For the second time in its six-year history, the TC Hip Hop Awards is making headlines, not for its overwhelmingly positive purpose, which is to unite disparate artists across the spectrum of Minnesota hip-hop, but instead because of fights started by a small segment of its attendees. A few awards and performances were still left undelivered Friday when a melee broke out in the center of First Avenue’s Mainroom and continued outside the club, prompting police to respond to the scene and pull the plug on the show.
“It took six years to build, but only two minutes to destroy!” awards show organizer David “DEPth” Powell posted to his Facebook. “Today we all need to do some soul searching and figure out where are we headed as a community!”
Powell founded the TC Hip Hop Awards in 2007 as a way to bring different segments of the local hip-hop community together under the same roof, and his efforts have helped shine a light on an expansive and diverse rap scene that extends far beyond the oft-lauded artists on the powerhouse Rhymesayers label.
Larry Lucio, Jr., who consults hip-hop artists and works with community outreach programs through his business Amplified Life, volunteered to help manage the stage on Friday night and witnessed some of the fighting first hand. “At one point I heard our host, Chris Styles of KMOJ 89.9 FM, yelling into the crowd assertively, trying to encourage them to stop whatever it was that they were doing, at which point everybody basically turned to the dance floor,” he says. “The lights in First Avenue came up, and from my perch on the stairs at stage left I could see that security were trying to keep what looked like two groups of people apart, trying to keep them from fighting. There were men involved, there were women involved. I saw a woman hit a man, I saw a lot of shoving as well.”
Staff working at the club that night reported that tasers were involved in the skirmish, and zapping noises can indeed be heard in video footage of the fight, which was been uploaded to YouTube.
“We were waiting for Mike Dreams to start his performance, and I think we had just got done giving the St. Paul Mayor award to Illicit when they shut us down,” Lucio reports. “Everybody seemed to leave peacefully. The performers who were in attendance got their awards. I saw DEPth give the bag of trophies that the Rhymesayers crew hadn’t picked up from years past, so they got those awards finally, which was a good thing. And the staff were courteous to me, and they seemed to be courteous to everyone else.”
All of the 2012 TC Hip Hop Award winners, including those who weren’t presented during Friday night’s truncated ceremony, will be announced tonight on KMOJ’s Tite at Nite between 7 and 10 p.m. Additionally, a series of collaborative music videos created for the event called the 2012 TC Cypher can be viewed online here and here.
In related news, this year’s TC Hip Hop Awards honored slain rapper Quincy Blue with a posthumous award, inviting his 10-year-old son to perform a special tribute during the ceremony. It’s been seven months since Blue was murdered and there are still no leads in his homicide case; both St. Paul police and Blue’s family are pleading with the community and hoping someone will come forward with information about the case. More on that story here.