NEW YORK — Imagine going to the Academy Awards and instead of presenter George Clooney simply reading from an envelope and announcing the Best Actress winner, he asks the audience, "Of the nominees, which chick do you think could lay the smackdown on anybody in here?"
That may seem a little thuggish for Tinseltown's finest but for the tastemakers of the hip-hop community, mixtape DJs, it's all a part of their show. Mixtape kings such as DJ Clue and DJ Kay Slay as well as MCs ranging from Mobb Deep and the Wu-Tang Clan to Craig Mack and Sweet Tee flooded New York's Apollo Theater Tuesday night for the sixth annual Mixtape Awards.
"Who's the only DJ that will come onstage right now and smack the sh-- out of anybody on this stage?" Fat Joe, flanked by a dozen of his crew, asked the audience as he presented the Best Mixtape DJ award to DJ Kay Slay, who beat out DJ Clue and DJ Envy.
Although Clue did get the nod for Best Commercial Mixtape and Best Hip-Hop Mixtape, it was clearly not his night. An undercurrent of boos and disparaging banter filled the auditorium whenever his name was mentioned. Maybe he didn't take too kindly to being dissed, or maybe he had a late-night studio session with his protégé Fabolous, but the question mark man did not go onstage to accept any awards.
"They thought he wasn't there, [that] he [wasn't] showing up," awards show organizer Justo Faison offered as a theory for the jeers. Plus, "When you're one of the top guys and you got videos and you eating, people got a little hate," he added. "He's the one who's catching it now."
Slay, the only other multiple award winner, had plenty to say when he hit the stage for his three acceptance speeches. The Harlem DJ, who also won Best Personality on a Mixtape and Best Freestyle on a Mixtape, told the crowd that it should "Salute ni--as when they come up here. This ain't amateur night at the Apollo."
It seemed like everyone wanted to make an impact with the mic, from pioneer DJ Kool Herc schooling all the DJs about paying their dues and making sure they don't undercharge to spin at parties and clubs, to famed producer DJ Premier taking time out to acknowledge that Nas did a fantastic job dissing Jay-Z on "Ether" ("Nas did his thing, he ate him"). Even those who weren't onstage spoke their minds. Whatever was on the minds of the audience members was yelled aloud, from shoutouts to heckles.
Although the winners were announced Tuesday night, no one actually took any awards home — the platinum plaques never made their way into the Apollo. Due to the large turnout, the doors were closed once the show began around 9 p.m. and nobody else was let in, including celebrities like the LOX.
Sixth annual Mixtape Award winners: