NEW YORK — For the second year in a row, DJ Kay Slay, a.k.a. the Drama King, was dubbed the mixtape king. Unfortunately for Slay and the spectators at the seventh annual Mixtape Awards, a backstage scuffle forced the show to end before he could be presented with the honor.
At the Hammerstein Ballroom on Tuesday night, a sense of unity was being promoted amongst many of the top turntablists, who help the hip-hop community thrive. It was a night to give them recognition for the beloved offerings they bestow upon the streets: mixtapes (which are now distributed in CD form).
Despite the show starting almost two hours later than its advertised 8 p.m. time, the proceedings were rolling: A few performances took place and awards were being handed out. Then it was time to present the honor for Best Artist on a Mixtape 2K2.
While Easy Mo Bee, with the legendary Chuck Chillout in tow, was reading the list of nominees, a fracas began backstage. You could see a few bodies popping out from behind a curtain, one of which was DJ Kay Slay's. He started getting into a boxing-style fighting stance when somebody broke up the fray. According to the show's promoter, Justo Faison, Slay and Pudgee P — who earlier in the evening won the award for the Best Mixtape Personality 2K2 — had a confrontation. "When you bring two egos together, that's what you get," Faison assessed. "It don't have to be like that, but sometimes it happens. They had a little squabble and it was over."
Not only was their altercation over, but so was the Mixtape Awards. Slay promptly came to a podium on the stage and announced that it was time to go home. "This is over, goodnight. Everybody have a nice night!" he exclaimed in a huff and walked off the stage.
Moments later one of hip-hop's founding fathers, Kool Herc, took the mic and gave a diatribe on the dissension in the ranks of DJs. "We all brothers," Herc said of the feuding, which has been publicly brewing for months, most notably among the two biggest spinners, Slay and DJ Clue. "Y'all need to stop that bullsh--, man. Clue and Kay Slay need to stop that sh--. [Jam Master] Jay's not even here and y'all showing that same ni--a sh--. Kay Slay, you're my man, but leave that penny-ante sh-- alone. If Clue was about anything, his ass would be here and this would be televised on MTV." (Clue, who boycotted the event, has publicly denounced the awards and said he asked that his name be taken off the ballots because of what he claims to be a "bogus voting process and flagrant exploitation of the labels to get a check out of the situation.")
Kay Slay then returned to the mic to give his side of what happened. "I ain't letting no f---ing punk from nowhere talk no sh-- to me," Kay explained. "F--- 'The Drama King,' my name is Keith. Respect comes first and I don't give a f--- where a n---a disrespect me, if he disrespect me right there he gets the sh-- beat out of him right there."
"You won't be a lesser man if you handle it another way rather than letting the sh-- go on," Herc pleaded with Kay. "Sometimes you're hot, you can't say what you want to say. That's all, young man. You absorb it and handle it another time. That's all, just hold onto it. Brother, we gotta work this out. It's uncalled for."
While the bewildered crowd was clearing out, Justo, who was disappointed about how things ended abruptly, remained optimistic about next year's awards. "If you separate them dudes, it goes on," he said. "But I figured we just shut it down for now and get everybody out. Every year we learn something. This is the seventh year, the first year we've had any type of incident. We gonna do some things different next year, bottom line. I don't think [the show] was bad. I think we should put a [boxing] ring up here once a year and people that have a problem can deal with it."
The afterparty was at Nyla, the restaurant formerly owned by Britney Spears (see "Britney Spears Bails On Her New York Restaurant, Nyla"), and the rest of the plaques were given out there.
Among the awards that were presented during the show were Best Graphics, given to J-Love; Best DJ Producer, which went to Ron G, who beat out Clue; and Best Radio Mixtape DJ, which was handed to Enuff.