Ne-Yo, Chris "Tricky" Stewart" and The-Dream shared honors as songwriters of the year at ASCAP's 23rd annual Rhythm & Soul Music Awards. This year's ceremony, held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles (June 25), also saluted special honorees Dr. Dre and Janelle Monae.

The celebration of the most performed ASCAP songs on the 2009 R&B/hip-hop, rap and gospel charts included presenting the inaugural song of the decade award to Mariah Carey's mega hit and Grammy Award-winning "We Belong Together," written by Jermaine Dupri, Johnta Austin and Manuel Seal. Also given out were awards for top rap song, "Best I Ever Had" written by Matthew "Boi-1da" Samuels; top R&B/hip-hop song, "Blame It" written by Christopher Henderson, Brandon "Note" Melancon, The-Dream, Tricky Stewart and Nate Walka and top gospel song, "Souled Out" written by Ernest Estee Bullock. For the 16th consecutive year, EMI Music Publishing was named publisher of the year with 22 award-winning songs.

Songwriter/producer Jimmy Jam presented the songwriter of the year award to Ne-Yo, Stewart and The-Dream, who tied with six songs each. Ne-Yo won the award for the first time for penning such songs as "Miss Independent," Keri Hilson's "Knock You Down" and Jennifer Hudson's "Spotlight." In addition to "Blame It," songwriting/production duo Stewart and The-Dream were honored for such songs as Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)" and Fabolous' "Throw It in the Bag." Rapper T.I. presented the song of the decade award to fellow Atlantans Austin, Dupri and Seal.

After DJ Kid Capri spun a medley chronicling Dr. Dre's career, surprise guest Eminem co-presented the Founders Award to the hip-hop pioneer with ASCAP president/chairman Paul Williams. "Dre's music speaks to me in a way I can't describe; he's an incredible force in the studio," Eminem told the audience. "It would have been easy for Dre to dismiss me, but he didn't and I'm grateful. He changed music but also my life." In accepting the award, Dr. Dre thanked fans for letting him "make a living doing what I love. I've collaborated with some of the most talented people in the industry, and I've got more to come." Dre joins such previous Founders honorees as Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney.

OutKast's Big Boi, together with ASCAP VP of membership/Rhythm & Soul Nicole George, presented the Vanguard Award to Monae in recognition of the impact of musical genres that help shape the future of American music. Past recipients of the award include Santigold, the Beastie Boys and the Killers.

Providing the evening's entertainment were rapper Gucci Mane, singer/songwriter Dondria and singer Miguel. Among other artists in attendance were Prince, Bruno Mars, Twista, Keyshia Cole, Flo Rida and Twista.