I AM HIP HOP AWARD
One of hip-hop's first (and finest) superproducers, Marley Marl was an early innovator in the art of sampling, developing new techniques that resulted in some of the sharpest beats and hooks in rap's Golden Age. As the founder of Cold Chillin', Marl assembled a roster filled with some of the finest hip-hop talent in New York: MC Shan, Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, Roxanne Shanté, Kool G Rap & DJ Polo, and Masta Ace. His production work for those and many other artists generally boasted a bright, booming, and robust sound that -- along with his ear for a catchy sample -- helped move street-level hip-hop's sonic blueprint into more accessible territory. Most important, though, were his skills as a beatmaker; Marl was among the first to mine James Brown records for grooves and also learned how to craft his own drum loops through sampling, which decreased hip-hop's reliance on tinny-sounding drum machines and gave his '80s productions a fresh, modern flavor. Marl was born Marlon Williams on September 30, 1962, and grew up in the Queensbridge housing project in the New York City's Queens borough. He became interested in music through local talent shows and neighborhood parties and became an accomplished DJ during rap's early days. He did mixing work on a number of singles for the old-school hip-hop/electro label Tuff City and started up his own Cold Chillin' label, which he initially ran out of his sister's apartment in Queensbridge. Marl set about recruiting for what became one of rap's first talent collectives, the Juice Crew. He caught his first big break in 1984 when he produced Roxanne Shanté's "Roxanne's Revenge," one of many answer singles inspired by U.T.F.O.'s underground smash "Roxanne, Roxanne"; luckily, "Roxanne's Revenge" was the biggest and it put artist, label, and producer on the map. Marl trumped it by helming "The Bridge," an ode to Queensbridge by his cousin MC Shan that became the unofficial Queens rap anthem and inspired a spirited feud with Bronx native KRS-One. With Marl's success came the opportunity to produce artists outside the Cold Chillin' stable, which he did with the monumental Eric B. & Rakim single "Eric B. Is President," as well as full-length albums by Heavy D & the Boyz. The end of the '80s is often referred to as hip-hop's Golden Age, a time when the form's creativity was expanding by leaps and bounds. Marl's Juice Crew was an important force in ushering in this era thanks to its advances in lyrical technique and the distinctive personalities of emerging stars like Biz Markie and Big Daddy Kane. With business at Cold Chillin' booming, Marl put out the first full-length release under his own name in 1988 (he'd previously recorded the single "DJ Cuttin'" in 1985 with the alias NYC Cutter). In Control, Vol. 1 was mostly a showcase for various Juice Crew affiliates to strut their stuff, most thrillingly on the legendary, larger-than-life posse cut "The Symphony." Marl scored his greatest crossover success in 1990 by helming LL Cool J's Mama Said Knock You Out; bolstered by Marl's state-of-the-art production, the album restored LL's street cred while becoming his biggest seller ever, making Marl an in-demand remixer. 1991 brought the release of In Control, Vol. 2, which unfortunately displayed signs that the Cold Chillin' talent pool was being depleted. After working with TLC on their 1992 debut, Marl remained mostly quiet for a few years; 1995 brought the release of House of Hits, an excellent retrospective of his best productions over the years. Splitting off from Cold Chillin', Marl spent several years in a legal battle over money and ownership rights that, in 1998, finally resulted in his being awarded control of all the songs he'd produced for the label. In the late '90s, Marl's status as a high-profile producer was restored thanks to his work with artists like Rakim, Queensbridge's own Capone-N-Noreaga, and Fat Joe. In 2001, Marl put together another compilation of original productions with guest rappers for the BBE label, titled Re-Entry. Marl releases became less frequent, though they weren't without significance. Hip Hop Lives (2007) was a full-length collaboration with onetime rival KRS-One. For Operation Take Back Hip-Hop (2008), he reconvened with the Juice Crew's Craig G and involved Talib Kweli and Sadat X. Along with Roxanne Shanté, he co-hosted the Golden Era Radio program on New York's historic WBLS.
