Originally published on WIRED
March 31, 1999
Written by David Kushner
NEW YORK — The do-it-yourself spirit proved to be the theme of the Online Hip-Hop Awards show Tuesday night.
Chuck D, Canibus, and dozens of other artists from hip-hop’s past and present, gathered in the packed, smoky confines of Tramps nightclub to celebrate the growth of their music and culture on the Web. Fans jammed the auditorium late into the night, while others around the world tuned in for the netcast as 12 winners accepted awards for outstanding online achievement.
The big star of the evening was Hieroglyphics, who took home plaques for the Best Artist Web Site as well as the Online Hip-Hop Award of the Year. After members of the band were dropped from major labels like Jive and Elektra, Hieroglyphics created the site as an outlet for their own independent releases.
Each award recognized a site that reached fans outside the traditional music industry machine. 88 Hip-Hop, a popular Net radio show based in New York, won the prize for Hottest Audio/Video Web Site. HipHopSite, a daily online magazine, won for Web Site of the Year.
The selection process was completely fan-driven. In the past two months, fans named 40,000 nominees to the Support Online Hip-Hop site. (SOHH, along with SonicNet and twec.com, the online wing of Trans World Entertainment, sponsored the awards.) The pool was eventually narrowed down to eight contenders in each category. In an effort to ensure a fair counting procedure, SOHH checked the IP and email address from which each nomination was sent.
Grandmaster Flash, who was one of the first to popularize rap music in the late 1970s, equated the growth of hip-hop Web sites to the use of technology in the early days of the genre.
“It reminds me of when I was first putting my equipment together,” he said in an interview before the event. “I had to pick the right needles, the right turntables; now it’s like having to pick the right browser.”
During the event, Grandmaster Flash announced that he will soon launch his own Web site.
In one of the night’s more impassioned moments, Public Enemy’s Chuck D joined Online Hip-Hop Pioneer award winners Naughty By Nature on stage to urge the crowd to empower themselves through the Internet. Rap music has long been about intrepid artists putting out their own releases, he said. Now the Web can serve the same means. “The Net is the best vehicle for hip-hop,” he said.
Though he’s been widely associated with the recent cause of MP3, Chuck D also made a point to position himself in a larger context. “I’m not mister Yo MP3 Raps,” he said, referring to the defunct cable show, Yo MTV Raps. “I’m an advocate for the music.”
After performing, Treach of Naughty By Nature took up the call to action. “Log on,” he told the crowd, “and do your thing.”
Reproduced on Hieroglyphics.org for educational purposes.