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Philly Hip-Hop Awards honors who's hot and finds the next stars

Schoolly D will get a tribute at the awards show.  Credit: Philly Hip-Hop Awards Schoolly D will get a tribute at the awards show.
Credit: Philly Hip-Hop Awards

Welcome to the new frontier of Philly hip-hop.

That’s the word from organizers of the 2013 Philly Hip-Hop Awards, which will take place Dec. 15 at TLA on South Street.

In other words, it’s no longer acceptable to climb up on stage, spit eight bars and drop the mic. Rappers now have to come with a performance, says event chairwoman Sonya McDuffie.


“The scene is turning over and the talent level is definitely very up right now,” McDuffie says. “Audiences are more discriminating about how they spend their dollars.”

So, after a decade or two of street rhymes delivered with little affectation, if you want to be heard, you have to deliver your rhymes with a little more pizzazz. Call it the Drake effect — the former actor both raps and sings.

“Ja Rule couldn’t get away with [singing and rapping],” McDuffie says. “50 Cent went at him and [Ja Rule] was regarded as soft. Now, audiences expect it.”

The awards night will include tributes to city heritage artists like Schoolly D, E.S.T. and Major Figgas, and performances from multi-talented new blood, including K-Dot Da Showstoppa, the bearded bard of the streets, and Asia Sparks, who has stamina, smarts and sex appeal.

“Showstoppa, he’s a hardcore street rapper but he’s highly entertaining. He understands showmanship,” McDuffie says. “Asia Sparks, you’re going to love her. She’s already on BET, and she’s very much an artist you’ll hear about going national. Catch her now before that happens.”

The crew at Urban Celebrity magazine has their ears to the ground and their eyes on the stars. Led by Jimmy DaSaint, they produce several shows a year; this is their third year putting on the Philly Hip-Hop Awards, which has been around in various forms since 1999.

2013 Philly Hip-Hop Awards
Dec. 15, 5 p.m
Theatre of Living Arts
334 South St.

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