Hip hop is sophisticated now, haven’t you heard? Kanye West interned at Fendi. Rick Ross owns Maybachs — yes, as in more than one. Birdman started an oil company, and as if that weren’t enough, he got a freakin’ oil well tattooed on his head. Google it. Jay-Z knows Obama and travels to Europe more times per month than you will in your entire life. Rappers are no longer rappers — no, they’re artists now, and hip hop deserves to finally be relieved of its stereotype as an immature and pugilistic genre.

Well, not so fast. No matter how “sophisticated” hip hop is today, it will never shed its most endearing and self-destructive quality: the craziness of the people involved. From Ol’ Dirty Bastard to DMX, hip hop was founded on and will always be associated with eccentricity and public disregard. Rappers, with a few exceptions, are a feral, egotistical, strip club-frequenting, weed-smoking, chain-wearing group of troublemakers. And no matter how many European countries they’ve visited, they will never be able to completely hide who they really are.

This insuppressible truth has produced, for almost 20 years, a combination that somehow always seems to go wrong: rappers and award shows.

The Source Awards, while trouble-free for the majority of its existence, will forever be marred by two unforgettable events. In 1994, the inaugural year, legendary New York rap crew Onyx performed their song “Throw Ya Gunz.” The show started fine, until the chorus, when the group pulled out actual guns and fired them at the ceiling. Obviously, the crowd went into panic, and the performance ended early.

I mean, really, Onyx? What did you expect? What was the process here? I can only imagine the conversation before the show.

“Yo, man, I think we should do something special tonight.”

“Yeah! Let’s fire real guns on stage! The crowd will love it. It’s definitely not extremely illegal or unsafe at all.”

After 1994, The Source Awards had a relatively quiet period until the 2000 show in Pasadena, when all hell broke loose and ultimately doomed the show for eternity. The specifics aren’t clear, but in the middle of the show, a fight broke out in the audience and quickly morphed into a show-wide brawl. More than 75 audience members stormed the stage, and only five of the 15 awards were handed out.

Legendary West Coast artist DJ Quick was involved in the fight, taken to the hospital and then arrested. Quik, forever the pragmatist, had this to say of the incident:

“… I tried to break up a fight, and the police tried to throw my thin ass down in front of the world … I didn’t let ’em take me to the ground. In a white suit?!”

Pasadena proceeded to ban the awards for life, the show lost its TV contract with UPN, and after one more show the next year, the Source Awards were finished.

The 2004 Vibe Awards proved to be more eventful. Right before Snoop Dogg and Quincy Jones presented Dr. Dre with a lifetime achievement award, a fight broke out on the side of the stage.

The story goes something like this: As Dre was waiting for the award, one Jimmy James Johnson approached him for an autograph. Dre obliged, but before he could take out a pen, Johnson sucker punched him in the head. Within seconds, the entire G-Unit descended on Johnson. Chairs were thrown and the fight spilled into the crowd. In the midst of it, Young Buck of G-Unit stabbed Johnson in the stomach. The police came shortly, mace was sprayed and, never one to back down, Dre returned to the stage and accepted his award.

Just as hip-hop award shows were beginning to regain their validity, conflict arose in the beginning of October at the 2012 BET Awards between two of the industry’s biggest stars. Young Jeezy and Rick Ross, who have been subliminally beefing for years, started pushing and shoving backstage. The fight escalated in the parking lot, shots were heard and a shooter was arrested. To be honest, I was impressed — I had no clue Rick Ross was in good enough physical shape to be throwing haymakers.

In the end, rappers will be rappers. Cappadonna, long time Wu-Tang Clan affiliate, said it best. Speaking to MTV after the 2000 Source Awards, he lamented, “Brothers still can’t get along. Brothers gotta hold hands for a while, man. Stop poppin’ each other like that, or else we ain’t never gonna get anywhere.” Gandhi couldn’t have said it better.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.