May J Blige was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the BET Awards last night. As mentioned in the previous post, Rihanna presented it to her.
Exactly. It’s Mary J Blige. To properly recognise Mary, you have to bring in someone who’s worthy of Mary. And someone who’s worthy of Rihanna. Mary acknowledges that immediately in her acceptance speech, telling Rihanna that she’s a “huge fan” and that she has “inspired [her] right back”.
Presenting the award is one thing. Paying tribute is another. At the Grammys a few months ago, Diana Ross performed a dedication to herself because she is still a living, breathing superhuman among humans – who better to do it? Same goes for Mary. Mary gave the crowd a medley of her hits and turned that arena into a party. I know this is a long video (almost 20 minutes) but if you watch the entire thing from start to finish, you’ll get a small sense of what it might have been like to be there, as everyone sang along, rapped along, danced in the aisles, stayed out of their seats for every second of Mary’s happy, sad, mad, and empowered self-guided tour through her catalogue. Because these are the songs that so many people have also been happy, sad, mad, and empowered through in their own lives. As she sang:
Anybody who’s ever loved
You know just what I feel
Too hard to fake it
Nothing can replace it
We ALL know what she felt. For all these years we have known. And they knew, in the audience. Which is why the atmosphere in there felt like a community coming together.
And the two step!
She was doing the classic choreo, wearing her cap backwards with a crop top and a tricked out baseball jersey and thigh high boots, stomping every inch of that stage with a stank face and so much confidence. The confidence to say:
“I am a leader, a queen, a living legend.”
“Although I am all those things, I’m a servant as well and I’m here to serve.”
The direct interpretation of service is a higher power. In this case it also means the standard of entertainment, and what it means to be an artist. Mary J Blige has upheld the standard.