Rox: An interview with D. Lorand Jackson about the Ohio Hip-Hop Awards and Music ConferenceWritten by Martini Rox | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the years, we at the Toledo Free Press Star have covered the Ohio Hip Hop Awards (OHHA) and Music Conference in various ways. This year instead of simply telling you what the awards are, I want to give attention to the purpose, intent and focus of the awards.
Since its inaugural year in 2006, the event has become a full-fledged music conference weekend boasting some of the biggest names in the music industry. The opportunity for artists to hear from and ask questions one on one from the likes of J. Grande (RCA), Cynthia Johnson (Columbia Records), Drew Rives (Def Jam), Maurice Harley (Universal) and Kevin Black (CEO Of U Can Fly & formally of Interscope Records), just to name a few.
This was the vision of D. Lorand Jackson of ESP Enterprises, chairman of the Ohio Hip-Hop Awards and the man with the vision behind Ohio’s only recognition of its own Hip-Hop talent.
Working in radio and promoting parties put him in constant contact with local artists. During this time, he was marketing local events and eventually working as a regional representative for The Source magazine. After attending and making contacts at The Source Awards in Los Angeles and Miami, Jackson felt there was a need to acknowledge and provide guidance to the hip-hop talent in his area.
Martini Rox: What do you say to those who feel this is a Cleveland-only awards show?
D.Lorand Jackson: On one level I kind of understand why people say that, just because me and my partners are originally from Cleveland, our business is based in Cleveland and we’ve done the awards show in Cleveland five out of the seven years that we’ve done it. At the same time we can’t help where we’re from or where we live; obviously that’s where we’re going to headquarter our business. The last two years we have done the award show in Columbus for a couple different reasons. One, we felt like Cleveland was taking it for granted in a sense and we wanted to take it on the road somewhere else and get a different experience and Columbus was central to the state [and] has a better economy than Cleveland has going on right now. As far as people saying the awards are slanted towards Cleveland, I would say if you look at the ballot as far as nominees and look at the people who won, it’s pretty evenly distributed. I think it is more so Cleveland people over all, [but] honestly, Cleveland is a bigger market. There (are) more artists working here and Cleveland has more of a structure than the other cities in Ohio. There’s nothing we can do about that; the numbers speak for themselves.
Rox: What changes have you made refine the artist’s experience of the OHHA and Music Conference?
Jackson: Originally when we first started we did the ballot as a paper ballot. We had some knowledge of artists and producers in other markets outside Cleveland but primarily it was heavily based in Cleveland. In 2007 we went to a computer-automated system and we actually started our tour and that’s our “Summer Showcase Tour” we do every June and we go around to all the different major markets in Ohio. We throw these showcases and people compete for the chance to win a performance slot at the main event, which is held in September. Doing that really helped us take the whole movement to the next level. From there we added other components like the music conference.
Rox: Why bring it back to Cleveland this year?
Jackson: This year we decided to bring it back to Cleveland just because of what’s going on in Cleveland. Cleveland has over $10 billion of new economic development going on which is [at the] top of any metro market in the country right now. We have a lot of exciting things going on with the casino, aquarium the new convention center and we wanted to be apart of all that.
For more information on the Ohio Hip-Hop Awards taking place Sept. 20-22 visit www.ohiohiphopawards.com
As we continue on…
Tags: Cynthia Johnson (Columbia Records), D. Lorand Jackson, Drew Rives (Def Jam), Interscope Records, J. Grande (RCA), Kevin Black (CEO of U Can Fly), Martini Rox, Maurice Harley (Universal), Ohio Hip Hop Awards (OHAA) and Music Conference, The Source Awards in Los Angeles, Toledo Free Press Star