[Editor's note: For those who were unaware, I was nominated for the second year in a row in the Best Photographer category. I didn't win, but perhaps I'll be lucky enough to make the ballot again next year]
Last Sunday, the 7th annual Ohio Hip Hop Awards & Music Conference wrapped up an entire weekend filled with entertainment and pertinent information for those wishing to take their careers in the music industry to the next level with their main event award show at the Aladdin Shrine Center.
Although all the nominees are Ohio-based, attendees traveled from places as far away as Florida and New York to attend the show honoring the biggest and brightest in Ohio hip hop and entertainment.
Each year, the pomp and circumstance associated with the event seems to grow larger and larger. This time around was no different. Every single inch of the Aladdin Shrine Center's 24,024 square foot ballroom was put to good use. Vendor and sponsor booths lined the walls, selling their goods and distributing promotional materials to any and all interested parties in attendance.
Just outside the doors of the ballroom, the red carpet experience was in full effect as several nominees and their guests made their way inside of the venue. From the more outlandish outfits like sparkling dog collars and chains to the more traditional black suit and tie, it seemed as if everyone was out to make some sort of statement.
Inside, the show began promptly as Headkrack of the Rickey Smiley Morning Show read the winners of the Red Carpet Awards. This included awards for Best B-Boy and Best Photographer among others. Due to a scheduling conflict, Headkrack had to leave prematurely in order to make a flight, but Cuntry stepped in to fill the void, joining Power 107.5's Misty Jordan to host the remainder of the show.
Rap/rock hybrid, Audio Engine kicked the show off in high octane fashion before turning the stage over to the founders of the Ohio Hip Hop Awards & Music Conference. Although Garbs Infinite was missing in action, D. Lorand Jackson, Derrick McKenzie and Quincy Taylor welcomed the audience to the show, thanking them for their attendance and support throughout the entire weekend of events.
Performances from the likes of Pay Per Flave and Lolah Brown were certainly highlights of the show's first half, as Flave came equipped with his own entourage of spirited backup dancers and Brown owned every inch of the stage. In a display of just how far the show has come since its inception seven years ago, some winners made acceptance speeches via video, as was the case with Kim Joyce and Fly Union, who took home the hardware for Best Female Vocalist and Best Group respectively.
As DJ Steph Floss accepted his award for Best Club DJ, the King of Clubs was flanked by supporters and stepped up to the microphone to deliver a message to all of his fellow DJs which was to stop allowing promoters to pay DJs less than they are worth (if they pay at all).
The trio of Bloodshot kept the energy of the show going with their performance and the plethora of models on stage provided just the right backdrop for Frank Benji's "D*mn She Bad."
After performances by Bedroc and JayMel, Columbus' own Qnemisis exploded onto the stage with just about every Columbus-based artist in attendance right by his side. The sign of solidarity amongst Columbus emcees would repeat itself once more during a performance by Rikk Reighn and Raindrop.
The show began to wind down as Ray Jr. rocked the stage and had a few choice words for the rule about keeping the performances squeaky clean before going through a medley of his hits including the winner for Best Video, "Sloppy."
As with every year thus far, the majority of the awards handed out at this year's Ohio Hip Hop Awards ceremony are based on a public vote. However, a handful of awards are decided by the OHHA Board. This year, Lifetime Achievement Award winners were J. Rawls and Joe Little of the Rude Boys. The Business and Music Executives of the Year were Alonzo Mitchell III and Daniel Ivans respectively. Chris Powell was the recipient of the Daymon Mumford Hip Hop Humanitarian Award for his S.T.A.R.S. Program.
There are plenty of good people working both behind the scenes and on the front lines to ensure that each year the Ohio Hip Hop Awards & Music Conference is the best that it can be. The Ohio-shaped plaques are nice, but the weekend is about more than that. Education and enlightenment are points that are stressed almost to the point of ad nauseum, but they are important to note.
There will always be detractors as far as the Awards are concerned. There are often gripes about who was nominated and who wasn't, but its a hard job to try and whittle down so many deserving artists into a group of ten nominees. Some have even gone as far to insinuate that some people have paid for their awards in advance. Others feel that it's nothing more than a mere popularity contest and that there should be a panel of some sort assembled to select the winners.
It doesn't look like that will be on the horizon anytime soon, but the Board has already begun discussing their plans for next year and focusing on how to make next year's conference weekend even bigger and brighter than this one.
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