Big Mo, a local comedian and aspiring filmmaker, will finally present his controversial Celebrity Player's Ball this Sunday (January 26th) at the Twelve Lounge (1123 H Street, N.E.).
Big Mo is currently shooting a feature length movie and he is hosting a series of showcase events leading up to the premiere. He recently did a show with Sassy from VH1's Black Ink, and rappers Rome Solo and Maryland Menace.
The Player's Ball is another event Big Mo put together to help promote the movie, and also to capture additional footage for the final scenes. He hopes to wrap production in the next couple of weeks for an early summer release.
Big Mo ran into a problem right away by using the term "Player's Ball".
Traditionally, a Player's Ball is a gathering of movers and shakers from all around the country. They come together to socialize and vote on the most successful businessman (or businesswoman) in their industry, and that person is given the prestigious title of "Player of the Year".
Because DC is a city with a culture, and a history, of producing shot-callers and heavy-hitters, calling your event the "Player's Ball" carries significant weight, and some people take it very seriously.
After Big Mo released the Player's Ball flier and began promoting the show on social media, Vice Dolla, a rapper and CEO of Dat Doe Entertainment, was extremely critical of the event.
Vice didn't have a problem with the concept itself, but he considered the line-up to be unworthy of an "DC Player's Ball".
"They're charging people $50 to see an MMA fighter, former boxing champ Riddick Bowe, and the headliner (Bonecrusher) is an irrelevant rapper," said Dolla incredulously. "How can you have a Player's Ball with no players?"
Vice Dolla faced off against Big Mo and J.R. Gray (former partner and promoter) in several tempestuous discussions about the legitimacy about the show.
Another major issue arose when Big Mo announced he was going to give out awards. Not just for "Player of the Year", but also for categories like "Best Male Rapper", "Best Rap Group", "Best Model", etc. Rumors began to circulate that Big Mo was having his own DMV Awards presentation. People were even more upset when they saw the online ballot included several nondescript rappers who shouldn't have been in consideration.
The acrimonious debates culminated in a confrontational meeting at the Eddie Kayne radio show on WLVS. In attendance were Big Mo, Vice Dolla, Lex Boogie, Sherlock (Absoloot CEO), and myself. The conversation became heated at times, but everyone respectfully (although sometimes loudly) expressed their opinions.
Big Mo said that the event was never intended to be a "DC Player's Ball", or a "DMV Awards", it was simply a "Big Mo's Celebrity Player's Ball". And because he was paying for the venue and the trophies, he could distribute the awards to whoever he wanted to - regardless of their credentials. That explanation seemed to satisfy most of the critics, and by the end of the show everyone made peace and agreed to support the show.
That peace was shattered about week later when Big Mo and J.R. Gray (Chocolate City Entertainment) became involved in a financial dispute. They exchanged accusations of financial impropriety and threatened lawsuits against each other. J.R. Gray issued a statement that he was "officially backing out of the show and will no longer endorse the voting results for the awards." He also demanded that Big Mo print new tickets removing any association with Chocolate City Entertainment.
Gray's comment about the voting results was important because (according to him) he was solely responsible for coordinating the online ballots. He claims that nobody else had access to the votes and without his involvement to verify the voting results no legitimate awards can be distributed. Gray has also threatened to release the "true" voting results the day after the Player's Ball.
In Gray's absence, another local promoter, Traci Lex Entertainment, stepped in as lead promoter. She quickly made moves to stabilize the event and announced additional appearances by Big G (Backyard Band), Bam 640 (recently signed to Universal Records), and The Real Housewives of Benning Road.
Traci Lex also had to extinguish another rumor, allegedly started by J.R. Gray, that the Player's Ball was canceled. She released a statement on Facebook that addressed the erroneous gossip and the voting situation.
"The show is still on January 26th. The public has voted. Nothing has been changed except if you are not there to receive your award, it goes to the runner-up. No one person will stop my dreams! Sorry for the confusion, If you have any questions please contact me."
J.R. Gray denies starting the rumor or releasing the voting results to anybody associated with the Player's Ball.
After all the drama and confusion, the Player's Ball seems to be in pretty good shape. Established entertainment entities like Forever DC, DTLR, and Go-Go Radio.com are promoting the event, and Big Mo remains as confident as ever.
"The tickets and tables are almost sold out," he proclaimed. "The awards will be handed out as scheduled. We had online voting and the percentages were right there on the website for everyone to see. So it's crystal clear who the winners are. We're going to have over 40 models. Two go-go bands are going to perform and my own Mo'at Models have something really special planned."
Big Mo went on to address all the people who doubted him.
"I had a lot of people who hated on me and didn't believe I could pull this off - but I did it. And I'm not finished yet. My movie, Big Mo's Gonna Learn, will be out in the summer and I also have a hip-hop fashion show in the works. But first, I want everyone to come out to the Player's Ball on Sunday and have a good time. It's going to be a great show. My haters are invited too, lol!"