One week ago, the Dream Nightclub on the West Bank of Cleveland's Flats District was the place to be as the 5th Annual Ohio Hip Hop Awards & Music Conference's main event took place. The award show is designed to recognize and showcase the best of the best in Ohio hip-hop. The show was hosted by Big Eddie Bauer, Robyn Simone and City. Toledo's DJ One 1X TyMe held down his position as the house deejay.
By the end of the night, forty OHHA plaques had been handed out to recipients in various categories that touched all aspects of the culture. For example, 2 Live Music was the winner in the Best Retail Outlet category, while Skully's Music Diner won for Best Live Venue. Blessed Label came away with the hardware for Best Clothing Line and Jada Stacks won for Best Model. There were also awards given out for Best B-Boy/B-Girl and Best Turntablist, with Billie Bad Ass and Scratchmaster L walking away with the honors, respectively. The Daymon Mumford Humanitarian Award was given to Al Porter and TJ Chapman & DJ Lyte-N-Rod were both named as Lifetime Achievement Award winners. For a look at all of the winners, click here.
Aside from the recognition, some of the awards came with more than just an Ohio-shaped plaque. Take Machine Gun Kelly, who won in the Best Live Performer Category. In addition to his award, he also will receive placement in XXL Magazine, a write-up in The Source magazine and a $2,000 promotional package from Digiwaxx.com. Toledo's Cuntry won the OHHA Industry Showcase the following Sunday, and with that he also won a feature on the OHHA website, their newsletter and also the radio shows that are affiliated with OHHA such as "The Playa's Ball" and the "Go Gettas Show." He also gets trips to Atlanta and Detroit for a free recording session at HotBeats Studios and to attend the Red Bull Big Tunes producer competition.
Bone Thugs-n-Harmony member Bizzy Bone also made a special appearance along with Portia "Lady Rerun" Berry. You can currently see her in a regional advertisement for Safe Auto Insurance. There were also several performances from the likes of Ray Cash, Status Flo, Gotta Hustle, Erica P, Jola, Freeway Boyz, ADD, Desi, BCE, Mz Nikki, Freezy and Britni Elise. The show was closed out by a performance from Young Mook.
While a great amount of work goes into putting together an event of this magnitude, each year the execution of the Ohio Hip Hop Awards ceremony seems to be criticized and the show itself often negatively referred to as the "Cleveland Awards" since many of the artists that win are Cleveland-based. In its current format, once the categories are set and voting begins, people can vote for their favorites once per day for a nearly a month prior to the ceremony. In the world of social networking, this creates a torrent of "vote for me" action via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace and any other platforms the artists feel will be effective.
At the end of the day, the OHHA committee just counts the votes and crowns a winner based on that. However, the approach that some refer to as a "popularity contest" has rubbed many people the wrong way over the years. Some have suggested that a change in host city might change the way the Awards are perceived, others feel like a change in the way winners are chosen may do the trick. In any event, what seems to get lost in all of the commotion is the fact that there is an entire weekend filled with activities to enrich and educate artists on the ins and outs of the industry. Too many get hung up on the pomp and circumstance of the main show that they fail to capitalize on the opportunities that are within their reach.
Only time will tell what the future holds for the Ohio Hip Hop Awards & Music Conference, and while possibly flawed, it still manages to motivate hundreds of artists to put large amounts of time and effort into their work in hopes of being recognized...and it's pretty hard to knock them for that.
Photos from the event can be viewed here and here .
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