Cypher to Stage


The Ohio Valley Hip-Hop Awards annually acknowledges local Hip-Hop/Rap artists and producers in the area. Calculated from 3 criteria:  online voting, industry judges, and local judges, this year’s talent-infested event features 7 categories consisting of 22 artistsArtist of the Year, Duo or Group of the Year, Best New Artist, Mixtape/Album of the Year, Video of the Year, and Lyricist of the Year.  Other categories offered are Best Retail Spot, which recognizes retail stores that support, serve, and promote the scene as part of their business, and Best Venue/Nightclub. Also this year,  in collaboration with Cloud 9 Salon & Spa, there will be modeling contests for ages 12- 17 and 18 & above, recognizing that there are different types, sizes, colors, and shapes to beauty, promoting any individual who owns, celebrates, and expresses their own particular brand.

Emerging from an earlier event, the Ohio Valley Hip Hop Awards serve a noticeable need.  In 2011, when The Ohio Valley African American Students Association had their first Hip-Hop Showcase as a successful fundraiser, artists and audience members acknowledged the importance of the hip hop community, and the growing number of artists representing it, and The Movement was materialized.  The creative and artistic wing of OVAASA, The Movement, with the use of Youth Services System’s recording studio, made their first mixtape with all local artists. The Movement’s momentum to recognize, honor, and encourage artists in the area and to provide them with an event to showcase and legitimize their efforts proved to be beneficial when they received a stipend through Show of Hands, which set them full steam ahead.

Along with online voting, which you can do here, winners will also be determined by industry judges  – Statement Record’s Mista Scrap, a battle emcee and 2010 Rhyme Cal 8 Champion, Janelle Cutler, owner of ShoeDIVA Boutique, who has a passion to  provide stylish, affordable shoes for all women, and who has participated in New York Fashion Week and Eye on Glam, Jay Johnson, who has owned and operated promotional network, and Jason Smith, Assistant Professor at Bethany College whose majority of early graduate work revolved around Hip Hop, Race, and Gender. They will be joined by local judges to weed out the winners.  Along with Anthony Baker, Claudell Whetstone and Mz. New York, Chermayne Davis, both of whom I have personally worked with, will be divvying up their decisions. Claudell, who has worked with almost every hip hop artist in the area, also showed off his skills at a local slam poetry show that I set up, awing the audience with the twist, turns, and talent of his  storytelling. Also participating in the slam show, more than just a poet, but a planner, promoter, party host, professional, Chermayne continues to empower and inspire.

Sponsored by The Movement, which supports artists of all ages and their interests in the Ohio Valley and shines a light on often invisible entertainers, Show of Hands, a community supported micro-granting program for organizations and individuals developing projects that will impact downtown Wheeling or  surrounding neighborhoods, Reinvent Wheeling, the largest partnership to focus on downtown Wheeling that has over 50 active volunteers representing more than two dozen of the areas businesses, corporations, community organizations, colleges and universities, and cultural institutions, retail store Alpha, SHoeDIVA, Hot Rod Tattooing, who I personally go to for my body art, the Ohio Valleys oldest professional tattoo/body piercing studio, under the ownership of John “Sweet Chuck” Schorr, and C.A. House Music, a full service music store that has been operating in the Ohio Valley region since 1872, the Ohio Valley Hip Hop Awards  will take place Saturday, February 20th, at 7:30 P.M. at the McClure Hotel Ballroom in Wheeling, WV.  With performances by Poetic Peth, LaRon, and Corey Vance, come see who will reign supreme from submissions to sole winners.  Hosted by Ron Scott, Jr., who understands that “events like this one are good because with this particular genre, in this area, artists are making music purely for the love – no venues, radio stations, or local businesses support Hip-Hop. This is the only opportunity for them to get acknowledgment from their peers and others, that aren’t family and friends, about their art.” 

Hoping to help out such under-acknowledged artists, “the community benefits by showing how inclusive they are by allowing this event to be showcased in their community regardless of the stereotypes and stigmas associated with the Hip-Hop culture.” Following the lead of the BET Hip Hop Awards, promoting the project, you can hear from the artists via a cypher: “An old tradition in Hip-Hop where groups of MCs get in a circle and spit their best stuff. It’s how a lot of them show their skills if they don’t know anyone with a studio or any recording equipment,” Ron explains. If The Movement is shining the light on hip hop, I’m happy to provide the backup batteries to keep the connection going so that we can all see a sustainable scene, because I know if we give these artists a chance, they’re capable of shining on their own.


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