Don’t miss these acts at this year’s fest

Los Angeles Times - - POP & HISS - MIKAEL WOOD POP MU­SIC CRITIC mikael.wood@la­times.com Twit­ter: @mikael­wood

Over the last few years, the an­nual BET Awards has made an im­plicit ar­gu­ment that the mu­sic awards show — of­ten thought of in strictly hype-re­lated terms — can serve as a vi­able space for the ex­pres­sion of pro­gres­sive val­ues. In 2015 hosts Tracee El­lis Ross and An­thony Anderson opened the pro­duc­tion with a so­phis­ti­cated comedic bit about African Amer­i­cans’ experience in show busi­ness. And last year ac­tor Jesse Wil­liams ac­cepted the cable net­work’s Hu­man­i­tar­ian Award with a fiery but com­posed speech about po­lice vi­o­lence that went well be­yond li­mou­sine-lib­eral plat­i­tudes.

This year’s show, set to air Sun­day night from the Mi­crosoft The­ater in down­town Los Angeles, prom­ises to touch on sim­i­lar is­sues. Host­ing will be Les­lie Jones, the ac­tress and co­me­dian who en­dured a hideous at­tack last year on so­cial me­dia as a re­sult of — well, it never seemed quite clear. Be­ing black and fe­male? What­ever the os­ten­si­ble cause, Jones is sure to dig into Amer­ica’s grow­ing tra­di­tion of ha­tred with her usual sharp wit.

Yet at a mo­ment when many fes­ti­val or­ga­niz­ers seem ea­ger to of­fer the lure of es­capism, BET isn’t lim­it­ing this po­lit­i­cal en­gage­ment to its flag­ship awards show. It’s also mak­ing room for ac­tivism in the BET Experience, the sur­round­ing multi-day con­fab now in its fifth year that will bring con­certs, screen­ings and panel dis­cus­sions to L.A. Live from Thurs­day to Sun­day.

Among the of­fer­ings with an eye on the out­side world are “Keep­ing Us Locked,” a round­table on prison re­form fea­tur­ing State’s At­tor­ney for Bal­ti­more Mar­i­lyn J. Mosby and rap­per Pusha T; a talk by di­rec­tor Ava DuVer­nay, who’s been ac­tive in ef­forts to rec­tify the lack of op­por­tu­nity for women in Hol­ly­wood; and a pre­sen­ta­tion by Fac­ing Ad­dic­tion, a non­profit group that seeks to “bring to­gether the best re­sources in the field in or­der to re­duce the hu­man and so­cial costs of ad­dic­tion,” ac­cord­ing to its web­site.

The re­sult is one of the more im­por­tant cul­tural oc­ca­sions of the year, with a real sense of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween art and so­ci­ety — and, of course, a real aware­ness of the su­per­stars re­quired to at­tract at­ten­tion to less-thanglam­orous top­ics. With that in mind, here are five acts to see at this week­end’s BET Experience.

FRI­DAY DJ Khaled & Friends | Sta­ples Cen­ter

This cheer­ful hip-hop bon vi­vant is ac­cus­tomed to win­ning — it’s ba­si­cally his brand. But DJ Khaled weath­ered an un­usual loss at last week­end’s Elec­tric Daisy Car­ni­val in Las Ve­gas, where he was re­port­edly booed off­stage fol­low­ing a va­ri­ety of tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties. So ex­pect the well-con­nected DJ to pull out all the stops (and ar­range any num­ber of splashy cameos) to get back on top here. Keyshia Cole | The Novo

Of the many R&B singers work­ing in the shadow of Mary J. Blige, Cole may come clos­est to chan­nel­ing the mas­ter’s ag­grieved in­ten­sity.

SATUR­DAY Kyle | L.A. Con­ven­tion Cen­ter

A young rap­per from not-ex­actly-pop­ping Ven­tura, Kyle broke out last year with “iSpy,” his bouncy duet with Lil Yachty in which the two mull over what passes for ro­mance in the age of so­cial me­dia.

Rae Srem­murd | Sta­ples Cen­ter

Af­ter mak­ing a huge splash with “Black Bea­tles,” their vi­ral 2016 smash, this rowdy brother duo has been eclipsed in re­cent months by the rise of Mi­gos, another South­ern hiphop out­fit that speaks flu­ent In­ter­net. But Rae Srem­murd re­mains a thrill on­stage, and this one will of­fer plenty of room to throw down.

SUN­DAY 2 Chainz | The Novo

“Pretty Girls Like Trap Mu­sic” is the ti­tle of this At­lanta rap­per’s brand-new al­bum, which tells you plenty about 2 Chainz’s at­ti­tude: more play­ful than tough, de­ter­mined to charm, not turn off.

Richard Drew As­so­ci­ated Press

DJ KHALED is per­form­ing Fri­day at Sta­ples. He might have some­thing to prove af­ter Las Ve­gas show.

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