ROCK THE BELLS AWARD
Whether it be in music, fine art, sports, business, or culture, Swizz Beatz consistently challenges and changes the status quo. You can hear revolution brewing within his original keyboard-laced intro on “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem.” You can see revolution on the walls of his No Commission art shows where artists enjoy exhibition space for free and receive 100% of their sales. You can feel revolution in every episode or live engagement of VERZUZ, which he and Timbaland turned into “ He never stops disrupting though... the most successful livestream music platform in history” and was acquired by Triller Network. You can even experience revolution in the success of his camel racing team Kaseem Abu Nasser, cementing him as “the first African-American and first Westerner to own a camel racing team in the Middle East.”“I follow the universe the whole time,” he explains. “I was always very curious about things outside of mybox—whether that was living in The Bronx, living in America, or living in my own mind. I always knew the skyis not the limit. There are galaxies out there, so why should we confine ourselves? I love being a disruptor.How can I disrupt with creativity in a positive way?”The Bronx native started disrupting back in 1998. Straight out of the gate, he produced “All for the Love”from The Lox’s seminal Money, Power & Respect before cooking up the beat for one of the most popular hip-hop songs in history: DMX’s double-platinum “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem.” Since the turn-of-the-century, he hasfueled total sales of over 350 million albums worldwide with a bulletproof discography highlighted by classicssuch as JAY-Z’s “Jigga My N****” and the GRAMMY® Award-winning “On To The Next One,” Beyoncé’s “Ringthe Alarm,” Kanye West’s “Famous,” Chris Brown’s “I Can Transform Ya” [feat. Lil Wayne], Lil Wayne’s“Uproar,” and dozens of others. Billboard touted him as one of the best of “The 50 Greatest Producers of the 21st Century,” and Kanye West went as far as to christen him, “The best rap producer of all time.” He’s therare force of nature you can catch on the Summer Jam stage or DJ-ing a party for President Barack Obama.An accomplished solo artist in his own right, Pitchfork hailed his 2018 album, Poison, as “a shrine to the art ofproducing.” Plus, he serves as Executive Producer of the music for the hit EPIX Series Godfather of Harlem. “On any track, the first thing I notice is the risk the producer took,” he reveals. “It could be a different sound or drum pattern. Everybody walks across the street when the light is red. I love it when people take risks.”His biggest risks have happened naturally. In the middle of the Global Pandemic, he and Timbaland hoppedon Instagram Live for a gentlemanly showdown between old friends to settle who had the most hits. Itmorphed into the cultural phenomenon we now know as VERZUZ. After a year of record-breaking battlesbetween rap and R&B titans, the series garnered a Webby Award in the category of Special Achievement –“Break the Internet” as it crushed the Instagram record for livestreaming. Timbaland and Swizz received the“Shine A Light Award” at the 2020 BET Awards, while Bloomberg Businessweek included them among, “The50 Most Influential People: ‘The People Who Changed Global Business” in 2020. Within a year, VERZUZ alsowon a NCAAP Image Award for “Outstanding Show (Series or Special).”Vice President Kamala Harris and Stacy Abrams would make their presence known on the platform, whiledozens of television shows, a Billboard cover, and more have chronicled and studied “The VERZUZ Effect.” “It’s the new ecosystem for creativity,” smiles Swizz. “We represent and welcome all ages, but we’ve been able to really make a difference for those timeless artists who started this. It’s enhanced their streams, brought them back out on the road, and gotten them deals in some cases. I love seeing that. VERZUZ is something the world had never seen before. We needed a partner who loved placing bets and could pivot as we moved. We found that in Triller. We don’t need 1,000 signatures to make a move on a Tuesday. We need one, two, or just a phone call. We react and move quickly.” That extends to the art world. Founded by Swizz and his wife Alicia Keys, The Dean Collection stands out as the largest private collection of Gordon Parks art in the world as well as over 1,100 pieces from Kerry James Marshall, Kehinde Wiley, KAWS, Jeffrey Gibson, Ansel Adams, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Deana Lawson, Deborah Roberts, and more. Underneath this banner, Swizz and The Dean Collection curate the live art and music festival No Commission—an innovative art fair where artists receive space free of charge and reap the entirety of their sales. Art has been entwined with music since his childhood though. You may even catch him listening to music, smoking a cigar, and painting...Not for sale, those works find their way to hospitals and the homes of friends. Among other distinctions, Swizz graduated from Harvard Business School’s OPM Program and made history as New York University’s first “Producer in Residence.” Along the way, he has also collaborated with household name brands, including Bacardi, Aston Martin, Reebok, and American Express. In the end, Swizz Beatz’s biggest revolution may very well loom on the horizon. