Downtown Los Angeles was lit with excitement with an evening full of music and entertainment as classic rap icon Doug E. Fresh and 90s Rhythm and Blues group Bell Biv Devo performed all of their combined hits for the first night of the 2015 BET Experience located in LA Live’s Club Nokia.
Going into its third year based in Los Angeles, the BET Experience led by its flagship event the BET Awards Show at the Nokia Theater, has become a huge attraction for tourism and local music lovers. Containing a smorgasbord of tourist friendly events, The BET Experience boasts of huge annual visitors, many. According to the LA Times, in 2014 112,488 fans attended the three-day BET Experience and 11 million tweets were logged during the 2014 BET Awards, a record for the telecast and topping the 2014 Billboard Music Awards, Golden Globes and People’s Choice Awards.
The architect of the Human Beat Box, and the originator of the ‘Dougy’ dance, kicked off the evening at Club Nokia moving into his classic ‘Ladi Dadi’ minus the infamous Slick Rick. Despite the absence of the gold chain flaunting front man, the crowd didn’t seem to mind singing along to every word.
He took the gathered partygoers threw the current hits back to the old school including the staples Singer’s ‘I’ll Take You There’ and ‘Flash Light’ by funk band Parliament. Fresh continued his string of hits with ‘More Bounce to the Ounce’ by Zapp & Roger on to the ‘Humpty Dance’ by rap group Digital Underground.
“If you still got it,” yelled Fresh, as he went from dancing the shoulder popping Smurf to the arm wagging Wop, “what’s the name of this dance?”
‘Candy’ by Cameo made way for the Jackson 5’s ‘Abc’ as Doug took the crowd back to the 60s and forward into the 90s with EU’s ‘Da Butt’ and the once seated audience became that high school jam that we all remember.
“How many remember the black and white TV on top of the black and white TV? I keeps it real”, continued Fresh, as he went from ‘Fat Albert’ to ‘Sanford n’ Son’ to the’ Jefferson’s’ themes and the crowd sung along to every word of ‘Moving on Up.’ Then Fresh went into ‘Cheers’ theme and all sung along to ‘Everybody Knows your Name’ acappella.
“I love the hip hop that we grew up listening to. The reason why is because back then people were not afraid of taking chances” added Fresh going directly into his classic hit the show with all singing along.
Doug has no problem hyping up a crowd and has the repertoire to make it happen. Beat boxing is his specialty and Doug showed his skill moving from the ‘Show’ to Audio 2’s ‘Top Billing’ beat to Lil Vicious’ reggae styling as Lil Vicious performed ‘Freak.’
“As u can see, most definitely we are, fresh!” exclaimed Fresh as he ended his super hyped show and the DJ tried his best to continue the energy, but who can follow such an energetic performer?
Surprising the crowd by jumping on stage during an old school mix, bbd kicked off their show with ‘Do Me Baby.’
Fashion was in effect with each member as the three members sported a different 90s style outfit from baseball cap, logo infused vest, and Boston baseball jersey kicking their feet together doing the ‘Kid n Play’ dance made popular by the ‘House Party’ movie franchise to the crowds delight.
‘I Thought it was Me’ continued their song selection as Bell Biv Devo, known for writing songs that described the teen angst of finding that perfect women that many youth struggled with during the early to late 90s. They understood that their audience still struggled with the same issues that made their songs hits back in the 90s and continue to spark thought and enthusiastic dance moves late in the 2010s, 25 years after the release of their first single, ‘Poison’ in 1990.
Can they rock better than Doug E. Fresh? Doubtful, but the gathered crowd still showed their love for the three ex-New Edition crooners.
“We have a classic from the 90s era and we thank you for making it a classic,” said Michael Bivins, as they went into songs from their ‘Poison’ album. Starting off with a lackluster b-side track, the three crooners moved slowly through their 90s style raps and Motown-Phili inspired tracks until they finally hit their more popular songs.
Moving even further back into the early 80s, the three kicked off ‘Mr. Telephone Man’ and allowed an audience member to sing the first verse. Although her voice wasn’t on the caliber of the typical Club Nokia performer, she knew the words, and the crowd drowned out Candice’s scratchy voice and jammed on.
Next was ‘Cool It Now,’ from New Editions 1984 self-titled album, and the crowd went wild singing along to Biven’s beatbox. Then ‘Candy Girl’ played from a pre-taped track from before their voices changed. During the show they signed audience member’s albums.
“We take these long bus rides and reminisce on how they don’t make songs like they used to,” said Ronnie Devoe as the group went into R Kelly’s ‘Bump N Grind’ and New Edition’s ‘Tell Me Why You Cry.’
‘I Apologize’ found the music on mute and the audience singing the lyrics as Devoe just sat back and smiled at his works being appreciated.
When they finally kicked off the lyrics, “It drives me out of my mind,” the track sounded more like a rock anthem as the crowd moved in both relief and joy finally hearing the song they came to hear, ‘Poison.’
They didn’t just do the song once; they made a production out of the song bringing audience members on stage to reenact the original music video from 1990. Getting the dancers on stage the made it a battle of the sexes led by Rickey Bell. As you can imagine the corniest dances that can be imagined were performed by both the men and women with the men actually getting the leg up by sticking to the classic dances of the Wop an Cabbage Patch from the early 90s. This hyped the crowd and brought in the rap verse sung by Michael Bivens and the last verse of the song.
The live band really made the music come alive and they showed off during the ending with the DJ joining in on the musical entertainment.
For more information on the BET Experience, go to www.bet.com.