D.C. celebrates hip-hop’s finest before the Inauguration

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    There was a party in Washington D.C. on Sunday night at the Hip Hop Summit’s Inaugural Ball, and ladies ruled the celebration!

    Hours before President Barack Obama is set to take the oath of office (for the second time), stars congregated at the Harman Center for the Arts to celebrate hip-hop’s finest. While the Hip Hop Inaugural Ball was decidedly more award show than dance party, organizers still kept things dope!

    With a feel not unlike the BET Honors, LaLa Anthony looked stunning as she kicked off the HIB, which honored entertainers and organizations that lift the people up. Meek Mill, who was dressed completely in black save for his bright yellow shoes,  took home the Community Activist Award for his dedication to uplifting kids.

    After thanking those that supported him, the "Amen" rapper kept his acceptance speech short and sweet, stating, "If I can make a change in a child’s life, I always volunteer to do it."

    Angela Simmons made an elegantly striking presence on the stage in her sequin, collared ball gown as she presented Rosario Dawson with the Vanguard Award for her work with Voto Latino. The actress admitted to the crown that she was a bit nervous about how producers would frame her award, wondering allowed, "Are they going to show that PSA I did with the really bad accent?!"

    As one of the hosts, Terrence J kept the show rolling along as he joked with late comers that were just finding their seats down in front. Once he shifted his attention back to the schedule, he brought Charles S. Dutton, who presented a new trailer for his upcoming flick, Must Be the Music. Since Jadakiss has a role in the movie, where better to present the clip than at the HIB? The film, which Charles said would be released in either May or early June, also stars Tasha Smith and Lisa Wu. But Charles revealed that landing Jadakiss for the movie was tough because he wasn’t exactly familiar with modern hip-hop.

    In fact, Charles said that he once blamed hip-hop for the Black community’s ills, but he humanized the cultural institution by stating that it has matured. He even credited it with having a huge hand in getting President Obama into office, and the next award supported this notion as 2 Chainz was honored with the Street Soldier Award.

    The "No Lie" rapper made it his mission to mobilize ex-offendors to reinstate their own voting rights in cases where such a thing was possible. Beyond that, 2 Chainz also encouraged the urban community at large to become registered voters and head to the polls with the Respect My Vote campaign.

    "I’m kinda excited about being honored for something I did outside of music," 2 Chainz humbly said in acceptance. "As Black men, it is our responsibility to to raise strong men and nurture or daughters."

    Marsha Ambrosius brought the party atmosphere back to the forefront with her performance that featured a taste of "I Hope She Cheats On You," which she joked that President Obama himself requested she perform. And she absolutely slayed her rendition of Michael Jackson’s "Butterflies" with her luminous vocals before exiting stage left.

    Marsha’s performance was right in line with the energy that the ladies brought to the stage on Sunday night. She served as a fitting appetizer for what was to come after ball sponsor Heineken was honored with the Community Catalyst Award and John Legend won the Humanitarian Award.

    As the singular female lyricist honoree, however, it was MC Lyte’s tribute that ruled the evening! Initially presented with little if any fanfare before her intro video, Lil Mama stepped out onto the stage to do "Lip Gloss" before YoYo came out. Then Lil Mama returned to the stage to spit a cypher with a pace that would rival Busta Rhymes and Hot Wheels Guy. And when she ran out of breath, YoYo came back to hype up the crowd even more with a fun rendition of "You Can’t Play With My YoYo" that had the crowd rocking from the front row all the way back.

    With Mc Lyte’s legacy in hip-hop, they couldn’t have brought her out any other way. And Lyte was regally gracious as she accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award. "Please take your seats. You are making me incredibly nervous," Lyte joked with the crowd as she expressed her gratitude to the community as a whole for putting her into a position to accomplish all of the things she has. "I have a loss of words for how you treated me throughout the years. So much love I feel for you."

    Pointing to her business partners, she said, "I have not had a commercially released album since 1998 and Mc Lyte gets her hustle on!" But Mc Lyte saved a special thanks for her mother, whom she calls her "#1 cheerleader," for putting her in every creative class she ever had an interest in. "She was there and she was supportive," Lyte acknowledged.

    The crowd was a little disappointed when Mc Lyte then left the stage, but she returned to applause as she stepped out to do some bars a capella.

    However, Mc Lyte most eloquently captured the theme of the evening in a word of advice she had for up-and-coming lyricists everywhere "To anyone looking to the mic to say something," said Lyte, "you are not just rocking for the block, but you are doing it for the people."

     

     

    —Sonya Eskridge

     

     

     

    Here’s more:

    Inauguration app released

    LaLa and Terrence J host Hip-Hop Inaugural Ball

    Michelle Obama, Jill Biden honor military families

    During Inauguration Weekend Star Jones encourages people to volunteer

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