After a three-year hiatus, the 2022 BMI R&B/Hip-Hop Awards
returned last week to LIV nightclub. Hosted by Mike O'Neill, Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) president and CEO, and vice president Catherine Brown, the private event honored the top songwriters, producers, and publishers of the previous year, including D'Mile, Tay Keith, ATL Jacob, Christopher "YC" Pearson, Pardison Fontaine, and Megan Thee Stallion. Busta Rhymes was awarded the 2022 BMI Icon for his creativity and decades-long impact on hip-hop.
Inside the dimly lit venue, notable producers, artists, and songwriters trickled in from the red carpet splayed in front of LIV inside the Fontainebleau Miami Beach to celebrate hitmakers and hip-hop magnate Busta Rhymes. As DJ Nasty spun a mix of throwback and current hits, DJ Khaled kicked off the event by praising BMI for its continuous support of artists.
The ceremony continued by honoring the talent behind the top 35 hip-hop and R&B songs in the U.S. Among them were Julian "LilJuMadeDaBeat" Mason, 6lack, Ant Clemons, Derrick Milano, LunchMoney Lewis, and Keynon "KC" Moore.
Justin Bieber's "Peaches" (written and produced by Giveon, Daniel Caesar, Bernard "Harv" Harvey, Luis Manuel Martinez Jr., and Andrew Watt) won Song of the Year, while Megan Thee Stallion ("Body," "Cry Baby," and "Thot Shit") and Christopher "YC" Pearson ("Back in Blood," "Time Today," and "Wockesha") tied for Songwriter of the Year. D'Mile took home Producer of the Year for his work on Drake and Travis Scott's "Fair Trade" and Silk Sonic's "Smokin Out the Window," "Skate," and "Leave the Door Open."
ATL Jacob was recognized as one of the year's top producers for his collaboration with top-charting artists Future, Kanye West, Lil Baby, and Drake. (Also recognized as top producers were Rogét Chahayed, Isaac "Zac" De Boni, Charlie Handsome, Michael "Finatik" Mulé, and Kanye West.) ATL Jacob, the 23-year-old Atlanta native and in-house producer for Future's label, Freebandz, is the powerhouse behind more than half of Future's latest album, I Never Liked You
, and his number one hit, "Wait For U," featuring Tems and Drake.
"It's a moment to be grateful for," ATL Jacob tells New Times.
"There's a lot of people who want to be in my position but they're not. One day they will be. It's just the start of something new."
With the recent launch of his label Wicked Money Family, Jacob plans to release his debut single, "Blood in the Streets," featuring Big Sean and Fredo Bang, in October. "All I got to say is, it's about to be one of those ones," he notes about his pivot into rapping. "They not gone look at me the same."
In between the awards categories, performances by rapper and singer Morray and Nigerian singer-songwriter and producer Pheelz injected the room with energy. Fayetteville, North Carolina, native Morray performed his hit songs "Bad Situations" and "Quicksand," while Pheelz followed with a magnetic set that included his viral hit "Finesse."
Closing out the ceremony, Busta Rhymes was praised for his contribution to hip-hop in a compilation video featuring Janet Jackson, Missy Elliot, Fat Joe, Lil Wayne, and Mariah Carey. Pharrell paid tribute to his iconic style and creativity before introducing him as the 2022 BMI Icon. He joined the ranks of previous recipients, including Janet Jackson, Snoop Dog, James Brown, Isaac Hayes, and Nile Rodgers.
During his acceptance speech, Busta Rhymes summarized his undeniable influence on hip-hop and pop culture: "The most beautiful part about it is I earned this. I've never been celebrated as an icon before, but I never had to question whether I was one."
Alongside longtime collaborators Spliff Star and DJ Scratchator, he ended the night blazing through a medley of his most iconic hits, including "Break Ya Neck," "Scenario," "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See," and "Pass the Courvoisier."