Terio the 7-year-old Internet sensation was on stage dancing to Bobby Shmurda’s hit single “Hot Nigga” at this years BET Hip-Hop awards. After ruminating over the performance I started to think about the whose decision it was to have a child on stage dancing to a song about living destructive lifestyle and the politics behind it.
During the BET Hip-Hop awards Terio an overweight Internet sensation was brought on stage to dance to Bobby Shmurda’s popular song “Hot Nigga.” This was a bad idea on so many levels. I’m all for surprise guests coming on stage an little kids engaging with Hip-Hop, but to bring out a little boy who is no older than 7 to dance to a song that is about carrying guns and committing murder, this probably was not the best choice for BET, Bobby Shmurda, and little Terio. Where was the discretion? Why didn’t BET or Bobby Shmurda’s handlers see the potential bad press that could have come from such poor decision-making? These questions caused me to think about why this seemingly innocent move on Bobby Shmurda and BET’s part, doesn’t resonate with me.
First off, the song is called “Hot Nigga” and is an ode to street culture. The lyrics are literally gun bars and bravado dovetailed by the word “nigga.” This is not the most lyrically astute artist or song and much of his success is due to his “Shmoney Dance” that he performs briefly in his music video. The 10 seconds of Bobby Shmurda performing the dance has been edited and has gone viral based in part to the catchiness of the song and the silliness of the dance. I am not knocking Bobby Shmurda for turning a new leaf and focusing his energy into positive pursuits like music instead of the streets. I am also a fan of Hip-Hop and freedom of expression, but this song is dangerous in the fact that the catchiness of the beat combined with the dance acts as camouflage for the lyrics. By the time little Hip-Hop kids really digest the lyrics there will be a serious question and answer session with whomever they pose these questions to. “What is a hot nigga”? “What is a 9 Milli?” Are people really ready to tackle these questions once the dancing stops?
BET, assuming that they knew little Terio was coming out on Bobby Shmurda’s set, should have exercised some discretion. Terio is no older than 7 and he’s dancing on stage to grown men signing about sex, drug dealing, gang banging, and death. Part if not all of Terio’s appeal is based on the fact that he is overweight. Terio, like Bobby, got his start from the social media app Vine when one of his videos went viral. Since then Terio has appeared with numerous celebrities taking photos with the child. Terio is famous because people gawk at his heftiness and find it amusing. Most of the videos Terio got recognized for would seem mundane and a waste of film had Terio not been overweight. People are laughing at Terio and not with him and the day he realizes that just imagine the blow to his self-esteem? I am shocked that when there was a joke about Blue Ivy (Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s daughter) on BET’s video countdown show, there was immediate action taken to rectify the situation and vowed that it wouldn’t happen again. When a child is the butt of the joke BET was appalled, but when Terio is the butt of the joke who is also child, BET is silent? I would hate to think that the politics of who these children are and whom they are connected to factors into BET’s discretion and decision-making. If laughing at Blue Ivy is a punishable offense and garners a public apology, then the same allowances should be made for Terio. Period. Furthermore, if Nicki Minaj had performed her hit single “Anaconda,” a song that glorifies penises and sexual exploits for money, would they have allowed a little Black girl to dance to it on stage?
We should all be a little more mindful of the choices we make especially when it comes to children. The fact that little Terio was on stage during a performance by a Hip-Hop artist is not problematic. The choice of song he was allowed to come on stage for is the issue. Terio is too young to fully comprehend the meaning behind the song “Hot Nigga.” Maybe one day he will look back and ask his handlers “why was I allowed to come on stage for this song?” to which I hope there will be a fully thought-out and well-formed argument as to why. BET is one of the last vestiges that cater to a Hip-Hop audience. Their knowledge of what is new and hot in Hip-Hop has sanctioned them to become tastemakers and when they allow an impressionable little Black boy on stage to be gawked at by millions to a song about drug dealing and death, it becomes unfortunate considering how susceptible young Black males are to these things. I’m glad Hip-Hop has its own award show and is celebrated when it is shunned in so many other ceremonies, but I cant help to think what BET would say if Bobby Shmurda and Terio closed out the Grammys? Would the error of their ways still go unnoticed or would they demand a public apology or even a boycott with sentiments on the fact that “we” need to control “our” images? Who knows? But there is one thing for certain; BET should have denied Terio access to the stage.