LOS ANGELES- At the Black Entertainment Television network’s annual BET Hip Hop Awards, Swedish tenor Jussi Björling was posthumously named the network’s “Entertainer of the Year,” narrowly beating out perennial frontrunners Beyonce, Drake, and Kanye West. The Borlänge native and longtime principal of the New York Metropolitan Opera was praised for his bombastic high C’s in his performances as the title character of Faust, as well as his contributions to the amalgamated musical expressions of marginalized African American communities collectively known as Hip Hop.
Cedric the Entertainer, the event’s host, went on to call Björling “the premier operatic tenor of the 20th century,” and later expressed his gratitude for Jussi’s direct role in “bringing the urban hardships of modern black music to the fore of the American conscience.”
Opera singer Anders Björling, Jussi’s son, accepted the award on his father’s behalf, thanking BET for their commitment to preserving black culture, fostering the emergence of new black artists on the national stage, and for honoring the Swedish operatic tradition.
A teary-eyed Anders also shared with the audience that in a remarkable display of respect for the late opera star, the rapper formerly known as Juicy J has permanently changed his name to Jussi J.