SZA Sang in Italicized Times New Roman, While Ella Mai Made Thugs Sway at 2018’s BET Experience

SZA performs at 2018 BET Experience Staples Center Concert at L.A. Live on June 22, 2018, in Los Angeles.
Photo: Ser Baffo (Getty Images for BET)

The 2018 BET Awards weekend is well underway, and just as ethnic as I presumed it would be! I hopped off the plane at LAX (no Miley) and was greeted with a vast array of lace fronts, Gucci track suits, and about four of your cousins in do-rags and roller sets.

It felt welcoming.

The weekend is jam-packed with events that celebrate our culture and allow us to network while listening to many of our favorite Negro spirituals, like “Knuck if You Buck.”


On Friday night, I attended my first event of BETX, aka the BET Experience, which was a live concert featuring SZA, Ella Mai and your problematic fave, Chris Brown. I had been up since 3:30 a.m. and had taken a six-hour flight, and probably should have been asleep, but who could pass up VIP-suite tickets? I’ll sleep when I’m dead. Isn’t that what the young kids say?

While at the concert, I was enlightened that your favorite thug’s song “Boo’d Up” is not sung by Rihanna but by platinum artist Ella Mai. When she dropped the beat of the song. every grown man in the venue started harmonizing and swaying left and right. There’s nothing more entertaining than watching a man strip down his fragile masculinity and just become one with the music.


Ella performed a bevy of other tracks that I was not familiar with and now have to search for on Apple Music so that I, too, can know what the young kids are listening to these days. [Editor’s note: Corey, you are a young kid! You are 3o!]

SZA performs at 2018 BET Experience Staples Center Concert at L.A. Live on June 22, 2018, in Los Angeles.
Photo: Earl Gibson III (Getty Images for BET)

To this black-ass day, SZA is the only person I know who can give me my life by singing in italicized Times New Roman.

It’s a skill, to be honest.

I don’t know what this performance means for her alleged vocal damage, but I still swayed back and forth when she got onstage and performed every single solitary track from her recent album Ctrl. SZA got on that stage and sang for her life as if RuPaul were backstage holding the fate of her career in his hands. I like to think that Ru would’ve kept her on for another episode but reminded her not to fuck it up.


The performance ended with a question that, to this day, still speaks to my soul on a spiritual level: “WHY YOU BOTHERING ME WHEN YOU KNOW YOU DON’T WANT ME?!” This is a question that I am still searching for an answer to; I think it’ll probably take a village and a few shots of whiskey to figure it out.

Finally, it was time for your problematic fave to hit the stage, and I prayed that he would keep some semblance of common sense and behave himself at the venue. Y’all know Christopher doesn’t have a good track record at awards shows.


He may not have brought much color to the stage with his skin, but he def brought color and a wow factor with all of the colorful lights and stage theatrics during his performance. If there’s one thing Christopher is good for, it’s giving you a solid eight-count with great breath control while singing all of his hits. Thank God he performed his old-school tracks, because I have to admit that I did not commit the time needed to listen to his latest project, which houses 50 million new songs. Who has the time?!

The energy in the room was electric and gave each performer the motivation they needed to perform every single song in their musical arsenal. All in all, I would give the night a smooth 9.5. I took off a half-point because BET had a dish that involved hot Cheetos and meatballs.


Some things are just entirely too ethnic for even my palate.

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About the author

Corey Townsend

Chief Beyoncé Content Officer @ TheRoot. I aspire to be as steadfast & unmovable as Solange's wig. Former President of Hogwart's Black Student Union.