Originally published on Wired.com
March 29, 1999
Written by David Kushner
NEW YORK – The Grammy awards have long been criticized for not properly recognizing hip-hop culture.
Now a group of artists and activists are staging their own star-powered event that will be webcast Tuesday night.
The Online Hip-Hop Awards Show will honor winners in 12 categories, including Best Web Site Dedicated to the Art of Graffiti and Best Artist Web Site. Performers and presenters are scheduled to include innovators from hip-hop’s past and present, from Grandmaster Flash, who helped pioneer the genre nearly two decades ago, to Canibus, a new artist who has been using the Web as a means of distribution.
The event grew out of Support Online Hip-Hop, a three-year-old site based in Brooklyn, New York.
“Hip-hop on the Web has always been prevalent,” says SOHH founder, Felicia Palmer. “It started on the streets, and soon kids were MC-ing online. We’ve been screaming ‘Hip-hop online’ for years; the industry is just starting to take notice.”
Since 1 February 1999, over 40,000 sites were submitted for consideration. The Artist of the Year category recognizes notables such as Lauryn Hill and The Roots, who have created their own independent sites. Another nominee, Hieroglyphics, an unsigned band in Philadelphia, has used its site as a publicity platform since being dropped from its record label.
“Hip-hop consists of four elements: break dancing, graffiti, MC-ing and being a DJ,” says Stinke, Hieroglyphics’ online manager. “The Internet is the fifth element of hip-hop. It’s giving power back to the artists to maintain and control their music.”
Unlike the Grammys, the Online Hip-Hop Awards are celebrating the community as much as the artists. One category recognizes sites such as Homegrown Hip Hop Zone and The Krib’s Freestyle Board, which are dedicated to “the art of turntablism/DJing.” Another award highlights the “hottest audio/video Web site,” including the popular Net radio show, 88 Hip-Hop.
Part of the US$25 ticket price for the show will benefit MOUSE, a New York nonprofit that wires urban schools.
Randy Nkonoki-Ward, co-host of 88 Hip-Hop, says he’s happy to see more diversity not only in awards shows but within his own musical community.
“It’s a good thing when hip-hop is represented the right way,” he says. “It’s not just about rap music, it’s about the culture.”
Reproduced on Hieroglyphics.org for educational purposes.