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” he leaves off. “Everybody will tell you what you can’t do. Show them what you can do and take the risk. They want you to catch the goldfish, but you can buy the goldfish at the store. Challenge yourself to catch the whale. That’s what I do. I’m a serial entrepreneur. I’m a major disruptor. I’m a master prankster. I’m globally minded. I’m a family man. I’m in a happy space.” – Rick Florino, August 2021 BOILER Whether it be in music, fine art, sports, business, or culture, Swizz Beatz consistently challenges and changes the status quo. “Growing up in the South Bronx, art was always around me just like music was,” he says. “It was second nature. I appreciated it more when I moved out of The Bronx and started exploring different things, visiting galleries, and doing my homework. When I bought my first home, I wanted to hang some art on the walls, and the journey began there. Now, I have the opportunity to reshape the culture and the way people rethink art with a new entry point through No Commission. I’m not a gallerist; I’m a collector and an advocate for the creator, so we don’t charge commissions. People were scared at first, but it changed the whole scope. It gives the artists strength and freedom. That’s amazing to me.” The Bronx native started disrupting back in 1998. Straight out of the gate, he produced one of the most popular hip-hop songs in history: DMX’s double-platinum “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem.” He has fueled total sales of over 350 million albums worldwide with a bulletproof discography highlighted by classics such as JAY-Z’s “Jigga My N****” and the GRAMMY® Award-winning “On To The Next One,” Beyoncé’s “Ring the Alarm,” Lil Wayne’s “Uproar,” and dozens of others. Billboard touted him in the Top 20 of “The 50 Greatest Producers of the 21st Century,” and Kanye West christened him, “The best rap producer of all time.” Plus, he serves as Executive Producer of the music for the hit EPIX Series Godfather of Harlem. In the middle of the Global Pandemic, he and Timbaland launched VERZUZ. The series garnered a Webby Award for Special Achievement – “Break the Internet” as it crushed the Instagram record for livestreaming. Timbaland and Swizz received the “Shine A Light Award” at the 2020 BET Awards, while Bloomberg Businessweek included them among, “The 50 Most Influential People: ‘The People Who Changed Global Business” in 2020. Within a year, VERZUZ also won a NCAAP Image Award for “Outstanding Show (Series or Special).” Dozens of television shows, a Billboard cover, and more have chronicled and studied “The VERZUZ Effect.”Founded by Swizz and his wife Alicia Keys, The Dean Collection stands out as the largest private collection ofGordon Parks art in the world as well as over 1,100 pieces. Swizz and The Dean Collection curate the live artand music festival No Commission—an innovative art fair where artists receive space free of charge and reapthe entirety of their sales. Swizz graduated from Harvard Business School’s OPM Program and made history as New York University’s first “Producer in Residence.” He has collaborated with household name brands, including Bacardi, Aston Martin, Reebok, and American Express.
ROCK THE BELLS AWARD
Timbaland, byname of Timothy Z. Mosley, (born March 10, 1971, Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.), influential American producer and hip-hop and rhythm-and-blues performer who contributed to the chart-scaling success of a host of recording artists in the early 21st century.Mosley grew up in Virginia with rappers Missy (“Misdemeanor”) Elliot and Magoo. At age 19, he began to learn how to use studio equipment under the direction of producer and musician DeVante Swing, whose mispronunciation of the shoe manufacturer Timberland resulted in a new name for his protégé. Timbaland’s inventive production skills were first evidenced on Aaliyah’s 1996 hit “One in a Million.” Soon afterward Timbaland signed with Blackground Records as both a solo act and part of the rap duo Timbaland and Magoo. In 1997 the two put out their first album, Welcome to Our World; featuring the contributions of Elliot and Aaliyah, along with the hit song “Up Jumps da Boogie,” it achieved platinum sales status.By the late 1990s Timbaland had developed a signature sound that made him a much sought-after and often-imitated hip-hop and rhythm-and-blues producer. He used original beats—rather than samples—to create complex syncopated rhythms and complemented them with quiet background rapping or obscure sounds, such as a whinnying horse. With an uncanny knack for crafting commercially successful singles and albums, Timbaland produced hits for Jay-Z, Ginuwine, Elliot, Ludacris, and Snoop Dogg. In the early 2000s Timbaland moved beyond the genres of hip-hop and rhythm and blues to produce albums for rock and pop stars, including Nelly Furtado, Justin Timberlake, Beck, Bjork, and Madonna. In addition to his notable work as a producer, Timbaland continued to release albums, both as a solo artist and in conjunction with Magoo. He created new record labels under the umbrella of Interscope—Beat Club and Mosley Music Group—and received three Grammy Awards for his work with Timberlake, on “SexyBack” (2006), “LoveStoned/I Think She Knows” (2007), and “Pusher Love Girl” (2013). He also earned a Grammy for his contributions to Beyoncé’s “Drunk in Love” (2013).