Accepting the Icon Award, Swizz exuded humility when speaking on his newest accolade. Fresh off a 17-hour flight from Saudi Arabia, he touched on the importance of learning more and remaining hungry even after noteworthy victories. "All though we might have the accolades, and we might have the track record, there's always going to be somebody with a new idea that can reshape your whole future," he said during his acceptance speech. "I want to continue to inspire and tell all the creators not to be scared."
Comedian Royale Watkins presented D-Nice with the Culture Creator Innovators Award for his impressive run last year. At the start of the pandemic, Nice knitted together a nice marathon set on Instagram Live with R&B, disco, and funk leading the way. Peaking at a staggering 160,000 viewers, D-Nice quipped about how Club Quarantine originally began with 200 people on his Instagram Live and later evolved into a safe space for many, including Michelle Obama, Rihanna, Dwayne Wade, Bernie Sanders, and more,
"I'll tell you a little secret about [Michelle Obama]. She was there because I called," he revealed. "It goes back to being kind to people. That's why a lot of those people were there, like Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders."
Along with Beatz and D-Nice, music industry vet Shanti Das received the Health and Wellness Award. Das started an organization called Silence the Shame, which advocates for mental health awareness. During her speech, she spoke about how she once considered suicide and how receiving this honor was a gratifying moment. She thanked Jon Platt (CEO and chairman of Sony Music Publishing) and Sony Music for making Silence the Shame one of the organizations recognized by Sony's social justice fund.
MBK Entertainment's Jeff Robinson and Jeanine McClean received YouTube's Culture Creators Award. Jimmy Jam presented the award to them both, while H.E.R. made an appearance to cheer on her support system. She chimed in on their efforts in building her career as an R&B powerhouse and relayed how MBK operates as a family.
"Jeff talks the talk and walks the walk," she said. "He pushes me out of my comfort zone constantly. I feel like I'm so protected as an artist, and that's a rare thing." Added Jeanine, "We are truly a family and always making sure that those behind us are given opportunities." Other honorees of the night included Zerina Akers, George Wells, Rikki Hughes, Silence the Shame, Cari Champion, Stefani Brown-James, Stefanie Brown-James, and Kudzi Chikumbu.