I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the Ozone Awards took place last weekend (Aug. 4-6). And I couldn't have cared less.

I've kept an eye on Ozone magazine for several years and said magazine's publisher, Julia Beverly, has kept an eye on me as well, regularly accusing me (and this paper) of some sort of anti—hip-hop bias. Not caring about the "awards show" her staff put together probably proves it to her. After all, Beverly pulled off in her debut year the sort of event the organizers of FMF are still wishing they could put together: one that brings in a raft of very high-profile industry people.

Producers, A&R reps, editors and radio folks were there, and they were the real deal, too. The kind of people who can offer contracts, get you on the radio, publish a cover story, put you in the studio; you name it, and they can do it tomorrow.

On top of that, a series of club shows scattered around downtown with the likes of Lil Wayne, Yung Joc, E-40, Young Buck, Obie Trice and many more dovetailed with a David-Banner-and-Trina—hosted awards show at Carr Performing Arts Centre.

Ozone wasn't messing around.

Her efforts on behalf of her magazine and the flossy, Rick Ross-y style of hip-hop it promotes should therefore be commended. She organized an event that got national notice and, for a moment, put the spotlight on Orlando.

But I couldn't care less. Because when that spotlight was turned on, there wasn't much Orlando to see. Sure, Disco & the City Boyz played a party and the Runners showed up on a panel, but the event seemed squarely focused on national acts, national labels and national buzz. (For whom do the Runners create tracks, anyway? National acts. How many of those national acts are said to be at the forefront of an "Orlando sound"? Zero.) Local artists were largely confined to receiving advice at panels.

Maybe Beverly's perception is that Orlando's hip-hop scene isn't mature enough to be prominently featured — at least to the level that Orlando's rock scene plays a role in the Florida Music Festival. She may be correct. But when this city's biggest hip-hop magazine keeps its eyes focused mainly on what's happening in Miami, Houston and New Orleans, and throws events aimed at impressing national players, one has to wonder why the local scene's growth is stunted.

Which is fine, actually. Because the vision that Beverly and Ozone have of hip-hop is, frankly, not one that I would prefer to see take over Orlando. The Yung Joc and La' Chat posters that overtook downtown lampposts during the weekend made that clear. The regressive, glossy and transparently commercial artists Ozone promotes are, despite their thuggish appearances, cogs in a machine over which they have little or no control. These cats, as tough as they are, are helpless against the whims and machinations of the business — a business that Ozone desperately wants to be important in.

Leaving any discussion about the quality of the music aside, I'd much rather continue to see the self-sufficient and independent hip-hop movement bubble up in this city. The folks running Nonsense Records are doing a lot to make that happen, and so are Sol.illaquists of Sound and Domination Recordings. But, of course, none of those folks had a role in the Ozone affair. Which goes a long way toward explaining why I couldn't have cared less.

Notable notes

Jeff Coffey was picked as one of 100 finalists who will compete on the new web-only show Star Tomorrow. Coffey's band performed July 31, competing against a smooth jazz act called Hot Sauce who thought they were an R&B band. Celebrity judge David Foster said Coffey didn't have much control over his voice (he was right), but that the midtempo ballad his band pulled off was far better than the Marvin Gaye cover that Hot Sauce spit up. Voting closes Aug. 14 ….

Did anyone else read Joseph Martens' contributions to the Soundboard blog over at the Sentinel's website? Somehow, the Hindu Cowboys frontman scored press credentials to Lollapalooza. This allowed him to file reports like this description of Ween: "Darn tootin' there (sic) mighty good!" Or Iron and Wine: "From what I can tell Iron and Wine sounds pretty darn good." Or that he "heard from a couple girls sharing my picnic table that Panic at the Disco was good." Now, Martens is a nice guy, a hell of a musician and a fine radio-show host who went to great lengths to make clear that he's not a journalist, so I don't intend to criticize his writing. But let's just put it this way: Even if someone over at the Sentinel has questionable judgement, I hope Martens isn't fool enough to hire a journalist to play guitar with the Cowboys.


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