“You never thought that hip-hop would take it this far” – Notorious B.I.G.
As I entered the Ohio Theater to start my experience at the Ohio Hip-Hop Awards I couldn’t help but to think of how far the event itself has come. Starting at humble beginnings at the Metropolis in it’s first year with low expectations to now being the go to event annually in the hip-hop community. Each year it got bigger. Bigger venues. Bigger crowds. Bigger expectations. Expectations that are impossible to meet at times…
I walked up the grand entrances stairs greeted by media and photographers eagerly asking me for interviews and pictures. A camera flashes and there goes the beautiful Crazy Tee in a stunning black dress that almost distracted me from my photo op. Between interviews I see the Browns official DJ Ryan Wolf who stopped by to talk with me for a moment. Tropikana from Z 107.9 walks in headed towards her seat as the security urges us to start heading to our sections as well. It was a who’s who of the Ohio music scene in attendance.
I took my seat as the lights dimmed and DJ KNyce began to play music until everyone was seated. Showtime. The hosts JGraie and Joe Little come out to a warm reception. JGraie is wearing a shimmering dress that had all the men in attendances full undivided attention.They announce the first two categories and both are wins for Cleveland’s own DJ E-V. He’s not in attendance this year, but that’s what’s amazing. When the awards first started everyone was there at the Metropolis. Everyone was so local they didn’t have too many other places to be. Now our states music has reached nationally and in some cases globally. E-V happened to be in LA working. Machine Gun Kelly was also in LA working and he won multiple awards. Although we’d all like to celebrate and see some of the bigger names in the seats and giving speeches it’s even better to see them on that national platform with people there to accept awards on their behalf.
The first few acts go on and while they were fairly solid you can notice the audience wasn’t too impressed.. That was until Uncle Paulie took the stage. I’ve never personally seen him perform or heard his music, but if that set didn’t make you want to I don’t know what will. He’s basically a Cleveland version of 2 Chainz with his own unique qualities. His energy was through the roof as he does a buckled knee jig and lets out strained words at the end of each line that sounds like he’s gasping for his last breathe at times. It started off as people laughing amongst their selves because of his quirkiness, to everyone falling in love with his image. He had the duffle bag that was bigger than his torso firmly planted in the middle of the stage as he continued rap to a now standing crowd. Definitely the performance of the night. Maybe even the best I’ve seen at an award show outside of MGK.
The show continued with more awards handed out. Lantana took home Mixtape of the Year. I just seen him last year for the first time at the Ohio Hip-Hop Awards when he won Best New Artist. I seen him last week on 106 and Park. It’s a beautiful thing. After a few more acts they bring Basheer Jones to the stage and he delivers a wonderfully crafted poem concerning violence in the city. It really hit home with me and a lot of the people in the rows around me as he described inner city murders coinciding with the seasons. I hope he releases that. In fact I hope they make it into a public service announcement and play it every hour on the hour on our local stations. People need to hear that message.
Back to the show. FHSP get announced as Best Group and they grab their award and the mic to start giving their award speech. That’s when we see a random man in a black hat storm the stage snatching a mic from Bobby Champagne who announced the category. He tries to do his best Kanye imitation to tell the crowd how his artists should have won, but it was just blatantly disrespectful. Majestic (one of the founders of the OHHAs) happened to be sporting a Mr. T like hairstyle in the wings and came running at the man who was ruining his show like he was Sylvester Stallone in Rocky III. He snatched the man by the collar and manhandled him off stage. The crowd couldn’t believe that just happened. What’s worse is it turned out he bolted on stage during the wrong award. His group was nominated for a completely different category. People on Twitter and on stage dubbed him “Baby Kanye” and proceeded to crack jokes throughout the night. He wasn’t the only baby of the night though.
Once the smoke cleared the show had to continue, another act comes out and they had a special guest. What I’m guessing was one of their daughters came on stage and did the cutest little bounce to the music as they went into their first song. She wandered back and forth on the stage which started to make me nervous. You never know what can happen. The baby survived the first song unscathed. Second song the group now brings break dancers out. The small child was still out there and at one point one of the dancers was on their head performing a helicopter and their daughter walked extremely close. Too close for anyone in attendance comfort. Gasps echoed through the theater as we almost seen the child walk into a spinning foot to the face. The Twitter world went wild after they cleared the stage. Best tweet of the night goes the Ashleigh Veverka (Machine Gun Kelly’s manager) who retweeted Steph Floss’s tweet “It’s a baby running around the stage at the awards!” and she attached a picture of a kid crying that read “Turn down for me mommy” to it. It was one of those tweets that was so wrong, but felt so right.
The event was coming to a close. JGraie, now on her 3rd wardrobe change, came out and announced the final act who was Cleveland’s own King Cobra. Apparently a lot of people have never seen him live before. He brings a live pet snake with him. People weren’t ready. Once people got over the fact he had a reptile around his neck though they got into the performance. He brought out Mookie Motonio and Fly Tye on his set and then after they did their verses the song comes to a screeching halt. Their DJ (DJ Ball) tried to resolve the issue, but to no avail. That was how the show ended. An odd ending to an odd show. Many highlights and many uneasy moments.
One thing is for sure is our music scene is growing. Each year artists, models, producers etc. care more and more about winning an award, It’s making our state hungry. The Ohio Hip-Hop Awards only gives out so many steaks each year. There’s not enough for everyone to eat. Now the show has made the competition level and the drive of every artist reach a fever pitch.While the award show wasn’t perfect it’s the perfect motivator for Ohio. Who knew what started many years ago at a local nightclub would become one of the single most influential things in the state? Now the OHHA committee has to top the 2013 awards. It seems impossible. I’m sure 8 years ago it seemed impossible to get this idea of a state wide award show off of the ground though, so I’m optimistic.
Written By: Referee