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Chris Brown crying, one finger in the air at the 2010 BET Awards

Chris Brown Crying at the BET Awards? I Say, Staged.. but Genuine

Last night’s BET Awards was one of the best shows they’ve put on in years. As far as talking points, at the top of the list is Chris Brown crying during “Man in the Mirror;” part of his Michael Jackson tribute performance. Was Chris Brown having a genuine moment? I believe it was genuine, but also planned.

You could argue that the lyrics to “Man in the Mirror” sproughted his tears, but for me it was just too perfect of a snapshot. Chris Brown was banned from last year’s award show and has apologized for the incident with Rihanna to no avail. The public’s feeling that he can’t kick? Chris Brown is sorry, sorry that his career has been stuck on the corner of Shyt Street and Stain Avenue ever since he five pieced her.

Chris Brown pays tribute to Michael Jackson at the 2010 BET Awards

So last night, Chris Brown had the opportunity to get back onstage, in front of his fans and do what he does best - some of that singing and dancing. The thinking before showtime had to be: it’s time to go for broke. It’s not like Chris doesn’t have acting skills. So he dug deep and let everyone know, for the last time, he is genuinely sorry for what happened… “I’m starting with the man in the mirror! I’m asking him to change his ways.. “

Again, though planned, I believe the emotion behind it was genuine.

Chris Brown crying during tribute to Michael Jackson at the 2010 BET Awards

As soon as his tears started to flow - everyone in the audience and across the country - it felt like, finally, the true acknowledgement of his mistake had been realized and instantly forgiven. “Aww, look at that. Yes, Chris Brown, we forgive you.” We’ll see how that translates financially to his future endeavors. Chris Brown has a part in the upcoming movie Takers and undoubtedly new music is on the way. Barring any dumb comments or bowtied fashion bloopers, there will be no more begging for radio airplay.

In case you didn’t see it, here’s the clip..

Chris Brown is back.

John Wall at Madison Square Garden for the 2010 NBA draft

Ask a 2010 NBA Rookie: First Paycheck? House, Car, or Nothing

Tonight at Madison Square Garden, 60 childhood dreams will be realized at the 2010 NBA draft. For a minute, let’s put aside the chance they have to play basketball on a professional level, and talk about the twin benefit: someone is about to get paid! Financially, becoming a professional athlete forever changes the lifestyle of a few, and gives a brief glimpse of an ‘upgraded’ lifestyle to others.
Yes, it could brief. If you don’t manage your money, it will find a home in all kinds of unproductive places: newly extended family and entourage support, bad investments - both personal and Madoff. It’s not called the NBA lottery for nothing, it’s just like hitting one, with the exact same concerns.

Let’s not get all Suzie Orman on the first night. There is some fun (and needs) to be had with a freshly stacked bank account.

Skeets and Tas of The Basketball Jones asked a handful of NBA rookies what they are going to do with their first paycheck. I guess the answer is the same every year, because they bet it would be: house, car, or nothing. The rooks fell right into the pattern.

Check it out there - Draft ‘10: NBA rookies play new game show

Jay-Z, all black everything, performing at 2010 Bonarroo music festival

Jay-Z “On to the Next” @ Bonnaroo + “Run This Town” w/ Kanye West

Life check: What did you do last weekend? If you were the, semi-disputed, best rapper alive, your schedule would have included flights to three cities on two continents, and one change of ‘showtime’ clothes between places.

On Friday, Jay-Z was in England at The Isle of Wight festival. In front of a massive crowd, he performed “Run This Town.” From the start, it was obvious Rihanna wasn’t coming out to croon the chorus, but Kanye West made a surprise appearance that drove everyone bonkers.

Kanye’s gonna do well with that Good Ass Job.

On Saturday, Jay-Z was back in the US, in Manchester, Tennessee, performing at the Bonnaroo music festival. In this clip he performs “On To the Next.” Wonder if he has another album in him?

That intro says it all..

