by Jeff Niesel
Talk about stimulating the economy. Derrick McKenzie, the main organizer behind the 8th Annual Ohio Hip-Hop Awards, estimates “at least 400 people” will be coming into Cleveland this week for the big three-day celebration that culminates with an awards ceremony at the Ohio Theatre on Sunday. Not bad for an event that started small.
“The first year was just sporadic,” McKenzie says of the event, which was held at the now-shuttered Metropolis. About 1200 people attended that first ceremony but the event was simply a one-day affair. By the second year, the Ohio Hip-Hop Awards grew and was held at the Galleria. It’s grown each year since its inception.
The event kicks off tomorrow at 7 p.m. with a VIP event at House of Blues Cambridge Room. Anatomy in the Warehouse District will host a CD release party for Amongst Kings, and that event will be open to the public. Also that evening, Kevin Black, a former vice president of urban marketing at Interscope (McKenzie says he’s “kind of a big deal in the music business”) will hold one-on-one meetings with up-coming acts.
On Saturday, the “Learn 2 Earn” music conference will provide people with “all the information they need on the music industry,” as McKenzie puts it. At night, Earth Nightclub will host an industry showcase featuring 40 different acts. “That will be packed,” says McKenzie. “For a local show, that is huge.”
Sunday will feature a red carpet event at 4 p.m. at the Ohio Theatre and then the awards ceremony starts at 6 p.m. Several acts are slated to perform.
“Our mission statement is to stimulate the growth of the Ohio hip-hop industry and to provide education to help advance the scene of Ohio music, which is growing,” McKenzie says. “The scene here is better than what people think. We want to bring all the connections here. ”