The DMV Awards show isn’t the first local awards program to shut down early because of violence. Last year, the Minnesota hip-hop scene suffered the same fate.
As organizers remember it, the 2010 Twin Cities Hip-Hop Awards show was running relatively smooth. A minor altercation had taken place, but security staff quickly defused the situation before it got out of control.
“People were respecting themselves and the event” held at the First Avenue concert hall, recalls Larry Lucio Jr., a stage manager at the awards show.
Then, technical difficulties stalled the show before the Illuminous 3 set, which forced host Boima Freeman to kill time until they performed.
Soon after, witnesses say, JayEstate—a Minnesota-based record label executive—crashed the stage and wouldn’t leave. A video of the incident shows Estate grabbing a microphone, trying to heckle Freeman. That’s when the host got irritated.
“What the fuck are you doing here?” Freeman yelled to Estate. “Ain’t there a little boys’ party yo’ ass should be at?”
Estate rushed Freeman and slapped the microphone from his hand. Freeman punched Estate in the face. Members of Estate’s entourage rushed the stage to throw punches. All hell broke loose. The fourth annual awards show was shut down early.
“I tried to get [Estate] off stage, then when I thought he was getting off the stage, he rushed the host, who swung on him,” David “DEPth” Powell, organizer of the Twin Cities Hip-Hop Awards,tells Arts Desk. “Fights always happen at hip-hop shows, but you have to move past it.”
Which is exactly the challenge now facing the D.C. area’s hip-hop world. On March 5, the fifth annual DMV Awards show ended abruptly after five or six fights erupted on the first and second floors of the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington. Five people were sent to local hospitals with injuries, including a buffet worker, who was seen leaving the hotel holding a towel to his eye.
No arrests have been made. Arlington County police are investigating the incident. The causes of the fights are still unknown.
After the Twin Cities incident, Lucio says, “no one shied away from what went wrong. It’s important to have those conversations. They can be difficult and they can be hurtful.”
Yesterday, members of the DMV hip-hop community held a town hall meeting at the Community of Hope AME Church in Temple Hills and discussed ways to strengthen the local scene. Judah, a notable D.C. producer, said local rappers’ inflated egos will never allow them to unite; instead, they should “co-exist” if possible. Permiss, a Baltimore radio personality, disagreed, saying that unity will happen here in due time. (I was also on the panel.)
Lucio says there was “shock and horror” in the Minnesota hip-hop community, as people tried to make sense of what happened. Freeman immediately took to Facebook and apologized for fighting. He and JayEstate then publicly squashed the beef on KMOJ-FM radio. But it’s been more than a week since the DMV incident, and no public reconciliation has taken place.
And the status of the 2012 DMV Awards is still unclear. On his Trending with EZ radio show last week, EZ Street said the show will happen next year, even if he has to organize it himself. During yesterday’s town hall meeting, current organizer Dre All Day was adamant that an awards show will take place next spring.
Despite last year’s controversy, this year’s Twin Cities Hip-Hop Awards proceeded as scheduled, even if the energy was slightly subdued, Powell says. Again, there was a scuffle in the crowd that ended quickly. At least this time, there weren’t any interruptions.
“With this,” Powell says, “you just gotta keep trying, and hopefully one day they’ll get it.”