Cardi B took home the award for Songwriter of the Year at Thursday evening’s 32nd annual ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles, recognizing her as the artist who has written or co-written the greatest number of most-performed songs of the past year via hits like “Bartier Cardi,” “Ring,” “I Like It,” “Bodak Yellow” and more. T.I. was honored with the Voice of the Culture Award, Motown Records received the Heritage Award, and Universal and Warner Chappell were named Publisher of the Year.
Cardi did not stop for questions on the carpet — although she posed for photos with on-off husband Offset of Migos (above) — but Variety caught up with “Ring” cowriter and featured vocalist Kehlani.
“I started as a writer, then ventured into being an artist,” she said. “It’s really important what [ASCAP] does for people, honoring them in a way they don’t normally get honored. A lot of the behind-the-scenes people get their money and they’re cool with it, but then they’re like, ‘Dang, it’d be nice sometimes to get some love really for the art of what I do.’”She also recalled a fun memory of the “Ring” video shoot. “I kind of had the idea that she [Cardi] was pregnant — but not knowing,” she remembered with a laugh. “Then seeing this cute little tiny baby bump peeking through, and taking a little woman note in my head like, ‘Congratulations, girl!’”
Also honored was the godfather of trap music, T.I., who accepted the first-ever ASCAP Voice of the Culture Award. Presented by political commentator and analyst Angela Rye, this honor recognizes an ASCAP member who has had a major influence on both music and culture. The MC was honored in part for his work in philanthropy and humanitarian efforts, including his nonprofit titled Harris Community Works (HCW).
T.I. told Variety earlier in the night, “It’s a phenomenal feat to be acknowledged and considered by such a prestigious organization that has helped so many people. The fact that they thought enough of me, to celebrate me on a night like tonight, is humbling.”
With his 18-year-old son Domani by his side (pictured above), Tip did not hesitate in plugging his offspring’s music — specifically his new single “One Day.”
Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr. and current Motown President Ethiopia Habtemariam both accepted the Rhythm & Soul Heritage Award on behalf of the iconic label. ASCAP Chairman of the Board and President Paul Williams and legendary Motown songwriter Valerie Simpson presented to the honor to Gordy, while Coach K and Pierre “Pee” Thomas — co-heads of Motown-distributed label Quality Control, which features Migos, Lil Yachty, City Girls and manages Cardi — both presented to Habtemariam. The honor recognizes ASCAP members who have had a major impact on the legacy of rhythm and soul music.
Other wins include Top R&B Song awarded to Joelle James for writing “Boo’d Up,” Top Gospel Song awarded to Loren Hill for writing “Won’t He Do It,” and Top Rap Song awarded to Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Gary Grice, Orville “Buggs Can Can” Hall, Marvin Hamlisch, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Shane “Murda Beatz” Lindstrom, Phillip Triggerman Price and Noah “40” Shebib for writing “Nice for What.”
Universal Music Publishing Group and Warner Chappell Music each received ASCAP Publisher of the Year Awards. Warner Chappell’s top songs included “Apeshit” (The Carters), “Finesse (Remix)” (Bruno Mars& Cardi B), “Motorsport” (Migos, Nicki Minaj & Cardi B) and “Nice for What” (Drake). UMPG took home the award for hits such as “Ring” (Cardi B ft. Kehlani), “I Get the Bag” (Gucci Mane ft. Migos), “Best Part” (Daniel Caesar ft. H.E.R.) and “God’s Plan” (Drake).
Performances included newcomer Nicole Bus opening the show with “You,” “Look Back At It” by A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, “You Will Win” by Jekalyn Carr, an acoustic “Boo’d Up” by songwriter Joelle James — all backed by the 1500 or Nothin’ band.
The evening ended with a full-circle tribute to Motown from Ne-Yo, BJ the Chicago Kid and Valerie Simpson, representing Motown’s past, present, and future.