The red carpet has been rolled up, out-of-towners have gone back home and as expected, the bellyaching has commenced. The sixth edition of the oft-criticized Ohio Hip Hop Awards & Music Conference has come to a close and even though the host city changed from its birthplace of Cleveland to Columbus this year, the weekend's flagship event, the OHHA ceremony, continues to be vilified by many.
This year, the Ohio-shaped plaques were handed out at the attractive downtown landmark, COSI (Center of Science & Industry). The show was hosted by Columbus' WCKX on-air personality, City and Cleveland's Tropikana from WENZ with Cuntry filling in when City had to leave to fulfill other obligations.
In the months leading up to the Awards, there were a series of showcase competitions in various cities around the state. The winners of those competitions were slated to perform at the main show. This included Hennessy Jones, F.H.S.P., Cuntry, Dave Speed, A.D.D. and Kahsyno, among others. The extravaganza kicked off with a cypher featuring Searius Add, Dominique Larue and Tiyana Payne. Later in the show, Add would put on another of his patented exhibitions in wordplay by incorporating audience-suggested words into a spoken word piece as he introduced Kim Joyce.
The big winner this year was Cleveland's Machine Gun Kelly. For a good spell, it seemed like the recent Bad Boy Entertainment signee was making his way to the stage in five minute intervals, if that. When he wasn't collecting his own awards, he was picking them up in lieu of others or in one case joining his manager on stage, Ashleigh Veverka, who was recognized as Executive of the Year.
However, all was not lost for the capital city with a seemingly ever-growing chip on its shoulder, as several artists and venues were honored over the course of the evening. Skully's Music Diner was recognized as the Best Live Venue, while Magnolia Thunderpussy and Mansion claimed wins in the Best Retail Outlet and Best Nightclub categories respectively. Fly.Union won the award for Best Group and Searius Add claimed victory in the Best Spoken Word category. Copywrite gave an unorthodox speech as he accepted his award for Lyricist of the Year and J. Rawls was the winner of Album of the Year for his The Hip-Hop Affect.
While the majority of the awards are voted on by the public, the Ohio Hip Hop Awards Committee does give out a few of their own. The aforementioned Executive of the Year is one of them, along with the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Daymon Mumford Humanitarian Award. This year's recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award were BHB and Krayzie Bone, while Cy Harp was honored for his continued contributions to the community while using hip-hop as the medium.
Shortly after the presentation of his award, Krayzie Bone was joined on stage by Machine Gun Kelly and Ray Jr. as they performed "Sloppy (Remix)" together for the first time. The energy surrounding the performance was best suited for a grand finale and many of the show's attendees departed shortly after even though it was technically at an intermission point. The showgoers that stayed were treated to a magic show along with performances from Erica P. and the previously mentioned Hennessy Jones and Best Male Vocalist, Dave Speed.
For many, the show seemed to drag on just a bit and perhaps that is why they chose to depart prematurely. It appeared that time was a concern of OHHA organizers as the awards were often handed out two and three at a time.
In the end, the Ohio Hip Hop Awards are going to be criticized regardless of the outcome. Annually, the issues that seem to get raised the most are why Artist X won and how come Artist Y didn't even get a nomination. The quickest rebuttal that the OHHA gives to those gripes is that those artists might need to work harder on building their brand, which includes developing a fan base. The committee receives thousands of submissions and are faced with the daunting task of whittling those down to ten nominees per category. Any strategies that can help an artist gain a competitive advantage are key.
The final day of the OHHA weekend is dedicated to the Music Conference portion which features a panel of industry executives and insiders who are well aware of what it takes to make an impact in the music industry and are willing to share their insight with those who are serious about pursuing a career.
For its first foray as the host city for the OHHAs, the City of Columbus maintained its own. While there's no guarantee that the festivities will be back next year or any other year for that matter, taking the show on the road did prove that it could be successful outside of Cleveland.
Perhaps with a few tweaks next time around, the Ohio Hip Hop Awards can be streamlined into a shorter show that captivates from start to finish.
The complete list of winners can be found at We Bleed Hip Hop.