July 04, 2013

By Nicole Williams

Contributing Writer


Where can you get concerts by Beyonce, R.Kelly, Kendrick Lamar and comedy shows like Mike Epps and Cedric the Entertainer, listen to seminars on issues like gun violence AND enjoy live music outside WHILE eating delicious local food? THE BET EXPERIENCE! The first ever BET Experience graced its presence in the historical LA Live in DTLA June 28-30th, all happening before the 2013 BET Awards. The extravagant event of limitless things to do was made possible by the partnerships it created.

It all started with the ribbon cutting at the open ceremony where BET’s CEO Debra Lee alongside our local politicians and partners got to welcome everyone to the first ever BET Experience stating that it would go down in history. The Fan Fest hosted the BET Pavilion, Centric Pavilion, Music Matters Stage, a Taste of a Taste of Soul, Health & Wellness, Dance 4 Hope, BET & Taste of Soul Community Stage, 106 & Park Stage and a Celebrity Basketball game.

The game featured celebs like Chris Brown, Marques Houston, Columbus Short and Busta Rhymes, Mike Epps, Tyga and Keke Palmer. Clipper’s player Matt Barnes was also there participating as a coach for one of the teams. Crowds gathered to the Sprite Basketball Court to watch the celebrity battle go down. They warmed up as the DJ spun some records and started balling out! The Sprite Court also hosted Youth Basketball Clinics, Girls Basketball Clinic featuring Lisa Leslie, Sprite All-Star Slam­Dunkers, Drumline Competi­tion judged by celebrity judges and Dance 4 Hope.

A Taste of a Taste of Soul brought in by Bakewell Media offered an appetizer to what LA’s largest annual street festival Taste of Soul is all about. It featured vendors such as Harold & Belle’s, Mel’s Fish Shack, Grandma’s House Catering, OMG Chicken and Waffles, Stone’s Jamaican Food, Big Ronnie’s BBQ, Fun Time Kettle Corn, and Big Tasty Legs just to name a few. The aroma of seasonings coming from several different types of food filled the air along with sounds of Bakewell Media’s StarQuest winners and local artists on the BET/Taste of Soul Community Stage.

Friday, the stage hosted a Taste of Soul Food Showcase, StarQuest winner Adrian Battle, Crenshaw Elite Choir, LAUSD “Spotlight” Winners, LAUSD Classical & Jazz Ensemble and Debbie Allen’s Dance Academy’s “Kids Crewe.”  Satur­day, the stage hosted Starquest winner Beau Williams, a Taste of Soul Food Showcase, LAUSD “Spot­light” Winners. LAUSD Classical & Jazz Ensemble, Marquise Brown & The Gifted and Lula Washington Dance Theatre’s Youth Dance Ensemble. There was no way you could resist not grabbing a plate if you were at the Fan Fest! And if you didn’t get to eat, you missed out, but no worries, the annual Taste of Soul is October 19, 2013. Chairman and CEO of Bakewell Media says that it was an honor to be apart of the BET Experience this year.

“The fact that they have established the BET Experience and have partnered with a Taste of Soul, it just makes it something that welcomes the community to downtown Los Angeles,” Bakewell said.   

He also says that a Taste of a Taste of Soul just hints at what’s to come!

“What’s important about Taste of Soul, different from this [a Taste of a Taste of Soul] is that it’s bigger, it’s better and it’s in our community. It’s in our house where everyone is welcome!

The Music Matters Stage hosted several talented artists and up-and-coming artists over the weekend. Day 1 of the Music Matters Stage brought artists such as Mali Music, Rap Pack, Kimberly Nichole, PJ Morton, BJ the Chicago Kid and Adrian Marcel. 

Day 2 brought artists: Curtis Fields, Marsha Ambrosius, Mateo, Elijah Blake, RaVaughn, Ab-Soul, K. Michelle, Austin Brown and Jessy Wilson.

The BET Experience also brought the BET Pavillion, which hosted movies, gourmet food, beauty/grooming lounges, health and wellness, celebrity basketball games and a relaxation lounge. The Beauty Lounge was the perfect place to get your make-up and hair touched up for free! The temperature was HOT that weekend, so touch-ups were a necessity as lots of women gathered to get groomed. Once your make-up and hair was done, you walked away with some beauty products provided by Covergirl and more!

