“I have always said that our culture is our greatest asset…I am a proud product of it and a fearless protector of it.” On June 20th, 2019 these words echoed throughout the stage as T.I received the honorary ASCAP Voice of the Culture award. The award, presented by political pundit, Angela Rye, is the first of its kind and celebrates a member of the ASCAP community who has made great strides in influencing both music and culture.
Fittingly, T.I’s philanthropic efforts were on full display during last night’s gala video tribute, in which ASCAP highlighted the work he has done through his non-profit, Harris Community works. From helping inmates, to formerly incarcerated persons, to single mothers, and children in need- T.I has done it all-and his acceptance speech emphasized the importance of everyday people following in his footsteps and using their wealth to invest back into their community .
Following, T.I’s much deserved tribute and honorary award, history was made. Cardi B became the first female rapper to win the ASCAP Songwriter of the Year Awards as well as took home major consecutive wins for her singles “Money,” “Bodak Yellow,” and “Bartier Cardi,” . In true Cardi fashion, her acceptance speech was full of lighthearted fun and reflection. Upon winning, she broke down what it has been like to develop as an artist as well as come into her own and be recognized as an international superstar, stating, “Sometimes I gotta see it and feel it myself.” She even ended the night by reminding everyone what made her so successful, staying true to herself, “Everybody always wants to say I made it because of this or made it because of that. I made it because I worked my a** off … Thank you very much, ASCAP. This is an honor for me.”
As the first woman in hip-hop to win such a prestigious award, this win breaks down several barriers, something Cardi addressed to the crowd while receiving her award, ““Sometimes I feel like I’m not doing too much because when it comes to female rappers, it’s like you’re never doing too much or they’re always pitting you against another female rapper”
But the night didn’t end there, in fact it just got started. After Cardi graced the stage, Bronx rapper A-Boogie wit Da Hoodie lamented the stage with 3D raindrops and flashing lights as he performed a live version of his Billboard charting hit- ‘Look Back At It’. Joelle James then slowed things down with an acoustic rendition of “Boo’d Up” right before gospel artist Jekalyn Carr took us to church with her hit “You Will Win.”
Following the musical festivities of the night, some of the industry’s biggest stars came out. Everyone from Migos, to City Girls and PNB Rock and more received credit for writing their summertime radio anthems. Migos took home a large number of awards for songs like “Stir Fry”, “Bad and Boujee”, and “Walk It like I Talk It.” While City Girls took home big wins for their charting singles Act Up and PNB Rock accepted his award for his hit single with Meek Mill and Jeremiah, “Dangerous.”
It was a star studded and eventful night, and a perfect way to culminate the 60th anniversary celebration of Motown Records. The landmark night honored those who have made it possible for artists to strive behind the scenes in this industry. Greats such as Berry Gordy Jr, founder of Motown Records, was honored for his contributions he has made over the last three decades to the label and the music world. While Quality Control CEO’s Coach K and Pee honored Motown president Ethiopia Habtemariam for her work she has done in bringing out many of the biggest names in hip-hop and R&B, a perfect way to end an extraordinary night of appreciation.