SOUTH BEACH, Miami — The BET Hip Hop Awards 2017 took over South Beach this weekend, and the state of hip-hop has certainly evolved.
Rap has long been synonymous with misogynistic lyrics and music videos, but now—for the first time in 19 years—a female solo MC sits atop the Billboard charts. Yes, Cardi B and her hit single “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves)” are currently No. 1, making her the first female rapper to top the charts with a solo track since Lauryn Hill’s 1998 tune “Doo Wop (That Thing).” Taylor Swift couldn’t fuck with her if she wanted to.
“There was a point in time where, no offense, EDM was just running the charts. Now you have records like Cardi B that’s number one. We poppin’ right now. Hip-hop is boomin’!” producer DJ Nasty told The Daily Beast.
“Hip-hop is slowly turning back to good music. We dancing, we having fun,” offered Empire actress and rapper Bre-Z. “There are powerful messages being spread [too]. As artist, as creators, whatever we say go. We move the culture, we curate the culture, so you know if we say no, everybody else is saying no.”
Those “powerful messages” are addressing many areas surrounding America’s divided state, from Black Lives Matter to the chaotic administration of President Donald Trump.
And at the BET Hip Hop Awards (airing on BET Oct. 10), rap legends like Fat Joe and others took shots at President Trump during the show’s cypher session. The regular refrain of “Fuck Trump” and references connecting the president to the KKK were greeted with loud applause at The Fillmore Miami Beach.
Featured cypher rapper Cozz told The Daily Beast, “Dude’s a nut. He definitely shouldn’t be in office.”
Furthermore, the artists all seemed to share the same sentiments concerning the president’s response to the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
“That man out there throwing paper towels. He ought to be ashamed of himself,” rap newcomer Tee Grizzley said.
“We have to be more responsive when it comes to tragic events. That should be number one,” DJ Nasty added.
If only President Trump could have followed the example set by rapper Trae tha Truth, who personally helped rescue his fellow Houstonians by boat right after Hurricane Harvey hit. “I’m not going to wait on [Trump]. I’m going out there to do it myself,” he said.
The night’s attitude was best summed up by Bre-Z. “[Trump’s] done everything he can to fuck it up. I don’t know at this point. I don’t know where it’s going with him,” she says. “I just miss Obama. He’s a good guy. He is a great man. Family man. Spiritual man. A believer of god. A believer of the people, and we need that. Being U.S. president, you have to lead by example.”