What could be better than FREE Celebrity Panels apart of BET Revealed? Several panels were conducted over the weekend offering advice on love & relationships, money & finances and issues like gun violence. Panels featured were ‘Couples Uncovered,’ which featured couples Nicole Ari Parker & Boris Kodjoe and Mari Brock Akil & Salim Akil. Another panel featured was ‘Rich Forever: How to Make It, How to Keep It,’ which featured Janice Howroyd, Dennis P. Kimbro, Master P and moderated by Paula Madison. ‘Black Girls Rock! – Rebuilding the Village’ was another panel which featured Beverly Bond, MC Lyte, Lil Mama, Holly Robinson Peete, Tricia Rose and was moderated by Harriette Cole.  ‘Making Moves Outside the Game’ featured Laila Ali and Lisa Leslie and was moderated by William C. Rhoden. Speaking on issues of gun violence was the panel ‘NO GUNS ALLOWED: Disarming Violence in Our Community,’ which featured Snoop Lion aka Snoop Dogg, Ryan Coogler, Melvyn Hayward Jr., T.I. Congresswoman Maxine Waters and was co-moderated by Rob “Biko” Baker and Brandon T. Jones. Rapper, Snoop Lion aka Snoop Dogg says he has changed and hopes to help others change as well.

“You know we got to try to save the world in a better way, by making it a better place to live as far as ridding the world of gun violence and I’ve always been one to glamorize gun violence, so now I’m ready to change and do the right thing and say the right thing, so this is what it’s all about,” Snoop said.

BET Revealed also featured “Genius Talks” with Pharrell Williams in conversation with Bevy Smith and Nick Cannon in conversation with Bevy Smith.

We can’t forget the Film Festival! It featured “Imagine A Future,” “Mother of George,” “Despicable Me 2,” “Things Never Said,” “BET Premiere Cinema: Gun Hill,” “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete” and “Fruitvale Station.”

The JW Marriott Gold Ballroom hosted Spike Bellator MMA, which featured cage demonstrations and chances to meet & greet with talent all throughout the weekend. The demonstrations were enough to get your adrenaline rushing!

Several concerts and comedy shows were also apart of the BET Experience including Mike Epps who took to the Nokia Club stage Friday night with hilarious stories, some that made us cringe, but laugh until we cried. Erykah Badu whose sultry and soulful songs beamed throughout the Nokia Club following Mike Epps Friday night.  The beautiful Beyonce also kicked off her tour “Mrs. Carter Show” Friday night at the Staples Center. Singer Melanie Fiona opened up for Queen B’s kick-off tour concert. Saturday was also full of ear candy goodies including The Roots & Friends, which included Nelly, MC Lyte, Naughty By Nature and Too Short. They performed at the Nokia Club as well. The Staples Center hosted a huge gallery of hip hop/rap artists Saturday night including Schoolboy Q, Miguel, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar and Snoop Lion aka Snoop Dogg and a whole bunch of surprise guests. Those surprises included Dr. Dre, Problem, Future, Ace Hood, Wale, Warren G, Kurupt, Jay Rock, Trinidad James and Wiz Khalifa. Talk about a hip-hop head’s DREAM! Cedric The Entertainer and friends took up the Club Nokia stage Saturday night making us all enjoy some good laughs for the BET Experience. Sunday’s Best was held Sunday at Club Nokia and was hosted by Kirk Franklin. The concert featured Donnie McClurkin, Karen Clark-Sheard, Kierra ‘Kiki’ Sheard of The Sheards, Amber Bullock, Joshua Rogers and Le’Andria Johnson. Bullock, Rogers and Johnson were past gospel competition winners on BET’s Sunday Best TV show and recently released chart-topping albums.

All I can say is what an experience! If you were there, hope you enjoyed the FIRST EVER BET Experience and hope you make plans to participate again!









Photos by Robert Torrence & Troy Tieuel for LAWT

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

July 04, 2013

By Chelsea Battle

Contributing Writer


BET launched its 12th annual awards show this Sunday at LA Live’s Nokia Theater.  The star studded event featured performances from some of the entertainment industry’s hottest artists. This year’s headliners included Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey, Young Jeezy, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Lion, Charlie Wilson, R. Kelly, Robin Thicke, TI, Pharrell, Miguel, ASAP Rocky, 2 Chainz, Erykah Badu, Beenie Man, and Elephant Man.

The show also attracted nine Oscar-nominees, including winners Jamie Foxx, Forrest Whittaker, and Stevie Wonder. Also in attendance was the cast of “The Best Man Holiday” (the sequel to “The Best Man”) including Morris Chestnut, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, Terrance Howard, Regina Hall, Harold Perrineau, and Melissa De Sousa. The stars of “Think Like a Man 2” (sequel to “Think Like a Man”) Gabrielle Union, Kevin Hart, Meagan Good, and Taraji P. Henson also made appearances.

Best Performances of the Night

Charlie Wilson: After winning the Cadillac Lifetime Achievement Award, Charlie gave an electrifying performance alongside Pharrell Williams and Snoop Lion to their 2003 hit single “Beautiful”. Both the performance and the award served as a tribute and testament to his successful career in the music industry.  He later joined Justin Timberlake in a performance of their hit single, “Signs”.  Adding the cherry on top of what was already a momentous performance, Wilson  belted out his classic chart toppers “Outstanding”, and “You Dropped a Bomb On Me”, as delighted fans sang along.

Kendrick Lamar: The audience jumped up out of their seats and stayed up when Kendrick Lamar performed his hit single, “M.A.A.D City”. Things really began to heat up when he brought out guest star Erykah Badu to sing the chorus of the critically acclaimed single, “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe”.

Ciara: Ciara delivered an outstanding performance of her hit single “Body Party”, complete with those sultry dance moves that only Ciara can pull off.  She looked like new money—literally—in a sexy two-piece costume bedecked with dollar bills.

TI, Robin Thicke, & Pharrell:  Three of the hottest men in the building gave an even hotter performance as they hammered out their second hit single of the summer, “Blurred Lines”.  Surrounded by beautiful women on a stage illuminated by red lights flashing the words “Blurred Lines”, the trio crossed all limit lines between them and an audience on fire.

Full list of BET AWARDS 2013 winners are:

Best Female R&B/Pop Artist


Best Male R&B/Pop Artist


Best Group

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Best Collaboration

A$AP Rocky f/ Drake, 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar – Problems

Best Male Hip Hop Artist

Kendrick Lamar

Best Female Hip Hop Artist

Nicki Minaj

Video of the Year

Drake – Started From The Bottom

Video Director of the Year

Benny Boom

Best New Artist

Kendrick Lamar

Best Gospel Artist

Mary Mary

Best Actress

Kerry Washington

Best Actor

Jamie Foxx

YoungStars Award

Gabrielle Douglas

Best Movie

Think Like A Man

Subway Sportswoman of the Year

Gabrielle Douglas

Subway Sportsman of the Year

LeBron James

Coca-Cola Viewers Choice Award

Drake – Started From The Bottom

Centric Award

Tamar Braxton – Love and War

Best International Act: Africa

Ice Prince (Nigeria)

Best International Act: UK

Emeli Sandé

Photos by Robert Torrence for LAWT

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

July 04, 2013

Rapper turned actor Ice-T is making more moves in the world of film production. After tasting some success with his documentary “The Art of Rap,” he’s gearing up to release a documentary on the father of street literature Iceberg Slim.

The film, titled “Iceberg Slim: Portrait Of A Pimp,” takes a hard look at the troubled life of the pimp turned author. Iceberg Slim was born Robert Lee Maupin and fought his way from a rough life in the streets to become an author who inspired plenty of rappers. Some pay homage to him with their rap monikers such as Ice -T and Ice Cube. Other rappers have spun some of his gutter street tales intro their rhymes and therefore given themselves street cred.

The documentary features commentary from the likes of Chris Rock, Henry Rollins, Quincy Jones, and Ice-T and is directed by Jorge Hinojosa. It will be released in theaters on July 9th and will its way to on Demand by July 12th.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

July 04, 2013



Mail, e-mail, or telephone brings news of a matter that demands more attention than you might think. Opportunity knocks at work this week. Tonight spend some quality time with your family. Soul Affirmation: I keep in mind the practical side of life this week.
Lucky Numbers:   7, 10, 30



Listen well for the indications that money can be found in an unusual place. Social and romantic interest should be your focus this evening. Love comes from what you do not say. Soul Affirmation: I let my mind go slack and tighten up my body
Lucky Numbers:  20, 37, 38



Some people may  not “get” where you’re coming from, but ask your family and significant other to give you time to explain your way of looking at life this week. Do it calmly and confidentially. Soul Affirmation: I let go and let the spirit take control.
Lucky Numbers:   45, 49, 54



Now’s a better than usual time for self-reflection and meditation. Share your ideas. They’re more valuable than you think. Appreciation comes from someone far away. You make the call. Soul Affirmation: I admit what I really want out of life this week.
Lucky Numbers:   27, 48, 52



Listen carefully and follow good advice that will come from someone you’ve often regarded as foolish. You  run into difficulties with one of your projects; don’t worry, it’s only temporary. How you manage your mind will affect the eventual outcome. Soul Affirmation: The deed is done. I must wait for the results to unfold.
Lucky Numbers:   8, 10, 32



