The hot spot of the summer, ATL, was host to the 5th annual Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Awards which was sponsored by American Urban Radio Network. The Billboards/b> honor some of the best in Hip-Hop and R&B for musical accomplishments every year. There are several categories in which established artists as well as “new” artists can be nominated. “New” artists in the sense that they have not appeared on a Billboard album chart prior to March 27, 2004 or have not been a new artist finalist in the past. Some of the categories up for grabs were: Top R&B/Hip-HopSingles, Top Songwriter, Top R&B/Hip-HopArtists (New), Top Rap Album and the list goes on. Some of the nominees included: Mariah Carey, Destiny’s Child, 50 Cent, Eminem, Mario and again the list continues.
Amongst the nominees and winners none were present with the exception of the President of TVT along with his right hand man and current roster artists Ying Yang Twins. The Billboard Awards lacked the panache of an expected awards show. The red carpet was rolled out for the “celebs” that were in attendance. These handful of individuals consisted of: Mr. Sensitivity himself, Ralph Tresvant who was accompanied by a tall, caramel complected female, Donnell Jones (where’s he been), Chris Brown, Jagged Edge, Kelis Jr. Keisha Cole, mix matched Fatty Koo, and surprisingly Malika of Making of the Band 3. There were a couple of legendary artists whom I did not catch on the red carpet, but were in attendance.
“I’m every woman it’s all in me. Anything you want done baby I’ll do it naturally”. The one and only ChakaKhan! ChakaKhan was awarded the coveted R&B Founders Award. This distinguished award recognizes the many accomplishments Chakahas made musically as well as the impact she has made on R&B artists which have followed behind her. In addition, Tribe Called Quest was presented with the Hip-Hop Founders award by Hip-Hop artists De La Soul and Black Sheep. Tribe is “credited with jump-starting and perfecting the Hip-Hop alternative to hardcore and gangsta rap”.
The night was kept alive by the silly antics of Russ Parr of the Russ Parr Show as he joked, “…anyone want a free drink…let me know when you get one” and “…the chairs are coming…” as we all stood around with our feet blistering because the event was standing room only. The energizing performances of Fatty Koo, Keisha Cole, Chris Brown, and of course “EHH….” Ying Yang Twins are what really kept us entertained. Fatty Koo warmed the night up, but would not have sustained their own if need be. The vocals were tight but the stage presence and appearance needed work. Keisha Cole, on the other hand, held the crowd down with her rendition of I’m Going Down which was previously down by Mary J. She also gave an emotion filled performance of her hit single, I Just Want It to Be Over. Keisha proved that she was not to be reckoned with when it comes to singing. She showed she has talent and is not a voice magnified by a studio amp. The ball continued to roll with Jive recording artist sixteen year old Chris Brown as he showed no effort in belting out his single Run It. Last but not least the Twins put on a hype show as expected.
By the end of the night legends were honored and awards were given. Usher walked away with three awards: top R&B/Hip-HopArtist, male top R&B/Hip-HopArtist, and hot R&B/Hip-Hopsingles and tracks artist. Way to go Usher! 50 was tied with Usher for three awards as well: top R&B/Hip-Hopalbum, top rap album, and he was given the crown as top R&B/Hip-Hopalbums artists as well. G-G-G-G Unit! Other artists recognized were Alicia Keys for best songwriter, Fantasia for R&B/Hip-Hopsingles sales, Destiny’s Child best duo, Lil Jon best producer, TVT for top independent label, Interscope for top major label, Mario top R&B/Hip-Hopsingles (airplay), and Game for R&B/Hip-Hopartists (new).
In all the night was just another night with a couple of stars here and there. The atmosphere was chill and for the most part everybody enjoyed themselves. It was a great networking event as was the many workshops that were held between the 3rd-5th. The expert panels gave great insight and advice on a variety of topics from what teens want musically to a super producers workshop featuring VA producer Timberland. The networking and connections made balanced out what the show lacked.