In anticipation the BET Awards this weekend, every year the network gears up for its award show with a multi-day BET Experience at L.A. Live in Downtown Los Angeles, California.
Chris Brown, SZA, Teyena Taylor and Ella Mai took the stage at Staples Center Friday night (June 22) to celebrate R&B and hip-hop’s finest in the music industry.
Fans eagerly flocked to L.A. Live to watch a number passionate R&B acts bring soul to the City Angels, where the nearly filled venue promptly and proudly endorsed the artists with unconditional adoration.
Emerging singer Ella Mai made her way to the stage, bringing out Ty Dolla $ign for their collaboration “She Don’t” and performing her hit single that skyrocketed her career, “Boo’d Up.” A part her was just as starstruck as the fans that sang along to her songs at the concert revealing, “I grew up watching BET my whole life, so it’s crazy to be here.”
SZA subsequently followed her up as the second act the night and sounded more exquisite than ever (in spite her potentially permanently damaged vocals). The TDE label member’s falsetto was intact while performing jams from her debut album Ctrl including “Drew Barrymore,” “Love Galore,” The Weekend” and “Doves in the Wind” featuring Kendrick Lamar. The background visuals were very much similar to the ones she displayed at the TDE Championship Tour.
Before performing “Normal Girl,” the singer got candid while addressing the teenagers in the room. She joyously yelled, “Anybody in high school in here? Word. Are you having a good time in high school? I had a trash time. I was so awkward! I wrote this song about wanting to be normal.” If SZA didn’t strike a chord in one’s heart that night, it's hard to see what would, as her authenticity and charisma encourage one to reflect on their own insecurities in a way she so openly, relatably addresses in the tune.
Leaving the venue on a high note, she showed her unconditional gratitude to the crowd. “Thank you L.A. for all the f–king energy. You have mine,” she said as she departed the stage.
Just moments later, Chris Brown took the stage, arriving to an arena screaming females ready to watch him effortlessly prance around the stage. The pace his set moved so rapidly that it was evident that Brown was well aware he's released a number hit songs throughout the years, and wanted to do them justice by performing as much them as he possibly could.
From his impeccable dance numbers to his vocal control and ensemble changes, Brown put on a high-energy show to say the least. He performed a medley hits including “Wall to Wall,” “Liquor,” “Back to Sleep” and “Questions.” In between songs, he incorporated Genuwine’s “Pony” and Tupac’s “California Love.” The smooth singer didn’t say much throughout the night, but when he introduced the legendary West Coast rapper’s anthem, he teased it saying, “Let’s play that old school.” Appropriately placed for the L.A. crowd, he returned to his set fan favorites continuing with “Juicy Booty” featuring Jhené Aiko and R. Kelly.
The 29-year-old triple threat took f his blue jacket and remained shirtless for the latter half the show. As he transitioned out his most recent work, he saved some his classics for the grand finale, opting to belt his heart out to the 2005 single, “Yo (Excuse Me Miss)” and “Loyal.” After an hour-long set nonstop action, Brown simply thanked the audience and made his exit.
As people departed from the Staples Center Friday night following Brown's dynamic set, Teyana Taylor graced the stage for a sexy short set. She properly introduced herself by saying, “I’m wondering where my album is, too.” Ironically enough, her latest effort, K.T.S.E., appeared on steaming services Saturday morning, the last a set Kanye West’s G.O.O.D releases.
With that said, Taylor was left to perform old songs, smoothly crooning to her jams “Do Not Disturb” and “Maybe” featuring Pusha T and Yo Gotti. While it may have not been her ideal set, she still put on a respectable show for all who decided to stay for the fan experience.