Indie Christian hip-hop artists and urban gospel singers from around the country converged at Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus for the 5th Annual Kingdom Choice Awards on September 28, 2013. Kingdom Time Entertainment, headed by Minister Marcus Hall, is the visionary behind the ceremony to honor independent ministers in music. A total of 15 categories were presented, along with a few Kingdom Choice Honorary Awards.
The Kumble Theater was packed and the energy was exuberant in the room. As with most award shows, the live performances for the night were highly anticipated. The Kingdom Choice Awards stayed true to the artistry of hip hop with two in-house DJs on hand, Dj YNOT and DJ Press Play. The host for the night was Wordsmith from California, who in true servant hood, paid for his way to be a part of the awards show. He kept the crowd going with witty wordplay and mini sermons he called "nuggets.”
It's More than Music!
The performers of the night represented different regions of the country, providing a mixture of styles and sounds. A hometown nominee in two categories, Chris Jackson blessed the stage with a medley off his mixtape "No Pressure.”
A quite comical moment during the night came from Comedian Chris Williams as he came out to present the award for best Gospel Reggae Artist. He came on stage to an old school reggae beat with his Jamaican flag in hand. He addressed the crowd in the local Jamaican dialect known as patois while translating every other word. The winner for the category was the smooth roots artist Positive, who was not in attendance. Comedian Chris reveled at the chance to finally receive an award, gracefully accepting on Positive's behalf.
A few of the notable winners for the night were "Lyricist of the Year" - Selah the Corner, "Breakthrough Artist of the Year" - Uncle Reece, "Female Vocalist of the Year" - V Rose, "Video of the Year" - Slave & Gauge, and "Male Rap Minister for the Year" - Bizzle. All the winners showed a real sense of humility, unity and respect for their ministry peers.
"I thought it was cool to see the spirit of unity and a lot of love and support amongst the artists one to another. I love the fact that a lot of the artists can relate to each other's struggles, even with their family structures,” said Pastor Ernst Cochy of Life Church in Brooklyn.
The struggles of this life and the victory found in Jesus fuel many of the nominees' music such as Donielle Rodwell from Philadelphia.
Rodwell is a singer, rapper, songwriter with a powerful testimony. She performed at the Kingdom Choice Awards for the first time with a moving acoustic set, boasting her versatility while recounting her own tale.
R-Swift is also an artist with Philadelphia roots and recipient of the honorary Kingdom General Award. He has served the Christian hip-hop community for over a decade and is currently the head of Rhyme Council Music Group.
A first-time event at the Kingdom Choice Awards was a friendly DJ battle between New York's own DJ Tony Tone and Orlando, Florida's DJ Psalm 51. They showed off their skills in three rounds in front of judges DJ Wade-O, DJ YNot, and KCA Host Wordsmith. In the end, the winner of DJ battle was DJ Psalm 51; he acknowledged DJ Tony Tone as someone he emulated and watched for years.
The Kingdom Choice Pioneer Award was given to Tre 9 & Zee of Dasouth.com. They re-launched the popular Christian hip-hop site on Election Day in 2008. The site carries 24/7 Christian hip-hop news, giving a voice to many independent artists across the country.
The duo sold Dasouth.com to JamtheHype.com this past July.
Tre 9, an urban gospel artist in his own right, performed "Fatherless" after receiving the award, showing that he still has his chops.
The overall production of the Kingdom Choice Awards was quite impressive. The vibrant use of media enhanced the experience and gave it a very professional feel. A few performers ministered their songs while the video for the record played in the background.
A very poignant performance came from Bizzle, who won Male Rap Minister of the Year, with his song "Dear Hip Hop," which detailed all the wrong philosophies Hip-Hop perpetuates. The song paints a clear picture of why our urban communities are stuck in a sin cycle.
"I am just honored to do anything for Him, knowing where he brought me from," said Bizzle when accepting his award.
The Kingdom Choice Awards closed out with a performance by Uncle Reece.
Uncle Reece gave his all as he sang "Until I Pass Out,” with his powerful voice and evident passion for God. The stage became a pseudo mosh pit for worshipers as other artists joined Uncle Reece on stage to give praise to the King.
"He Died and He Rose" closed the night out, an unorthodox song from the perspective of Jesus as He was beaten and crucified. The song ministered the true love Christ displayed for a lost world and why He is deserving of our worship. Uncle Reece admonished all to take the call to evangelize the lost seriously, so that Jesus may be lifted up above the Earth.
The Kingdom Choice Awards celebrated 5 years on Saturday honoring local ministry gifts.
The visionary Minister Marcus Hall called this year's awards a success.
"It is a blessing and by grace that we are here for a fifth year," said Hall, who said what really struck him about the awards this year was the genuine spirit of camaraderie.
The end of the night when all the artists were on stage with Uncle Reece he said was a "powerful message" sent to all in attendance.
The message was clear that it is all about love because God is love.
Hall and Kingdom Time Entertainment are looking for greater things next year for year number 6.