Finally, on Sunday, Jay-Z was back in NYC for the Tony Awards. Switched it up to a tux, so relaxed you would never think he had just performed at two huge concerts.

Jay-Z, Beyonce, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith at the 2010 Tony awards

Jay-Z hoped to pick up a few awards for Fela!, the play he co-produced with Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith.

Fela! was a winner, it came away with three statues. Truth be told, Bill T. Jones is the creative genius behind the whole thing.

I saw Fela 2x it really deserves a blurb of its own, but if you haven’t had the chance to see it, the time and cash is worth the experience.

Jaden Smith signs autographs at Karate Kid premiere

Jaden Smith, The Karate Kid Kicks The A-Team Where it Hurts

The Karate Kid put a roundhouse on The A-Team this weekend, taking in $56 million over three days. Will Smith only has two movies with bigger first weekend numbers: Hancock and I Am Legend. Jackie Chan played a part in attracting movie goers; Taraji P. Henson was a bonus for some; but let’s just call Jaden Smith the start of a new generation of Hollywood superstars.

Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith, Jaden, Willow, Trey and Jackie Chan at Karate Kid premiere

The Karate Kid was produced by Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith, which got a smirk by some in Hollywood who thought the Smiths were doing it just so Jaden could play the starring role. Correct, but it was the right move. The Karate Kid’s production cost was $40 million and they got it back with change; doubling Sony’s expectations. In contrast, The A-Team cost $110 million and barely covered with $26 million over the weekend (it’s only downhill after that.) Even more perspective, Get Him to the Greek, with Diddy, Jonah Hill, and Russell Brand, cost $40 million and in its second week is only at $36 million.

Jaden and Willow Smith get their Hollywood on at the Karate Kid premiere

With this kind of success, there’s no doubt there will be a Karate Kid sequel. I’m thinking little Willow Smith joins her brother for a kid friendly version of Kick Ass.

In case you missed it, here is Jaden Smith, last Thursday on Late Night with David Letterman.

Lady Gaga in the opening scene of Alejandro

Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro” Video: a Combination of Cinema and Theater

Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro” video debuted yesterday, not surprisingly,  a look around the net finds everyone talking about the hidden messages in the imagery.. “An homage to German moroseness? A tribute to the Illuminati? An attack on the Catholic Church?” Some are simply complaining that it isn’t as fun and colorful as “Telephone.” You know, this is different, not what I’m used to. I hate her now. Regardless of the answers, those are the types of remarks that will never be directed at this year’s big Grammy winner, Taylor Swift. Yes, I’m still in disbelief (and apparently, salty) that Lady Gaga was so overlooked.

Videos like this are why she should have walked away with an armful of statues.

Not a fan of gyrating, half-naked men, but overall the video feels like an evolutionary step in her career. Lady Gaga’s look towards the end is as ‘grown up’ that I’ve seen her; and proves she can be and do more than dress in wacky outfits.

Lady Gaga all grown up in Alejandro video

Or maybe she’s just doing a great Madonna impression. The video’s director, Steven Klein, has worked with Madonna, it’s not a stretch that he’d sprinkle her style in the video. Steven Klein spoke to MTV about the vision behind “Alejandro” and said that’s not the case.

Steven Klein in a leather jacket, with glass of wine in hand

“I was not thinking in terms [of influences.] I saw it more as a combination of cinema and theater,” [It is] about a woman’s desire to resurrect a dead love and who can not face the brutality of her present situation. The pain of living without your true love.”

Erykah Badu singing at Roseland, black hat and jacket

Erykah Badu and Janelle Monae Rock Roseland.. in Sweatpants?

Last night, Erykah Badu brought her “Out My Mind, Just in Time” tour to Roseland in NYC. All respects to Erykah Badu, I was really there because of her opening act - Janelle Monae was on the bill. I wanted to witness Janelle Monae live. So far, ArchAndroid is the best album of the year; the fact that no one seems to be buying it is another story. Questlove was the DJ for the night. When I walked in the door, I knew I had entered a true music zone, Questlove was playing the instrumental that Double Trouble rhymes over in Wild Style. You see, I lost 97% of you already. Questlove dubbed his set “A Lesson in Hip-Hop” and he truly dug deep, cueing up endless dusty albums, blended into the songs that sampled them. I got schooled, had no idea the flute in Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin” came from an Egyptian record, but considering it was produced by Timbaland - not surprised.

Questlove kept the growing crowd buzzing for a 45 minute set. Then the lights dropped, hooded persons crept on stage, one of them spoke some carnival barker banter and Janelle Monae drifted out to “Suite II Overture”, the opening track of her album, and just like the album, she cruised through the first four songs in smashing style. We’re talking live instrumentation, pink and blue lights swishing across the stage and Janelle Monae animatedly twisting and dancing, completely involved in the performance. With her unique look, some people miss her real selling points - the girl’s an artist and she can flat out sing.

She demonstrated that halfway through her set, the lights go out to a single spotlight, accompanied by an electric guitar player (who looked like Andre 3000), she stood on a chair to sing “Smile.” Oh here it is.. someone posted the video..

Don’t think this was a low-energy show.  That was the take a breath moment. She followed that with what should be her next single, “Cold World,” topped off with “Tightrope.”

The best part was how she ended: after jumping in the crowd for some crowd surfing, Janelle Monae was lifted back to the stage and just walked off. No thank you. No see you later. The band was still playing and she just stepped. Ha. It was the best.

What about Erykah Badu?

After a 40 minute break between acts - Questlove came back out and played for 20 minutes, then we watched stage hands set up for Erykah Badu and waited another 20 minutes - the place was even more packed and excited then it was before. It was clear who the headliner was.

The first sign of life was on a screen, bizarrely showing an Erykah Badu and Lil Wayne video - yes, there were groans. Finally, Erykah Badu strolled out in a black top hat and a black raincoat. Throughout her set, she sipped tea and played musical director, pulling up songs on a Mac. What I wondered was what she was wearing underneath that coat. It looked like the obvious big costume change to come later in the show. What a letdown that was.

Erykah Badu eventually opened her coat and revealed.. yellow sweat pants with a matching top. Oh, and a nameplate. Seriously, I get her not wanting to play the sex it up for sales game, but those sweat pants looked cheap/worn, like the kind that have “PINK” spread across the ass. Didn’t see clear pictures floating around, but..

Erykah Badu at Roseland, black coat and hat, yellow sweats

.. in this shot you see them sticking out the bottom of her raincoat.

She also had a bad moment with a drum machine. It was across from the Mac, the band is silent, and apparently, this was her moment to solo. It was some awkward, bad playing. The type of “boom boom bip” any 10 year old would do on Christmas morning. I was embarassed for her, but she wasn’t and went back to it multiple times. She needs to practice. But.. the Roseland sound system is ridiculous (as in good) so there was Erykah Badu banging on the drum machine, a booming bass comes in and the band joined in for a slower, screwed version of “Window Seat.” The video popped up on the screen behind Erykah and the band. The combination of thumping sound and in-the-face taking on of the so-called ‘controversy’ was fantastic.

As the video got close to the moment when she enters the park to disrobe,  Erykah’s back was to the audience. Here it comes.. and the screen blanked out. I half believed she was going to recreate the scene on stage, at least down to bra and panties, but I guess that wouldn’t have been Queen-like. She smiled. Everyone cheered. It was good.
With all of my criticism, I should acknowledge, this is Erykah Badu, her positives are light years ahead of a few mistakes I’m pointing out. Like the pro she is, Erykah Badu, calmly, sang her ass off. Dipping in and out of the new and old, took it to the “Apple Tree,” “On and On,” “Didn’t Cha Know,” and literally let her hair down for a club joint I wasn’t familiar with. The night was capped off with “Love of My Life.”

It was a fantastic show.

There are a lot more “Out My Mind, Just in Time” tour dates. Do not hesitate to catch it if it’s coming to your city.