The Recording Academy held is second annual Black Music Collective event Thursday (Feb. 2) at the Hollywood Palladium, where Dr. Dre, Missy Elliott, Lil Wayne and Epic Records CEO Sylvia Rhone were this year’s honorees during an evening honoring hip-hop and the past, present and future of Black music.
Established in 2020, the Black Music Collective “is a hub for power players in Black music, across all genres, under the Grammy roof, bringing together creative geniuses and business leaders to set unified goals, align on a shared agenda, and build community.” Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. told Billboard on the black carpet that he hopes this event, which was first held in Las Vegas last year, “continues to be a place people want to gather and want to celebrate Black excellence. I want this to be known as a place where we honor and respect Black music, and I hope that people will realize that the Academy is paying close attention to what’s happening in our music industry in every genre, but specifically in Black music.”
There were as many examples of Black excellence in the audience as there were on stage, including Lil’ Kim, Lucky Daye, Joey Bada$$, Ebonie Ward and many more, who were all deliciously treated to a menu dedicated to the honorees’ craft, including the “Carter III (Triple C’s)” (cornbread with crab and caviar), “Up in Smoke” (free range chicken with truffle BBQ sauce and pineapple), “California Love” (crispy cauliflower with BBQ miso glaze and benne) and “Sock It 2 Me” (chocolate wavy waffle with roasted plantain gelato). Among all the glitz and glam, Swizz Beatz praised “Queen” “Sylvia Rhone the Great” before commanding the audience to give her a standing ovation and twirling the executive on stage before presenting her with the Recording Academy Global Impact Award.
“It’s been a lot of years for me in hip-hop, and it’s even more special to me amongst this elite group of artists with Dr. Dre, Missy Elliott, Lil Wayne, each of whom I’ve had the privilege of working with throughout my career,” she said, adding how she was “excited for the future of Epic Records. And yes, that includes Future, but Future’s not in his seat yet, but I must say Future has had an amazing year…. And then along with Travis Scott and 21 Savage, we are starting to build a really strong hip-hop roster. But it’s nights like these that keep me revitalized. They serve as a powerful reminder that hip-hop was a calling. As we celebrate its 50th anniversary, it’s gratifying to see how far we actually have come. Rising from the embers of the Civil Rights Movement, hip-hop emerged as a revolutionary art form. What was once thought to be a momentary effect is now embedded in the fabrics of our daily lives, from fashion and shoes to film to fine art to television to technology and beyond. We have made history. We have changed lives. We are mighty. And we are worldwide.”
Busta Rhymes praised Rhone for believing in his vision when it came to filming outrageous, multimillion-dollar music videos and encouraged everyone at the Palladium to “f–k the cool sh–” and “undo your little bowtie” as he performed “Put Your Hands Where Your Eyes Can See,” “I Know What You Want,” his verse from Chris Brown‘s “Look at Me Now” and “Pass the Courvoisier, Part II” with Jermaine Dupri on stage.
Ciara and Mona Scott-Young then introduced Missy, with Ci Ci hailing her as “the true definition of a legend, an icon, an ultimate rockstar” and Scott-Young recalling a phone call she received from Rhone 26 years ago about managing Missy, a fruitful relationship that continues to this day. “You have changed the world, changed the way we see ourselves, changed the way we experience music. And for that, I thank you,” she said before the “Work It” MC tearfully accepted her award on stage while Wayne bowed down to her in the audience.
“This will never get old to me. I’ve won a lot of awards and I feel the same way,” she said while choking back sobs. “People don’t understand that this is a Global Impact Award. It’s not just neighborhood, it’s global. So it hits different when you stand up here, knowing that when you get something like this, you gotta know that you’ve been through a lot.”
Chloe Bailey paid homage to Missy’s production credits by performing a cover of Aaliyah‘s “One in a Million” as well as “One Minute Man,” while Tweet sang “Oops (Oh My)” and Ciara returned to the stage to perform double duty on their hit singles “1, 2 Step” and “Lose Control.”
