where he talks about his campaign to people on a bus. Very unoriginal and dry. For shame.

Well ain’t that some shit…”This station is participating in a monthly test of the Illinois Emergency Alert System.” Right in the middle of the Too $hort video. Weak.

Well at least the test was, umm, short. Speaking of short….what the hell kind of short straw did Too $hort draw that he got to be honored by Kid Rock? That’s okay…Bun B came out and totally redeemed him.

11:30 S
So I guess Kid Rock got his start opening for Too $hort. So that explains that. Too $hort brought Scarface along for his performance. The performance was good. Very straight-forward compared to some of the more elaborate moments of the show (ahem…Slick Rick.)

Big Boi makes an appearance, performing “O.P.P.” Wyclef is playing a guitar for some reason. Juelz Santana was out there too. All in all, the Naughty by Nature tribute had some great talent but it was short and not a very fitting tribute. They seemed to be doing their own thing more than anything.

Wow…I see why they saved Naughty by Nature for last. It’s easy to forget about these guys because they haven’t done ANYTHING in so long…but they can still bring it on the stage. I’d really like to see them tour. They may not be a bad addition to Rock the Bells 2009.

Okay…seven minutes to go and Tracy Morgan finally made me laugh.

Lady on Bus: What would you do about the situation in South America?
TM: I’d have Wyclef do something. He’s my Secretary of Knowing About All That Crap.

I am no huge fan of VH1, but I need to give them their dues for the Hip Hop Honors show and for the week of rap-centered programming that led up to it. For five years in a row now they have pulled off more classy and entertaining hip hop programming in this one week than BET manages all year. Just next year…if you sign a really funny host, let him host.

Posted by Mike Denslow at Oct 07, 2008 02:18 PM