On the calendar, the seasons shifted from summer to autumn — a breeze could be felt on Euclid Avenue in Downtown Cleveland as the crown jewel of the Ohio Hip Hop Awards & Music Conference brought an entire weekend of entertaining and informative events to a close. After being held in Columbus for the past two years, the Ohio Hip Hop Awards were back in their birthplace of Cleveland, Ohio with the awards ceremony being held at the historic Ohio Theater at Playhouse Square.
The Ohio Hip Hop Awards committee is always striving to make the event bigger and brighter than the previous year and in its eighth year, things were no different. A lengthy corridor and a few twists and turns lead into the Ohio Theater — vaulted ceilings, beautiful chandeliers and a well-stocked bar welcome any and all guests into the lobby. A pair of attention-grabbing ice sculptures sit in-between two sets of staircases that lead to an area where members of the media are conducting interviews, snapping photos and exchanging contact information. Needless to say, things were in full swing. When all of the hustling and bustling of the preshow finally calmed down, the artists, presenters, managers and entourages found their places inside the theater.
The show opened with a warm welcome from OHHA founders D. Lorand Jackson, Derrick "Majestic" McKenzie and Garbs Infinite before turning the reigns of the show over to hosts Joe Little of The Rude Boys and J. Graie.
The first two awards of the night, Best Club DJ and Best Mixtape DJ both went to DJ E-V — quickly setting the tone of EST dominance that would define a majority of the show as it pertained to actual awards.
Just as with years past, a great deal of time gets dedicated to the live performances. The first set of performances included L-Dro, Garbs Infinite, Khil Datta and Jason DBKS.
Shuicide Holla was crowned Lyricist of the Year, while Tezo's "Evil Plan" took home the Ohio-shaped hardware for Best Video and Machine Gun Kelly's cut with Dub-O, Ray Jr., Tezo, JP and Pooh Gutta, "Ratchet," won the award for Best Collaboration. Accepting on his behalf was Dub-O, who would make several more appearances as the show moved along.
With a banner and beat machine in tow, Halfrican came to the stage to put on a high energy show — complete with a Michael Jackson toe-stand that the gloved one himself would likely admire. Uncle Paulie followed and the audience appreciated his exuberance on the stage as he danced, jumped around and enjoyed every moment of his time in the spotlight.
Back on the awards end, Ray Jr.'s "Workin'" picked up Single of the Year and Album of the Year went to Kenn Ball for Birthplace of Aviation. Lantana's All Hustle, No Luck won Mixtape of the Year and Dub-O was awarded Mixtape Artist of the Year. Slim Gudz was victorious in the Producer of the Year category and Olivia Marie was selected as the Model of the Year.
Before being presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award, the audience was treated to a performance by Big Mucci and 71 North. The other recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award was Kermit Henderson, who is celebrating his 40th year in the music industry. Two young high school students from Glenville and Bedford Heights, respectively, were recipients of the Cleveland Classic scholarship. The Daymon Mumford Humanitarian Award was bestowed upon Basheer Jones, who ended his acceptance speech with a lengthy piece of spoken word poetry examining the trend of escalating inner city crime and violence as the seasons change.
Ericka Kayne was awarded Best Female Vocalist, while Rashad won in the Best Male Vocalist category. The most controversial moment of the evening came as FHSP was accepting their award for Best Group — Enzo of THC stormed the stage, snatched a microphone and proclaimed that THC was the Best New Group. He was quickly confronted and escorted backstage. The actual winner in the category ended up being Wreckin Squad. Other winners were Dub-O for Best New Artist and D1 for Most Improved Artist.
During Caine's performance, he was joined onstage by Charles Ramsey — the hero that came to fame due to his role in the rescue of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight.
The show began to wind down, but not before performances from Kayla Kay and Kid V. The aforementioned Kay was awarded Best Female Artist, while Ray Jr. won Best Male Artist. Machine Gun Kelly won both the National Artist and National Album/Mixtape categories and Bubby The Buckeye Boss won Best Live Performance. Accompanied by an actual snake, King Cobra gave the final performance of the show.
Just as with years past, people will find something to gripe about when it comes to the Ohio Hip Hop Awards. This year, it was the EST 19XX dominance of many award categories and next year it will be something else. Grumbling could be heard as the showgoers exited the theater, but one thing that could not be denied is the fact that the Ohio Hip Hop Awards committee put on a streamlined show. Many awards were handed out the prior day at the Music Conference portion of the weekend to cut down the length of the show, which has been criticized in the past.
In one of the show's more tender moments came as Big Mucci accepted his Lifetime Achievement Award — D. Lorand Jackson (already accompanied by his daughter onstage) asked Mucci to bring his daughter to the stage and as it turns out, they were born one day apart from each other.
Perhaps it is those moments that best sum up what the Ohio Hip Hop Awards is all about. Growing together and moving towards something that is bigger than the sum of its parts. The ninth edition of the Ohio Hip Hop Awards & Music Conference will have to do a lot to top their work this year, but they are more than up for the task.
Read the entire list of winners and runners up at http://ohiohiphopawards.com/awards/winners/2013-winners-list
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