Last evening (June 26) was a big night for Mike Will Made It and Warner/Chappell Music. The songwriter/producer was named songwriter of the year and his publishing firm was crowned publisher of the year at the 27th annual ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Awards. Held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, the ceremony also featured special presentations honoring artist/songwriter/producer Jermaine Dupri and singer/songwriter/producer Ne-Yo, recipients of ASCAP’s prestigious Founders Award and Golden Note Award, respectively.
This is the first time in 13 years that Warner/Chappell has won the Rhythm & Soul publisher crown. It’s also the first year the company has claimed that award at three ASCAP ceremonies: Rhythm & Soul, Country and Pop. Collectively, WCM songwriters took home 21 Most Performed Songs awards last night. Mike Will Made It wrote seven of those, including “Bandz a Make Her Dance,” “Love Me,” “Pour It Up” and “Body Party.” Kendrick Lamar followed with five, including “Poetic Justice” and “Swimming Pools (Drank),” and Jay Z with four including Top Rap Song honoree “Holy Grail,” which he co-wrote with No ID, Justin Timberlake, The-Dream and Timbaland.
“It’s pretty humbling to come in and win three publisher awards in a single year,” WCM president, North America Jon Platt tells Billboard. “But it’s a testament to our songwriters’ great talent and work. The reality is we’re just beginning.” Platt joined WCM in 2012 after 17 years with EMI Music Publishing. His first signing after that move was Mike Will Made It.
Nabbing the award for Top R&B/Hip-Hop Song was “Blurred Lines,” penned by Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke and T.I. On the gospel front, the top most-performed song was “Testimony,” written by singer Anthony Brown.
Opening remarks by ASCAP president/chairman Paul Williams kicked off the evening. Following a performance of several of his songs by Jennifer Hudson and Mario, Ne-Yo accepted the Golden Note award from ASCAP VP of Rhythm & Soul/Urban Music Nicole George-Middleton. “I still think I need to do more,” Ne-Yo told the audience. “I’ve got more songs to write because I want to feel worthy of this.” In accepting his songwriter of the year kudos, Mike Will Made It talked about his early vision “to take over music and push it forward for the next generation. I wanted a diverse sound. That’s what I came in trying to do.”
The evening’s highlight was the presentation of the Founders Award to Jermaine Dupri featuring surprise performers Bow Wow and Usher. Sending women running to the front of the room with a brief performance of his Dupri co-written and co-produced hit “Confessions Part II,” Usher noted that Dupri “puts his heart and time into his songs; they’re real. Without JD, I would never have become a writer my damn self.”
A tuxedoed Dupri said the honor had “seemed like it was too far away for me to catch” after watching former Founder recipients like Quincy Jones and Steve Wonder accept the award. “That’s the part that fucking me up right now. But regardless of what happens from here, I’m going to enjoy this evening like a motherfucker.”