I got an email this morning about the 12th annual Justo’s Mixtape Awards. My first reaction was, they’re still doing this shit?
So apparently, you can go to www.TheJustos.com and nominate your favorite DJs in a bunch of different categories, ranging from Club Mixtape DJ of the Year to Mixtape Graphics Designer of the Year, and so on. The categories are pretty extensive. It’s like the grammys over there. I suggest everyone go check it out and nominate whoever you feel is deserving, or at the very least, your mans ‘n em from around the way who, ya’know, likes to “DJ and shit…”
Not to make this a “remember when” entry…. ah fuck it, remember when the mixtape awards was fucking popping?
I didn’t go to my first mixtape awards until January of 2004 or so. So I was dumb late, like 10 years late, to the party. But I remember standing outside in the freezing cold, in snow (not unlike what it looks like in New York right this very second as I’m writing this). It was at Club Speed, and the cops had shut the whole block down, there was a line around the corner. I was with Raekwon’s DJ at the time (my man Storm, locked up now, hold your head), so somehow I wound up skipping the entire line (actually not much of a somehow, my dude just handed the security guy a crisp 20 dollar bill).
I remember meeting Saigon, Tru Life, Skillz, Mims, Pitbull, and a whole bunch of other artists and executives in there (remember: this is 2004, other than Pitbull nobody was signed yet, and executives still had jobs in the music industry). I had a group and a mixtape, and beats, that I was pushing, and it was a great experience. I thought the event could have obviously gone a little smoother, but it was some rap shit, what do you expect?
A year later, the Mixtape Awards officially jumped the shark, taking place smack dab in the middle of 42nd street, at BB Kings, and honoring Diddy. I was like, are you serious? That’s the anti-thesis of what the mixtape awards are supposed to be about.
Then Justo died. And shit got all fucked the fuck up. But people in his camp wanted to keep the awards alive, which I thought was an excellent idea. So late in 2006, they held another outing of the awards at The Apollo, in Harlem, and Tony Yayo came with the goons and bumrushed the door, and it was a wrap after that. Inside, the vibe was poor. DJs dissing each other. Radio personalities who were presenting awards, dissing the DJs who won. DJs throwing shots at other DJs while on stage.
Basically, the DJ community, which always showed love and support for one another (with little spats and petty beefs mixed in), started acting like rappers. The DJs had gotten too big. The DJs role in hip-hop, had become bigger than the mixtape awards.
“Nah son, fuck this mixtape award shit, give me a grammy. I rock with TI and Ludacris. I’m the king of the clubs. I’m international. I’m this, I’m that, I’m blah blah blah….”
Last year, the awards returned. The organizers kept the location sort of a secret, so that the goons– pushing that crack music– would stay away. I heard it went down without a hitch, but I didn’t attend the event, and the coverage of it was scattered.
Which all lead me to thinking, are the Mixtape Awards still relevant? I mean, at this point it seems like every region in the United States has their own award show to put on– “Madison, Wisconsin Hip-Hop Awards Taking Place This Weekend!” It’s kind of ridiculous, the Derrrty Awards, and such.
Plus, mixtapes and mixtape DJs have gone so mainstream that to award people for them seems pretty difficult. The range of DJs and genres needs to be so inclusive, so wide, in order to really make sense.
Still, I think the Mixtape Awards serve a purpose. And I’m glad they’re doing it again this year. The Justo brand was hurt, big time, by that debacle in 2006. And last year they made their way back to regaining respectability. Let’s hope this year builds on that.
The 12th Annual Mixtape Awards will take place April 29th. You can go to the theJustos.com right now and nominate your favorite DJs.