11 Albums You Should Listen To Right Now To Prepare Yourself For The 2017 BET Awards

From Beyoncé to Wizkid.

If there's one way to celebrate African-American Music Appreciation Month — sometimes called Black Music Month — it's the 2017 BET Awards. After all, it's one of the few ceremonies that specifically honors Blacks in music, as well as acting, sports, and other entertainment fields.

The monthlong celebration came to be back in 1979 when President Jimmy Carter issued a proclamation that June would be the month when the contributions of Black Americans in music would be honored. It was originally given the name Black Music Month, but was renamed African-American Music Appreciation Month in 2009 by President Barack Obama. All U.S. leaders spanning Carter to Obama have observed this occasion, with President Donald Trump following suit and issuing a proclamation this year.

The 17th annual BET Awards will be held Sunday, June 25, and will take place at the Microsoft Theatre at L.A. Live. Saturday Night Live star Leslie Jones will host the star-studded event, and there are some really talented folks up for trophies. So, to prepare yourself for all the fun, here are 11 albums you should listen to right now:


1. “Lemonade” by Beyoncé

Few albums have been as culturally relevant as Beyoncé's 2016 released Lemonade. It is the former Destiny's Child singer's second visual album — following her self-titled 2013 album — as well as a concept album. It bridges many genres and contained hit after hit. It was the best-selling album of 2016 and, upon losing to Adele for Album of the Year at the Grammys earlier this year, the Brit dedicated the win to Beyoncé, calling Lemonade "monumental."

Beyoncé is nominated for Album of the Year, Video of the Year, the Coca-Cola Viewers' Choice Award, Best Female R&B/Pop Artist, Best Collaboration (twice!), and Video Director of the Year. Also, fun fact, Beyoncé has the most BET Award wins ever, with 24, and has been nominated the most times, with 61 in total (eight of which were with Destiny's Child).

2. “I Decided” by Big Sean

With I Decided, Big Sean soared to the top of the charts again. The rapper revealed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon that both men on the cover are him — with a present-day version on the left and older version on the right — and that the album is largely about rebirth, per Entertainment Weekly.

Big Sean is nominated for Video of the Year and Best Male Hip Hop Artist at the 2017 BET Awards.

3. “24K Magic” by Bruno Mars

With his third studio album, Bruno Mars hasn't yet reached the pinnacle of his previous album, Unorthodox Jukebox, but it still hovered around the top of the charts. The 2016 release was described in an interview with Zane Lowe of Beats 1, per Rolling Stone, as having created it as if he "wanted to make a movie" that took place in NYC on a summer night at "the baddest rooftop house party."

In addition to performing, Mars is nominated for Album of the Year, Video of the Year, the Coca-Cola Viewers' Choice Award, Best Male R&B/Pop Artist, and Video Director of the Year at the 2017 BET Awards.

4. “Coloring Book” by Chance the Rapper

Coloring Book, Chance the Rapper's third mix tape, earned this young man a spot in the history books when it won Best Rap Album at the Grammys earlier this year. Why? Because it's now the first streaming-only album to ever win one of those coveted trophies. Chance the Rapper collaborated with some of the biggest names in the biz and his music is widely loved — but let's not forget all the good work he does away from the music scene, particularly for his hometown of Chicago and its citizens in need.

Chance the Rapper is nominated for Album of the Year, Best New Artist, Best Male Hip-Hop Artist, and Best Collaboration at the 2017 BET Awards. He will also be given the Humanitarian Award.

5. “Views” by Drake

Drake was super meme-worthy with this album's offering of "Hotline Bling," but the rest of the album stood up, too. It's the singer's most successful album chart-wise and — with the aforementioned single — earned a Grammy for Best Rap Song.

Drake is nominated for the Coca-Cola Viewers' Choice Award and Best Male Hip-Hop Artist at the 2017 BET Awards.

6. “Long Live the Angels” by Emeli Sandé

Emeli Sandé arrived on the scene back in 2012 with the debut album Our Version of Events — which was the best-selling album in the U.K. that year — and followed that up with Long Live the Angels in 2016. The Scottish singer delved into her background for the most recent offering, telling the BBC she'd visited her father's homeland of Zambia, traveled to her grandmother's village, and sat around fires singing with the people there. Those collaborations were captured via voice memos and sampled on the album.

Sandé is nominated for Best International Act: Europe at the 2017 BET Awards.

7. “4 Your Eyez Only” by J. Cole

J. Cole took a page out of Beyoncé's playbook and teamed up with HBO for a documentary about the release of 4 Your Eyez Only, which aired in April 2017, a few months after the album's December 2016 release. Many were worried that Cole was considering retirement ahead of this album's release and were surprised when it almost appeared out of thin air.

Cole is nominated for Album of the Year and Best Male Hip-Hop Artist at the 2017 BET Awards.

8. “Anomaly” by Lecrae

With Anomaly — Lecrae's biggest album yet — the Christian artist became the first to top both the Gospel charts as well as mainstream charts. That's not the only first in his career, though, as Lecrae was the first hip-hop artist to win a Grammy for Best Gospel Album in 2013 and was the first rapper to win a BET Award for Best Gospel Artist in 2015. On top of that, Lecrae owns his own label, Reach Records, and is the co-founder and president of ReachLife Ministries, a nonprofit.

Lecrae is nominated for Best Gospel Artist and the Dr. Bobby Jones Best Gospel/Inspirational Award at the 2017 BET Awards.

9. “The Pinkprint” by Nicki Minaj

It has been a hot minute since Nicki Minaj put out an album — the latest was The Pinkprint in 2014 — but that doesn't mean the rapper hasn't been at the top of her game lately. In addition to continuing to release songs and lending her talents to other artists, she's been busy with non-music things, too. Minaj has been helping fans pay off student loans, secretly donating to an Indian village, and let's not forget that she's still got that Freeform series that based on her own life. Busy lady! 

In addition to performing, Minaj is nominated for Best Female Hip-Hop Artist at the 2017 BET Awards. 

10. “A Seat At the Table” by Solange

In addition to being famous for being Beyoncé's little sister, Solange Knowles — who just goes by Solange as an artist — has made a name for herself. A Seat At the Table was Solange's first No. 1 album in the U.S. and happened to occur in the same year Beyoncé got a No. 1 album, too. Solange, in a statement, called the album "a project on identity, empowerment, independence, grief, and healing." 

Solange is nominated for Album of the Year, Video of the Year, Best Female R&B/Pop Artist, and the BET Centric Award at the 2017 BET Awards.

11. “Superstar” by Wizkid

Wizkid is a Nigerian singer-songwriter who rose to fame with his debut album Superstar in 2011. Since then, Wizkid — whose real name is Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun — has since released three albums (with one on the way), and was notably the first Nigerian musician to hit 1 million followers on Twitter in February 2014, per The Guardian

Wizkid is nominated for Best International Act: Africa at the 2017 BET Awards.


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