Jason Derulo is a mega-talented hit maker and triple threat- he can sing, dance and he writes his own music. On paper, he is a perfect music artist. But he fails to reach a very large and important demographic- black people.
His recent singles, “Talk Dirty” featuring 2 Chainz and “Wiggle” featuring Snoop Dogg, have enjoyed considerable success on the charts, yet not very much attention from black radio stations and their audiences. He does not chart as well on the hip-hop charts as he does on the pop charts, or The Hot 100, which is much more general, and this is because Jason Derulo has been up, until this point, a purely pop-producing artist.
We witnessed another public dismissal of Derulo by the 2014 BET Awards, which did not include Derulo as a nominee or a performer this year. Though Derulo has been incredibly active on the airwaves recently, BET choose not to include him on the nomination list for “Best Male R&B/Pop Artist.” Chris Brown, August Alsina, John Legend, Justin Timberlake and Pharrell all received nominations in that category. Derulo was also passed up for a nomination for Best Collaboration, despite both singles off his new album having featured popular rappers. On top of all of that, BET for some reason opted not to have him perform on the show. They even hyped up a “performance” by Beyonce and Jay-Z in the last spot of the night, which turned out to be a prerecording from an earlier date on their On The Run Tour, but could not be bothered to have a live performance by Jason on the show.
The shade is so real.
In May of 2014 he delivered an impressive performance of “Talk Dirty” and “Wiggle” at the Billboard Awards in Vegas, and going off of that and the audience’s reactions, one would expect him to be performing at every major award show this summer. The question that the BET Award’s exclusion of Derulo poses is what qualifies a black artist to be a part of, as Derulo puts it in an interview with Pacific Rim Video host Chris Trondsen (see below), “that world?” Jason is, after all, a black maker of music who is charting. Shouldn’t that alone qualify him to receive some recognition from BET? He is a large contributor to top 40’s summer soundtrack, and though the contribution is not hip-hop, it’s a contribution nonetheless. In that same interview, Derulo confirmed that he does feel like the underdog when it comes to the BET Awards, calling them “behind” compared to other awards shows, such as MTV’s VMAs or the Billboard Awards. “I’m almost done with it, man, to be honest with you,” he says. Whether or not BET will include Jason Derulo in the future remains to be seen, but he does receive love from other award shows. As for the VMAs, the last major award show of the summer, Derulo has not yet been confirmed as a performer, but only three acts have been so far (Usher, Ariana Grande and 5 Seconds of Summer), so there is still a large chance that we will see him light up that stage in August.
So why is it that BET did not include Jason Derulo in any of the night’s festivities? Apparently his songs were a part of voting for nominations in the first round, but simply did not make the cut for round two. Another fact about Derulo’s music is that although his singles do well on the charts, his albums do not, which greatly distinguishes him from other artists, like Bey, Jay, Chris Brown and Timberlake, who some people complain about BET consistently kissing the butts of. Regardless of that, Derulo’s album sales probably do not contribute well to his memorability as an artist, and may be exactly what is holding him back. Will you be listening to “Talk Dirty” or “Wiggle” in a few months? Years? We all have our choice artists, but I know I have Chris Brown, Beyonce and Justin Timberlake songs on my iPod from years ago. This is also a key factor in an artist’s popularity. How long will I be listening to your music? Derulo certainly makes music for the moment, but beyond that, who knows.
“Talk Dirty” was the also the first single that the airwaves heard from Derulo with more of an urban sound. Prior to that, with songs like “Ridin’ Solo,” “In My Head,” and “Whacha Say,” which enjoyed higher peak numbers on the charts, Jason Derulo consistently put out pop hits. So that beckons another question- do the consumers who watch the BET awards every year even know who Derulo was prior to “Talk Dirty?” Or are his singles more memorable than he is?
Still, Derulo continues to receive positive responses from pop stations and their listeners. Maybe one day he’ll make it to the BET Awards, but until then, he’s still swimming in positive attention and a building fan base.