BET Experience a feast for fans
The celebration of black music includes a reunion of N. W. A
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.
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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.
performs at Staples Center on Saturday as part of the BET Experience, which offered concerts, seminars, panels, fashion shows and an expo.
TREY ANASTASIO, left, and Phil Lesh jam away as the reunited Grateful Dead performs in Santa Clara.
CLASSIC street style in mid-’ 80s Brooklyn: gold, Gucci and more. It’s all part of “Fresh Dressed.”