The Red Lion Hotel on I-225 and Parker, the venue that hosted last night's 5280 Urban Music Awards, is just west of nowhere. Really, it's in southeast Aurora, but to an inner city gal like me, it might as well have been in Kansas. Having beat around the bush long enough, I arrived about an hour into the already delayed festivities.
Making my way through an array of women in the lobby wearing the tightest of skirts and the highest of heels, I entered the ballroom where the awards were underway. After hanging out in the back by myself for a while, I ran into a quiet and mischievous looking Graffiti Black, who informed me he was waiting for the perfect "Kanye" opportunity. I laughed, gave him an encouraged pat on the back, moved closer to watch Rockie's performance and forgot about this conversation until later.
Rockie, backed by DJ Ktone on the decks, performed a new track or two before launching into his club anthem "Loaded," which had all the pretty girls bouncing and all the men nodding with enthusiasm. Rockie took home the award for "Song of the Year" with "Loaded," and in his acceptance speech said the most telling thing of the night: Bringing his son on stage with him, he proclaimed, "I do it for him. You might not like how I do it, but I make music for a good reason."
There were several other performers, including J-Blev and R&B singer Dae Dai, but it was Julox who set the place on fire. He wandered down the center aisle, climbed up onto the front of the stage and instructed KDJ Above, who was deejaying the whole evening, to "play something." He seemed to really enjoy himself, especially after leading damn near everyone in the audience (and their mama) through a rousing set of "gangsta walking."
Hosting the event was Reality, a poet from the scene who did the best he could in corralling the attention of the audience. The house was packed to the rafters, but very few people were sitting, choosing instead to mill about greet one another in family reunion style. There was a smattering of boos from Pries' camp when the emcee's name was mispronounced (as "Prize"), and the same went for Nyke Nitti and a few other cats. Reality did not give a damn, preferring to remind the people of the heavy police presence outside and to not "act a fool."
As evening wore on, the sound system worsened, and so did the attention span of the audience. The videographer portion came and went rather quickly with Lenny Lenn giving a humble speech about unity in hip-hop. By this time, I had found a seat with the guys from Jewell Tyme for some cheers and jeers, and before long, we were joined by Graffiti Black. The award for producer of the year (which went to Mo' Heat) was announced and before anyone could think otherwise, Graffiti sauntered up to the stage, slowly grabbed the mike and said, "I knew I was always destined to be on this stage, and I have a few things to say...."
He was met with thunderous applause and laughter until Reality cut his mike, and he was ushered off the stage by the staff of 1600 Entertainment, who proceeded to have a heated conversation with him until Graffiti's publicist stepped in to help cool things down.
The 5280 Urban Music Awards brought out a good portion of the scene for which the awards were created and seemed to accomplish the goal of bringing together the city's finest. While a bit disorganized and incredibly off schedule, those who won were gracious and those who were nominated were thankful.
Click through for more pictures and a complete list of winners.