The Best--And The Mess--of the 2022 Soul Train Awards

Photo:  Frazer Harrison (Getty Images)
Photo: Frazer Harrison (Getty Images)

Every year the Soul Train Awards brings out the best in Black music—stars shining in dazzling red carpet looks, new acts bringing down the house with electrifying performances, and musical icons hitting us all with heavy waves of nostalgia, all in honor of the artists that continue to drive the culture forward—and 2022 was no different. From Tank’s pre-show performance where he made it clear that R&B is alive and well, to Coco Jones’ debut performance of “ICU,” to Xscape’s acceptance of the Lady of Soul Award, let’s get into this year’s musical medleys, messiness, and everything in between.

Hosted by comedian Deon Cole, the stage was set early for some good old fashioned sugar daddy jokes.

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“Welcome, welcome all Nick Cannon’s kids,” Cole began. He then asked for the audience’s grace, expressing that it was his first time hosting “something of this magnitude,” and that he would be making several mistakes throughout the evening, mainly due to the fact that he couldn’t even read the teleprompter. He then concluded his opening monologue with a little advice to the ladies in the audience.

“I know you came here tonight to find you a nice, sexy R&B dude with abs and a nice beard and all that, but that ain’t where you should be focusing tonight,” he teased. “You gotta get your finances together…See what you need to do is look for a Mr. Frank tonight, yes. Somebody that’s gone pay your bills, your tuition. He’ll buy you a car, too, yeah. A brand-new 2006 Camry.”

As the night rolled on, we learned of some of the biggest winners of the night including Lizzo, Silk Sonic, Tems, Steve Lacey, Jazmine Sullivan, Chris Brown and more. Beyoncé took home album of the year for the fourth time in a row for “Renaissance,” and song of the year for third time with “Break My Soul.”

Newcomer Muni Long also won big this year as she was honored with the Ashford and Simpson Songwriters Award for a little song you may have heard once or a thousand times. “I’ve been writing songs since I was eight years old,” Long mentioned in her speech. “Hours and hours!” You could hear someone shout from the crowd. The songstress giggled at the joke made in reference to the title of her now Grammy nominated single.

Minneapolis natives Morris Day and The Time were honored with Soul Train’s Legend Award and blessed the stage with a compilation of some of their biggest hits of the eighties. The crowd rocked to a performance of “Cool,” “Jungle Love,” and made space in the aisles as they spread their arms to do “The Bird” dance. Meanwhile, Chante Moore brought us all back to 1999 and reminded us how she keeps a man at home with a hit selection of her own. The iconic singer belted out “Chante’s Got A Man,” “Love’s Taken Over,” and “It’s Alright,” much to the audience’s delight.

One of the biggest moments of the night however was a flawless performance by 90’s era super group Xscape. The foursome hit the stage with gorgeous gold costuming, big hair, and even bigger voices, proving that not a thing has changed in the near thirty years they’ve been in the game. In the eight minute medley, the group sang “Just Kickin’ It,’’ “Who Can I Run To?” “Tonight,” and closed out with “Understanding.” And while the songs were left just as we remember them, so was the drama. While accepting the Lady of Soul award presented by Jermaine Dupri, the ladies served their speeches with an epic side of shade. As Kandi closed out her moment with the mic, LaTocha stepped in to offer a few words of her own.

“What I’d like to say is continue to shine your light for the world to see,” she began. “And when you’re shining your light, bring somebody up. Don’t do it to dim their light.” The other group members were noticeably uncomfortable, given the three versus one drama their legacy has become. But before it seemed like LaTocha was even finished, Tiny took hold of the mic to express her gratitude as well.

After thanking Soul Train, she turns to the group members on her right, (all but LaTocha) to say, “And thank you to my girls. I love y’all.” As LaTocha nods on the opposite side, Tiny briefly looks at her and then back to her other group members. Now if that’s not shade, I don’t know what is. 

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