Earlier this week (August 8), Billboard honored its 2023 R&B/Hip-Hop Power Players list which honors executives and artists across the business including Rookie of the Year honoree, Ice Spice; Executive of the Year honoree, Larry Jackson, founder of gamma.; and Hip-Hop Hall of Fame inductees, Lil Wayne and Nas. The evening also included a concert event celebrating the 50th anniversary of Hip-Hop entitled Billboard R&B Hip-Hop Live with headliner Metro Boomin and additional performances from Coi Leray, Armani White, Offset, NAV and DJ Jadaboo at The Novo in Los Angeles.
In addition to power player honorees and award recipients, guests at the night’s festivities included Brooke Candy, DDG, Derrick Milano, Jason Lee, Jay Rock, Jeleel Yousef, Jharrel Jerome, Kamillion, Maeta, Malibu Babie, Mario, Mike Van (president of Billboard), Naomi Sharon, Sauce Walka, Sexxy Red, Tinashe, Tomi Tribe, Tone Stith, Victoria Monét, Yara Shahidi, among many others.
Billboard’s chief brand officer, Dana Droppo, introduced Gail Mitchell, executive director of R&B/Hip-Hop, to kick-off the awards presentation. Mitchell then brought to the stage L.A. Reid to highlight the achievements of Executive of the Year honoree, Larry Jackson.
Jackson delivered a powerful acceptance speech stating: “For me this is not my award, this an award for us, everybody in this room…this award is for the culture that we love, that we represent.” He added, “I do believe our genre is under siege… and we need to protect it.”
Following Jackson, Heran Mamo, Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop reporter, introduced Rookie of the Year honoree, Ice Spice.
“This is like my first award ever in life,” said Ice Spice. “I’m super proud and I just want to say thank you to my team for always working so hard…thank you everyone here at Billboard and thank you to my fans, period!”
Finally, Mitchell returned to the stage with Billboard’s deputy director, R&B/Hip-Hop, Carl Lamarre, to introduce Hip-Hop Hall of Fame inductees Lil Wayne and Nas.
“To my fans, I think I word it the best way when I say ‘I ain’t shit without you.’” stated Lil Wayne. “This is for y’all…y’all as in my fans, y’all as in the people in the crowd, y’all as in my supporters, those that work with me, those that work for me, those that work around me, those that work like me. This is for us.”
“I’m starting to win awards in my third prime,” said Nas. “I never won awards in the 90s…thank you BIllboard. 49-years-old about to turn 50 along with Hip-Hop. I didn’t get into it for awards, we got into it because we loved the artform. The artform has been vampired and sent through all kinds of shit that keep the pioneers from touching anything. From seeing it back then… I’m just so honored to still be alive to see it be 50 years as a fan.”
Later in the evening, DJ Jadaboo entertained concert-goers as they filled The Novo for Billboard R&B Hip-Hop Live. Armani White opened the night, bringing an energy that lit up the room. He performed such hits as “BIG BET.,” “Onderful,” “SILVER TOOTH.,” “GOATED.,” as well as his runway smash “BILLIE EILISH.” He closed out his set with a touching tribute to his publicist by dedicating “Thanksgiving” to them on their birthday. Dressed in knee high boots and a camo mini skirt, Coi Leray was surrounded by her dancers as she brought the party to downtown Los Angeles. She performed such songs as “No More Parties,” “Fly Shit,” “Bops,” “Make My Day,” “Baby Don’t Hurt Me,” and “Players Medley.” Headliner Metro Boomin brought everyone into his universe as he stood atop a DJ-booth surrounded by large LED screens displaying eye-popping animations. He was joined by special guests Offset, NAV, and Coi Leray for an energetic set of his hottest records including “Bad and Boujee,” “Knife Talk,” “Ric Flair Drip,” “Tuesday,” “X,” and more.
Continuing Hip-Hop’s 50th celebration this year, Billboard and VIBE are working with Amazon’s live radio app Amp to amplify the next generation of rising rappers coming out of Atlanta. Fans can participate in Amp’s emerging artist program The Come Up today to help surface new artists who have a chance to be featured across Billboard and VIBE this summer. For more information and the latest announcements follow on Instagram and Twitter at @billboard and #BillboardLive.
Congrats to all the award winners from the night! Check out some photos from the event below!