BET Ex­pe­ri­ence a feast for fans

The cel­e­bra­tion of black mu­sic in­cludes a re­union of N. W. A

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Ger­rick D. Kennedy

An am­bi­tious four- day cel­e­bra­tion of black mu­sic led to Sun­day’s awards.

By the time the BET Awards went live from the Mi­crosoft Theater at L. A. Live on Sun­day night, more than 150,000 fans had al­ready got­ten a taste of the event through the net­work’s four- day BET Ex­pe­ri­ence.

Launched in 2012 to ex­pand the au­di­ence for the net­work’s highly rated awards show and of­fer other pro­gram­ming for R& B and hip- hop fans, the BET Ex­pe­ri­ence is an am­bi­tious cel­e­bra­tion of black mu­sic.

Con­sider that on Satur­day night, for the first time in two decades, most of the sur­viv­ing mem­bers of the ground­break­ing N. W. A re­united on­stage to per­form some of the records that helped de­fine gangsta rap and put the West Coast on the hip- hop map.

Con­certs, late- night shows, sem­i­nars, celebrity pan­els, fash­ion shows and a sprawl­ing expo at­tracted 152,500 at­ten­dees to tick­eted and free events, a 36% in­crease over last year, ac­cord­ing to fes­ti­val or­ga­niz­ers. BET and An­schutz En­ter­tain­ment Group have re­newed their deal to con­tinue the fes­ti­val through 2018.

Ex­panded to four days this year, things kicked off Thurs­day with a sold- out stand- up gig at Sta­ples Cen­ter by co­me­dian and ac­tor Kevin Hart.

Hart proved why he’s one of com­edy’s big­gest stars

Given the de­mand for to­day’s latest it la­bel and sta­tus ac­ces­sories, and the con­stant push by media to­ward the next must- have pur­chase, a f ilm that ap­proaches cloth­ing from a time­less point of view is a welcome respite from the ex­haust­ing cy­cle of trends that fuel the fash­ion in­dus­try.

“Fresh Dressed,” a doc­u­men­tary ex­am­in­ing hiphop’s inf lu­ence on fash­ion, for­goes to­day’s fre­quently asked ques­tion of “Who are you wear­ing?” and in­stead com­pellingly ex­plores the why of what we wear.

Di­rected by Sacha Jenk­ins, the f ilm is as rhyth­mic and hyp­notic as the old­school hip- hop- heavy sound­track that sup­ports it. With its high- pro­file in­ter­views with Nas, Kanye West and Sean Combs, as well as street- wear cloth­ing pioneers Carl Jones, co- founder of Cross Colours, and Day­mond John, co- founder of FUBU, the movie is as en­ter­tain­ing as it is ed­u­ca­tional. Its con­sis­tent pulse and strong his­toric arc should keep even non­fash­ion fans en­gaged for the en­tire 83 min­utes.

Start­ing with the sig­nif­i­cance of Sun­day- best cloth- ing dur­ing the slav­ery era, to the pres­ence of street gangs in the Bronx and the rise of rap and hip- hop mu­sic, which ar­guably re­mains the strong­est inf lu­ence on cur­rent fash­ion, con­sid­er­ing the ubiq­ui­tous­ness of crisp, white, sneaker- clad feet, the film cap­tures the sto­ries be­hind how fash­ion — from the latest sneak­ers to the pop­u­lar­ity of Polo Ralph Lau­ren and Louis Vuit­ton — within African Amer­i­can cul­ture came to be.

“Some­one said to me, ‘ Your clothes are your wings,’ ” rap­per Nas says in “Fresh Dressed.” “So you know if you want to f ly, you’re go­ing to put on some­thing nice. … Once we put it on, it’s a whole dif­fer­ent story. We take it to the next level.”

That next level, whether shell toe Adi­das with starched laces or a cus­tom­made Gucci logo jacket by Har­lem haute cou­turier Dap­per Dan, was the re­sult of cre­at­ing a unique and fresh im­age that mir­rored the free- f low­ing sound of hip- hop and acted as an ex­pres­sion of in­ner- city life.

“Fresh Dressed” is a re­fresh­ing and thor­oughly en­gag­ing re­minder that the most en­dur­ing and in­ter­est­ing fash­ion is not just sim­ply about the cloth­ing but more about the peo­ple wear­ing it, where they’ve been and where they want to go.

Luis Sinco Los An­ge­les Times


per­forms at Sta­ples Cen­ter on Satur­day as part of the BET Ex­pe­ri­ence, which of­fered con­certs, sem­i­nars, pan­els, fash­ion shows and an expo.

Jay Blakes­berg I nvision f or t he Grate­ful Dead

TREY ANAS­TA­SIO, left, and Phil Lesh jam away as the re­united Grate­ful Dead per­forms in Santa Clara.

Jamel Shabazz Sa­muel Gold­wyn Fil ms

CLAS­SIC street style in mid-’ 80s Brook­lyn: gold, Gucci and more. It’s all part of “Fresh Dressed.”

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