Don't let the Hip-Hop Honors telecast fool you. The show usually doesn't translate too well onto TV for some reason.

I usually hear a lot of folks trashing the show, but that's because they weren't there to see it live. Had they been front and center when Big Daddy Kane brought Scoob and Scrap out for their classic dance routine a few years back, they may just feel differently. Last night marked my fourth straight year at the honors and I will be there next year. It had a slow start, but now the show just keeps getting better. Sure, you get a bit mad when they don't get the honorees right (did Missy deserve it?), but seeing your favorite groups honored (Tribe, De La for me) makes it all worthwhile. Plus, on the scene, you're like a kid in a candy store. I can  see Kanye, give him and pound and keep it moving. But it's an entirely different experience to meet cats you grew up on. My homie Jesus put it best when he said, "these dudes were like superheroes growing up." I mean, I'm at the bar, turn around and see Pete Rock. I'm at the after party and walk right into Posdnous and Dave from De La. I had to let them know I bought every album from 3 Feet High and Rising to Grind Date. I had to let Treach know Naughty By Nature is the first cassette I ever owned. Anything before that I got from my older brother. What up Gary?

But I'm getting sidetracked here. Things got off to a slow start with Gym Class Heroes' Travis McCoy, Fat Joe and Jim Jones honoring Cypress Hill. It was quite underwhelming. Perhaps because none of the performing artists were truly connected to Cypress. It just wasn't a good fit. "Kill A Man" should have been a highlight, but Capo sluggishly delivered the lyrics and blanked at some points.

Call me biased, but the De La tribute was second to none last night. Q-Tip and Estelle kicked it off with "Saturdays," followed by Public Enemy and Mos Def doing "Stakes Is High" (WOW!) and EPMD finishing things off with "Ego Trip." De La then brought the house down with "Me, Myself And I" and "Buddy" featuring a Q-Tip appearance.

I was hoping to see Doug E. Fresh take part in the Rick The Ruler tribute, but I didn't mind settling for  Ghostface spitting over Biz Markie's beatbox for "La Di Da Di." Always the show men, Bussa Bus and Spliff Starr effortlessly ran through "The Show." Fab and Dana Dane made for an awkward pair, though.  Mc Ricky D then closed his set with "Children Story." I wish he did a second song, though.

I unfortunately missed the Isaac Hayes tribute, but I hear Mos and Scarface did a good job. Too $hort followed up. I have great respect for Short Dog, but I never got into his music coming up, so I couldn't appreciate it as much as the others. But by the looks of things, his fans enjoyed the segment. Lil Jon, Kid Rock and Bun B all took part in it.

Naughty's set opened up with Juelz Santana nearly ruining the set. Dude was stuttering and tripping all over "Everything's Gonna Be Alright." Come to think of it, the Dips weren't on point last night. The thing is, I didn't expect them to be. Oh well! Big Boi saved the set with a flawless rendition of "O.P.P." Treach, Vinnie and Kay Gee then closed out with two of their monstrous anthems, "Uptown Anthem" and "Hip Hop Hooray."

I'm wondering who's next. Will Gang Starr ever get honored? I think they're deserving. What about Pete Rock & CL Smooth? Will they get their turn? Doug E. Fresh has yet to get his. The same goes for Dr. Dre. I initially thought they may run out of honorees, but artists like Eminem, Nelly and Ludacris are nearing their 10-year mark and surely they'll be honored in the future. Some of these acts need to be honored soon, though. Like, are you gonna throw cats on stage when they're 60? I mean, the Rolling Stones do it, but I'm sure some of these pioneers would rather get their turn sooner than later. Still, it's a tricky program to pull off and VH1 does a good job. With the MTV and BET Awards slumping in the last few years, the Hip-Hop Honors have slid into the pole position. It's now the best damn award show, period. Tune in to see it for yourself this coming Monday. But take it for me. If you can, go the actual taping next year. You won't regret it. --Jackpot