Mason Jr. then introduced Dr. Dre, whom he called “one of the founding fathers of modern music” and a super producer he looked up to. “To tell you the truth, I was a little bit nervous when Harvey called me about this award because I was wondering if he knew something I didn’t. I was thinking to myself that they usually give this type of sh– to dead people,” he wisecracked, the venue erupting with laughter and later applause when prompted by Dre to “make some noise for hip-hop” in honor of the genre’s 50th anniversary. “The birth of hip-hop completely changed the course of my life. Just imagine where a lot of Black men, including myself, would be without hip-hop. I was in junior high school when I had ever heard hip-hop for the first time. I heard mixing and scratching, I couldn’t get enough of that sound. And once I got my hands on the turntables, I knew I had found my wings and I was determined to know how to fly.”
Snoop Dogg took it back to the ’90s with a performance of Dre’s debut solo single “Deep Cover” and continued the West Coast hip-hop celebration by bringing up Kurupt for “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang” and Ty Dolla $ign, who was wearing a Nate Dogg T-shirt, for “Ain’t No Fun (if the Homies Can’t Have None).”
DJ Khaled repeatedly proclaimed, “They didn’t believe in us, but Lil Wayne did!” as a revised mantra from their three-time Grammy-nominated song “God Did.” He proceeded to tell the story about how he witnessed Wayne meet Birdman at Odyssey, a record store in New Orleans that Khaled used to work at and DJ behind the counter. “The reason why I want to tell you that story is the consistency is Lil Wayne. The word ‘winner’ is Lil Wayne,” he said, exalting him for signing the next generation of superstars Drake and Nicki Minaj, the former of whom appeared via video and took a subtle dig at the Recording Academy by falsely presenting the Global Impact Award to Ed Sheeran.
“Good evening, Grammys. Wow, I haven’t said that since about 2016. My name’s Drake and I’m here tonight on behalf of the Black Music Collective,” he smirked while pulling his glasses down to wink at the camera, “to present the Global Impact Award to Ed Sheeran.” Then a man appears to Drake’s right and whispers in his ear. “Lil Wayne? Lil Wayne. Oh, makes sense,” Drizzy corrects himself sarcastically. “My brother — that’s a lot better, by the way — I love you so much. And I don’t want to make this personal because the Global Impact Award would be about how you affected everybody not just me. I know I probably get annoying with saying how much you mean to me and my family. I speak on behalf of everybody when I say our careers, our cadences, our melodies, maybe our face tats or our outfits or our decisions in general would not have been the same without your natural gift to just be yourself.”
Wayne’s daughter Reginae Carter contributed to the outpouring of love for Wayne, telling Billboard on the carpet earlier that evening, “I’ve been texting my daddy like every other day like, ‘I’m so proud of you. Congrats.’ You see the rapper, you don’t see the father much,” she explained. “He’s always been big on my education, big on just how I carry myself. I thank him and my mom for the woman that I became today.”
But while 2 Chainz performed their “Duffle Bag Boyz” collab, Swizz got back on the mic to rap their “Uproar” joint and former Young Money signee Tyga paid tribute to him by performing “A Milli” with a full band courtesy of the night’s musical director Adam Blackstone, Wayne remained in disbelief at the recognition.
“I want y’all to know that I don’t get honored. Where I’m from, New Orleans, you’re not supposed to do this,” the “Lollipop” rapper cautioned the audience sincerely before running down a long list of thank you’s, including his children and their mothers, his manager and Young Money Entertainment president Mack Maine, his former manager and Blueprint Group CEO Cortez Bryant and Cash Money Records. “Coming from New Orleans, Cash Money Records was if you was from Dallas and you just got signed to the Cowboys. They signed me when I was 12. I put out my first album when I was 13. This man Khaled had to tell you about that record store. The reason why I would be in that record store was because we didn’t have a picture on the front of the album cover, so to prove to my homies and to my friends at school that it’s really me, we had to go to the record store, I have to show them the album, flip it around and show them it says ‘Dwayne Carter.’ That man Khaled was in there every time, he witnessed that. Ladies and gentlemen, again, we don’t get honored.”