Spotify honored the year’s behind-the-scenes music-makers at the Secret Genius Awards tonight (Nov. 16). Held at the Ace Theater in downtown Los Angeles and hosted by Ne-Yo, winners for the top prizes included Murda Beatz for Producer of the Year, Ali Tamposi for Songwriter of the Year and Benny Blanco for Secret Genius: Pop.
Tricky Stewart presented the award to Toronto’s Murda Beatz, whose credits include Drake’s “Nice For What” and “Motorsport” by Migos featuring Nicki Minaj. Tamposi was recognized for Camila Cabello’s “Havana” and “Wolves” by Selena Gomez and Marshmello, among other hits. Blanco’s credits include “Now or Never” by Halsey and “Happier” by Ed Sheeran. Upon accepting the award, presented by Charli XCX, Blanco said only, “Quincy Jones is here.”
Indeed, the veteran producer, who was honored with the Secret Genius: Legendary Genius Honor, was the main event for the 500 in the room. Presenter Timbaland, who described the master producer-arranger-composer as “my idol,” and referenced the Netflix documentary “Q” as “my music bible,” noted Jones’ 79 Grammy Awards (a stat that made Charli XCX visibly gasp), then cracked, “I thought I was doing something, I wasn’t doing shit.”
Following a warm embrace with co-presenter Max Martin, Jones shared a few words of wisdom picked up from decades in the business. Of Frank Sinatra, with whom he worked in his early years, Jones recounted how ol’ blue eyes saw genius in five words: “Feeling, sensation, believing, attachment and knowledge.” The secret, in his view is “the song; the singer is the messenger.” And in the future? “Water and music will be the last things to leave this earth.” He ended his acceptance speech with a parting message: “Yolo Koko – you only live once so keep on keeping on.”
Several performers took the stage throughout the night, including Bebe Rexha, who was joined by hit songwriter Justin Tranter, for a string-assisted rendition of her latest single, “I’m a Mess,” Jacob Collier, a Jones protege who delivered a moody version of “Human Nature,” also accompanied by a string quartet, Becky G, Daniel Caesar and the grouping of Ty Dolla $ign, Robert Glasper, Taylor McFerrin and Terrace Martin for a second tribute performance to Jones.
Among the artists in attendance were Swae Lee (pictured above at left with Tank God and Ty Dolla $ign), Keith Urban, Kelly Rowland and Bazzi. Executives in the crowd included Warner Bros. Records chairman Aaron Bay-Schuck, Epic Records president Sylvia Rhone, Artist Partner Group CEO Mike Caren, Warner/Chappell VP of A&R Katie Vinten, Universal Music Publishing Group president, North America Evan Lamberg, Revels Group CEO Jamil Davis and Post Malone manager Dre London, among others.
See the full list of winners below:
Secret Genius: Legendary Genius Honor – Quincy Jones
Secret Genius: Songwriter of the Year – Ali Tamposi
Secret Genius: Producer of the Year – Murda Beatz
Secret Genius: Ambassador Grant – Smokescreen
Secret Genius: Pop – Benny Blanco
Secret Genius: Hip Hop – Tank God
Secret Genius: R&B – The Stereotypes
Secret Genius: Dance – DJ Swivel
Secret Genius: Latin – Andrés Torres Y Mauricio Rengifo
Secret Genius: Rock – Jake Sinclair
Secret Genius: Country – David Garcia
Secret Genius: Breakthrough of the Year – Tank God
Secret Genius: Engineer – Kesha Lee
Secret Genius: Mixing Engineer – Manny Marroquin
Secret Genius: Social Message – This is America (Ludwig Göransson)