For Quincy “Big Heff” Taylor, the Ohio Hip Hop Awards isn’t about the state’s music scene patting itself on the back. It’s about getting the rest of the country to do that.
“I think that we did plant a seed to help build awareness not only just for Ohio artists, but to establish an industry standard for the rest of Ohio that this is a process that is taken very seriously,” Taylor said. “We want to help take careers to the next level.”
Taylor was one of the founders of the event in 2006, when it was based in Cleveland. The ceremony and surrounding festivities moved to Columbus last year, and they’ll return to the capital city this weekend.
Leading up to the actual awards show Sunday evening at the Aladdin Shrine Auditorium is a full weekend of networking, showcases and parties stretching up and down I-670 from Downtown to Port Columbus to Gahanna.
Saturday afternoon’s “Learn to Earn” conference looks to be a highlight. Steve Lobel, who helped shape the careers of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Mariah Carey, Sean Kingston, The Game and more, will be on hand for artist consultations. Representatives from major labels and media outlets will attend an industry showcase featuring artists from across the Midwest, which includes a special R&B showcase for the first time. A film festival and an electronics/applications exhibition are going down, too.
As for the nomination process, Taylor said the organizers reach out to tastemakers, including radio and club DJs plus representatives from around the state, before turning it over to a public vote. The key is finding artists who are genuinely gaining traction.
“Some people who might be hot on the internet might not be hot in the club or on the radio stations,” Taylor said.
Citing major record deals for former OHHA award winners such as Machine Gun Kelly, Ray Jr. and Stalley, Taylor said this year’s event is a chance to witness the next wave of hip-hop stars out of Ohio. Although those rising stars are all from northeast Ohio, Columbus has its own bastion of talent, he said. The key is to get organized.
“We are taking it to a bigger and better level to make things happen for Columbus, for Ohio in general and for the Midwest,” Taylor said.