If there is someone or something that you’re avoiding don’t panic if you find you must confront what you’ve been hiding from. Wait for things to work themselves out. Don’t force the issue. Time solves more problems than you ever can. Soul Affirmation: I seek connection with the best that is in me.
Lucky Numbers:  6, 15, 17



Be flexible. Yes, you. There are many ways to be right and your lover or friend will have come up with one that is different from yours. You‘ll be asked to compromise this week or you just have to give in. Remember you sometimes have to give a little to get a little. Soul Affirmation: I see myself as a finisher rather than a starter this week.
Lucky Numbers:  23, 28, 36



Use your natural magnetism to get to someone who might be hard to reach. If you have a problem that you need to get off your chest tell a relative or friend, don’t hold it inside. Where’s the party? Find it. You need a social setting to make the magnetism work best. Soul Affirmation: I give thanks for the chance to give.
Lucky Numbers:   41, 47, 52



Even if you can’t be with someone you care for, call that person or send a Soul Vibration to let them know you care. You’ll feel better and so will the person. Take time to meditate on the good things life has in stored for you. Soul Affirmation: The success of others is the investment I make in myself.
Lucky Numbers:   35, 41, 50



A person is only as good as their word. If you have made any promises recently remember to follow through. People will be counting on you. Any dissatisfaction you feel might come from not doing what you told someone that you would do. Soul Affirmation: Superficiality is often the best route to clarity.
Lucky Numbers:   12, 18, 36



If you’re not sure about a business deal ask someone who knows. Asking questions now can help avoid mistakes in the future. The love that you have been looking for is right in front of you. Your ability to see it improves this week. Soul Affirmation: When I am clear about who I am, the world becomes clearer.
Lucky Numbers:   9, 14, 22



Your ability to display enormous grace under enormous pressure will be tested this week. Use your gifts this week to transcend petty criticism. Consider the source and know that you are doing just fine. Soul Affirmation: I enjoy the love that others have for me.
Lucky Numbers:   8, 19, 41

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

July 04, 2013


Assistant Managing Editor

By Charlene Muhammad

Contributing Writer


The energy poured through the inaugural BET Experience & Taste of Soul Community Stage at L.A. Live last weekend as thousands flooded parking lots decorated with music stages, basketball courts, beverage trucks and multi cultural food vendors, providing yet another economic boost to the renovated downtown region.

A massive collaboration of the Black community joined forces with premier network Black Entertain­ment Television (BET), businessman and activist Danny Bakewell Sr. (Chairman and CEO of the Bakewell Media) and entertainment conglomerate AEG to bring a world class event featuring elite entertainment from music to film, to comedy, basketball and the best cultural food experience.

Michael Roth, vice president of communications for AEG, was joined by BET Chief Operating Officer Debra Lee, Congresswoman Karen Bass, City Councilman Curren Price, Assemblyman Isadore Hall III, Compton Mayor elect Aja Brown, veteran sportscaster Jim Hill, Bakewell Sr. and a host of other elected officials and dignitaries during a ribbon cutting ceremony that kicked off the BET Experience last Friday.

“I could not be more thankful to AEG and our sponsors for making this dream a reality. It’s great to be in Los Angeles where we expect to have 50,000 join us for this inaugural BET Experience weekend,” said Lee.

For BET and AEG, the matter was not just about entertaining people before the much anticipated BET Awards show, but for many who flew in from other states and around the world it would have been enough. The ‘Taste of Soul’ and the Community State was just the icing on the cake.

“As many people who’ve been to ‘Taste of Soul’, this weekend is going to bring even more people who don’t know what ‘Taste of Soul’ is and that’s all great for everybody.  You come to this once, you’re going to find ‘Taste of Soul’ wherever it pops up again later in the year, but it’s really about celebrating everything we have, the culture,” said Roth.

Bakewell, who is also publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel, created the Taste of Soul Family Festival that will be held on Crenshaw Blvd. October 19 for the eighth time. ‘Taste of Soul’ has been an economic boon to local business and has also showcased local restaurants, entertainment, exhibits and non-profit organizations. 

The BET & Taste of Soul Community Stage was not only filled with performances, but with activities for the audience. People filled the area doing the Cha Cha Slide and the Cupid Shuffle. Some even won food vouchers for the Taste of Soul vendors.

“[A Taste of Soul] has been a really nice experience,” said Steven Coleman, 56. “It’s where young and old meet and have togetherness on one accord.  It’s a beautiful thing.”

