Apparently, a dungeon exists somewhere in MTV’s studios, somewhere that still plays music. Known as mtvU, the television network targets college students and broadcasts a variety of programs about things that we care about, like activism (obviously) and cool robot music.

mtvU Woodie Awards

Sunday at 8 p.m.

All jokes aside, mtvU panders more convincingly than most other corporate shills. It sponsors Fulbright Scholars and has a number of opportunities that involve college students. But the opportunities aren’t exclusively for service, though, and the mtvU Woodie Awards exemplify just that.

Billed as an award show for “the best in indie, underground and everything in between,” the mtvU Woodie Awards allow college students (like you and me!) to make the decisions, and most of the nominees are acts that don’t get much love from the mainstream shows.

Recently, The Michigan Daily took part in a Woodie Awards conference call with DJ Dillon Francis and rapper A$AP Rocky, in which both artists talked about their craft, their rising popularity and what the awards nominations mean to them.

Francis was first known for his forays into moombahton, a Latin-infused brand of electronic music. Soon after, he signed to Diplo’s Mad Decent label and has seen his notoriety grow since being anointed an “artist to watch” by MTV’s electronic music show, Clubland. Nominated for “Breaking Woodie” (Best New Artist, for you squares out there), Francis considers a Woodie win as an achievement, but only a temporary one.

“If I win it, I think it will be really cool … but, for me, I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and keep making music that I really love, and that’s it,” he said.

While many of Francis’s dreams have already come true, like working with DJ Calvin Harris, he won’t let such success go to his head. From a hardworking family in Los Angeles, Francis often describes his unyielding work ethic and seems serious about sitting atop the throne of EDM (electronic dance music) one day. He’s “aiming for 10,000 hours (of work)” by next year, and with his debut album on the way, Francis could be a big name for years to come.

Back for the second year in a row, Harlem’s A$AP Rocky took a step forward this year. Last year, A$AP performed and earned a nomination for “Breaking Woodie,” but this year, he’s up for “Woodie of the Year” as the odds-on favorite.

A$AP’s flavor of New York rap contains a shot of Houston sizzurp, and the hype surrounding him has been growing ever since he signed a 3-million dollar contract with Sony in late 2011. Like Francis, success means more to A$AP than any award.

“Coming up to me and telling me that you enjoyed my music when (you’re) a total stranger is better than winning a Grammy to me.”

Randomly peppering the conversation with “swag” and “they call me flocka,” the slow-talking A$AP described the legacy he wants to leave, and it’s one for the kids.

“Legacy? I’m teaching the youth … through all my songs and my energy. … It’s a new day and age; we need to get back and bring back the hippie power. … We (are) all one people; we need to get high and enjoy life together the way we did back in the ’70s, and that’s the legacy I’m gonna leave behind. Swag swag.”

For all of his praise of the hippies, A$AP displays tremendous business savvy as well. When asked what he’s bought with his money so far, he yelled “not a damn thing,” emphasizing that the money is an investment in his career. He considers himself “the future” and, with his meteoric rise to fame, it seems like he might be right.

A$AP wouldn’t mind some hardware on his mantle, though. He declined to make a prediction on the voting, but said, “I hope I win. That’s it.”

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