If you haven't heard by now, the Twin Cities Hip-Hop Awards recently celebrated its sixth year. What started out as a simple MySpace poll back in 2007 had turned into a semi-respectable affair -- often selling out venues filled with local heads connecting and having a good time -- but times have changed.
Last year's award gala ended with fighting on stage, and the crackle of Tasers got in the way this year. Not many things in this scene last five years, and back-to-back years of embarrassing behavior might close the book on this one. Especially when this drama overshadows who actually wins each year. So if you haven't seen the tally of 2012 TC Hip-Hop Award recipients, here it is:
Best Knowledge Spitta: The Lioness Best Band: More Than Lights Best Hustler: SICK Song Of The Year: Atmosphere ft Prof, Felipe & Mr Gene Pool - "Minnesota Nice" Best Video: Absent ft Gene Poole - Money Can't Buy Time Mixtape/Compilation Of The Year: Rocky Diamonds - The Diamond Life Album Of The Year: Prof - King Gampo Best Female R&B: Auburn Best Promotion Team: Black n White Ent Best Producer: Mike The Martyr STP Mayor: I.l.l.i.c.i.t MPLS Mayor: Big Wiz Best Solo Act: Mod Sun Best Kept Secret: Cashinova Next Up: ThatGuySoda Most Slept On: Kidd Magiic Best MC: Toki Wright Best Group: Dope Sic Best Label: Rymesayers Best Crew: OBF Troopz Best Male R&B: TRILLA Best Live Show: Mod Sun Best Female MC: B Dot Croc Best DJ: DJ Enferno Best Documentarian: 13Twentythree Best Radio Show: Tite @ Nite The Come Up Award: ChevyBoy
What has always been fun about this show is the range found in these 25 categories. Along with "Best Band" and "Best Record" is "Best Knowledge Spitta," handed out to the person who most uplifts the community with lyrics and show. Facebook and message board beefs usually spark up days after the award show, but it's all in good fun. Or is it? We've packed our Taser and extra security as we give our opinion on a few questionable categories, nominees and winners of 2012.
TC Best Hustler
Okay, the best hustler sounds like a good thing to award especially in these times when record companies have stopped signing big label rap acts and guaranteed big advances. How come that out of the ten artists nominated, I've only heard of three people that are up for this award? I don't live under a rock; I'm out and about and been in this scene for years. I even work in a few record stores, and have never seen your CD pass my fingers. So what kind of hustle do you have if I have never heard your name? Let's cut this to five nominees, or however many known quantities we can find in a given year.
Big Wiz (MPLS Mayor of 2012) talks fiscal policies with Yelawolf.
The MPLS Mayor and STP Mayor
Do R.T. Rybak and Chris Coleman have something to worry about? If it's rewarding the person who represents their city the most, then that's cool, but how do you qualify for that? The MC who rocks the most Laker throwback gear or Saints apparel, or name-drops the most neighborhoods on records? How does someone get nominated one year and then not have an incumbent position on the ballot? If Big Wiz has real solutions to solve the Viking stadium debate while keeping property taxes low, and if I.l.l.i.c.i.t can solve the University Avenue light rail issue, and stop the retail blight that is haunting downtown St. Paul then this award could be a game changer. Otherwise, scrap it.
TC Best Kept Secret, TC Next Up and TC Most Slept On
At first glance, you would think that these are all pretty much the same category, and really they are. Best Kept Secret and Most Slept On are exactly the same. Throw up another live act instead of printing awards for the same subject matter. For artists who have been on the scene for years, being listed on "most slept on" almost could be seen as a slap in the face. There must be a logical reason why they are being "slept on," and I couldn't see a proud MC accepting this award. The Next Up award is a cool category, unless you nominate a tired 30-year-old rapper who has a kid to support -- and maybe a wife. Let's set an age limit like American Idol used to do.
TC Best DJ
Do they mean best club DJ? Best radio DJ? Best mix DJ? All of the above? This nominee list is impressive and stacked with legendary DJs, but the one I never heard of wins. DJ Enferno. Who? Not only is the name unoriginal (good bet there is an Enferno in every city with a turntable), but the REAL DJ Enferno has a 2003 DMC Champ title and is Madonna's touring DJ. Our local DJ Enferno doesn't even appear in the first five pages of a Google search. And what makes this flaming Enferno stand out above fellow nominees like Plain Ole Bill and DJ Fundo, who have weekly nights and successful parties every month like Get Cryphy? Dan Speak and Dell Dilla have been around for years, and get better with age -- like a fine wine or George Clooney. But I never heard or seen an Enferno in the clubs, on tour, or on the radio. Maybe he should take a lesson from the "Best Hustler" award winner.
SICK likes the color blue.
TC Best Hustler
Speaking of, this award was given to SICK, who I have never heard of in my life. I remember SICK used to be a common graffiti tag I would see all around town, but I doubt that kid picked up a mic. After further internet review, this guy actually has a decent story. The North Minneapolis native landed in jail. Following his release, he has a new attitude on life and started up Still Real Records.
His tracks are catchy and club-ish, but his cover art is a Photoshop nightmare that would make even Master P angry. SICK's hustle is so real that he's already fled town and moved back to Arizona. So at least this guy is going state-to-state with his craft -- unlike a lot of local artists who never been west of Ridgedale Mall. Upon further review, SICK deserves this award. He's trying to make it and is given it an honest try. Good luck in AZ, but I don't think Cardinals fans will be happy you made a track called "Purple and Yellow."
The TC Legends Award
This award is basically a lifetime achievement award for the local hip-hop scene. Past winners include the Abstract Pack, Micranots, Q the Blacksmith, Michael "Eyedea" Larsen, Travitron and R.L. from Next. But maybe they should also give this award to themselves. The first year of the TCHHA was a running joke amongst most artists and DJs in town. It became known as the MySpace Awards in many circles because anyone could vote for nominees as many times as they wanted, if they just refreshed the page. It was pretty bad. I'm sure some ballet stuffing went on, and heads just rolled their eyes.
But it has kept progressing for six years, and the shows have been better organized, hit bigger venues, and the local press started to notice even before the right hooks to a security guy's head made YouTube. If the people behind the TCHHA can pull off a seventh year and keep it clean, maybe they should be handing themselves the golden envelope. After the last two years, it would really be a lifetime achievement.