There wouldn’t be a BET & Taste of Soul Community Stage without food. There was competition for best barbecue in which Cynthia Daniel from Our Place Barbecue and Shawn Black from Big Ronnie’s Barbecue won Taste of Soul gift bags, tickets to the Grammy Museum and the title of the best barbecue at ‘A Taste of a Taste of Soul.’

People raved about the Taste of Soul vendors all weekend.  Some of the fan favorites were Harold and Bell’s, Bourbon Street Fish and Chicken Hut.

“Chicken Hut has the best chicken ever,” said Valerie Bowden from Atlanta as she sat with her daughter and friends. “We’re all from Atlanta and this is the best chicken in the world.”

A Taste of a Taste of Soul did its job in bringing Los Angeles flavor to the BET Experience.  With great performances and great food, everyone received a taste of soul.

Rounding out Saturday’s line-up were Fox 11 News Anchor Christine Devine’s protégé Sean Christian Jackson aka Lotis. The Sparkids and performers from the California African American Museum (CAAM) featuring actor Jeffery Anglenson Gunther took part in the BET & Taste of Soul Community Stage.

“This is a great multicultural activity that really allows those in the African American community to offer both the enterprise of their food services as well as to share entertainment and also create an opportunity for small business to integrate in a dynamic project that is not only of economic benefit to our community, but cultural enrichment as well,” said former Assemblyman Mike Davis as he enjoyed the festivities.

The original idea came about when AEG hierarchy met with BET officers to envision what the weekend would be, he said. After they decided to make it a celebration of all of the Black culture, it crystalized they needed to have food and they called Bakewell to help make it happen.

“I don’t know if you could say that I made it happen. However, I am pleased that ‘Taste of Soul’ nation could spice things up a bit,” stated Bakewell.

“Up until 2013, no one’s been able to even buy a ticket to the BET Awards because of its popularity,” Roth explained.  “The notion was to package the program with other events and concerts during the three-day weekend, thus the BET Experi­ence with a Taste of Soul.” 

“That’s why this festival, which is free to anybody, is so great for us.  You experience the food, the free Music Matters stage.... It’s a win-win for everybody.  I think the legacy of the BET Experience is going to be what we can give back to the community ... a chance to attend some of these events,” Roth said.

When Shae Sewad’s Cobbler­mania was selected to vend for Taste of Soul at the BET Experience.  She said the impact was two-fold.

“As a vendor at the annual Taste of Soul events, we love the event and are proud to be vendors at it.  We were honored to be chosen as one of the vendors,” Sewad said.

She usually sells her vegan cobblers at the local farmers’ market on Vermont Ave, but attendance has dwindled, she said.  Taste of Soul at the BET Experience helped to regain some of that exposure, she expressed.

“It was an attempt for us to not only promote our businesses, but also to let people know what type of vendors are vending at that particular famers’ market,” she shared.

Other food vendors selected for the event were:  B.D. Burgers, Bac 2 Basic, Big (Kone) Huna, Big Ronnie’s BBQ, Big Tasty Legs, Boone’s Fabulous Fried Fish, Bourbon Street Fish & Grill, California Fish Market, Chef Marilyn Soul Food Express, Dulan’s, Fun Time Kettle Corn, Grandma’s House Catering, Harold & Belle’s Restaurant, Hot Diggity Dog & Co., Juice It Up! Just My Truffles, Kobbler King, LeSassier Catering, Little Ethiopia Business Association, OMG Chicken & Waffles, Quebec Smokehouse Ribs, Stone’s Jamaican Food, Sweet Red Peach, Thai & Hawaiian BBQ, Wi Jammin, Worldwide Tacos, and Young Ladies with Potential.

General Jeff, who was born and raised in South Central, is now a community activist, he serves on the board of the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council.  Since he’s lived downtown since 2006, he’s noted a tremendous lack of Black business owners, he said.

Jeff said he’s been trying to do all he could to get Black businesses, especially food vendors into downtown Los Angeles and succeeded recently when Quick N Split, a hamburger joint, opened on 7th and Broadway.

“That was tremendous in and of itself but this is by far 10 times 10-fold compared to that It’s just to give the downtown community and the greater Los Angeles community an idea of what Black-owned food vendors would do in the downtown community,” Jeff said.

He proudly basked in the glow of the historic moment.  It was the first time ever the BET Awards show presented as a three-day festival celebrating Black music, he expressed.

“It’s not just an awards show anymore.  It’s a fan fest.  It’s a music fest.  It’s a love for all things Black and so we’re talking about the Black food, the Black music, the Black culture period.  And that’s something that the downtown community definitely needs to see,” Jeff declared.

Interns Shanen Hill and Shonassee Shaver contributed to this story.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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