The BET Hip Hop Awards aired this week, dishing out a socially distanced celebration of the year in rap music. Megan Thee Stallion cleaned house, surprising probably no one, Pop Smoke was posthumously crowned Best New Artist and Kamala Harris even made an appearance to get out the vote. There were also a handful of great performances, including another entry in the show’s typically awesome cyphers. But one standout moment came from one of the most electric artists of 2020: Tobe Nwigwe. He mashed up his two viral hits “Eat” and “Try Jesus” to create one stunner of a performance that starts tender and ethereal before straight up popping off. Just try to sit still when Tobe, his wife Fat and the crew launch into the jubilant refrain, “Bout to be on a first name basis with Beyoncé.” You can’t.
It’s another jewel in Nwigwe’s absolutely loaded crown. Few artists have been able to navigate the complications of creative output during our seasonal stew of national unrest and lockdown vibes. Nwigwe’s music is great, but it’s not just great. It feels finely tuned for the moment, tapping into the energy we’re all feeling but having a hard time expressing. And if that sounds a little loopy to you, just watch the BET performance and you’ll get it. Just one more reason Nwigwe may well be the artist of 2020.