CYPHER AVENUE’S BEST OF 2011 AWARDS
BEST GAY ARTIST: KAOZ
While openly gay rapper Kaoz didn’t release a new solo project in 2011, he still made his presence felt. After a problematic emotional outpouring during a YouTube interview back in January, he rebounded with solid lyrics on musical guest appearances, producing a free full-length advocacy/health awareness compilation project that featured fellow Minnesota artists and he released some brand new music videos (featured below) that he himself co-directed.Although we have some minor issues with Kaoz, without a doubt he’s a skilled wordsmith and growing entertainer. He’s also (deservedly) still the current leader when it comes to music & showmanship from Out artists. No question, he’s one of only a handful of Out artists that we hope to see a lot more from in 2012.
Honorable Mention: Lasto, Medino Green
BEST ALBUM: WATCH THE THRONEDon’t get us wrong, we love Common’s “The Dreamer/The Believer”… we love The Roots’ “Undun”… We love J-Cole’s “Cole World: A Sideline Story”… Hell, we even kinda liked Drake’s new R̶&̶B̶ album “Take Care”… But as much as we hated to admit it, no album made as much of an impact on the world than the surprisingly non-leaked Jay-Z and Kanye West album “Watch The Throne.” Let’s not even talk about how many bona fide radio and club hits are on the release, how about the RIDICULOUS so-called ‘filler’ tracks like “No Church in the Wild” produced by the amazing 88-Keys and “New Day” produced by legendary The Rza.
Honorable Mention: Common – The Dreamer/The Believer, The Roots – Undun
BEST NEW ARTIST: THE WEEKND
We were hip to 21-year-old Canadian crooner Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, long before fellow Canadian musician Drake publicly co-signed for him. So it feels good to see the rest of the country slowly coming around to this talented young man.His free debut mixtape “House of Balloons,” released back in March, was one of those albums that made you believe in R&B music again. His subsequent free releases “Thursday” and “Echoes of Silence” continued to up the ante musically making us think, “If this is what his mixtapes sound like, we can’t wait to hear his studio album.”
Honorable Mention: Big Sean, Childish Gambino, Frank Ocean
BEST MUSIC VIDEO: MARSHA AMBROSIUS – FAR AWAY
Those of us that saw the music video for awesome new artist Marsha Ambrosius’ song “Far Away” before we knew the twist got the full impact of its importance. In depicting her anti-gay bashing and suicide message, the video takes the atypical route of showing us an attractive masculine black gay couple instead of the usual white feminine men. According to Marsha, the concept for the video is based on her own gay friend that she lost to suicide due to homophobia.The video caused an uproar, mostly positive, however there were still the usual hateful words (from supposedly all-loving Christians, no less) in the comments section wherever it was posted. Nonetheless, the video holds a special place in the hearts and minds of us here in the Cypher Ave.
Honorable Mention: Wretch 32 ft Etta Bond – Forgiveness
BEST MODEL: ROBERT EVANS
We first discovered 6′ 3″ model Robert Evans as his handsome face and body began popping up more and more on the many tumblr photography blogs we follow. A 22-year-old from Oxford, England had never even been out of his hometown when acclaimed young black photographer Arron Dunworth discovered him training in a local boxing gym.Rob remains humble with it all, enjoying his recent success as a Givenchy, Jeremy Scott and Calvin Klein model, yet still training for his thus far undefeated boxing career. Also, I think its safe to say he’s one of the few non-gay models in the industry.
_BEST FASHION TREND: JORDAN RETRO CONCORD XI
We were hard pressed to think of any more impactful contribution to the American world of fashion last year than the re-release of the Jordan Concord XI basketball shoes. These $180 shoes caused literal pandemonium as stories of hundreds of shoppers waiting in line for hours, getting trampled, getting pepper-sprayed, breaking into malls and fighting each other for a pair of sneakers (that many of them will only wear one time).
BEST GAY SCANDAL: THE EDDIE LONG SEXUAL COERCION LAWSUITS
Say what you will about the Eddie Long scandal, but the controversy that began in 2010 and spilled over into the first half of 2011 was important many levels. Not only did it bring to light a possible criminal conspiracy, it also shined a new light on the issues of pedophilia, molestation, homophobia and hypocrisy in the church system.The lawsuits filled by Jamal Parris, Spencer LeGrande, Maurice Robinson and Anthony Flagg were filed with detailed stories that were hard not to believe. If the news of the eventual settlement wasn’t enough to seal the deal, Eddie Long’s wife of 21 years filing for divorce in December pretty much did it for us.
BEST CITY: ATLANTA, GA
The city of Atlanta, Ga gets such a bad rap when if comes to the Gay community, especially from African Americans. However the truth of the matter is that, outside of New York City, no other place in the U.S. has more appeal, variety, attractions, diversity and momentum than Atlanta.Not only are there hundreds of restaurants, bars and stores to keep anyone occupied, there are clean parks (Centennial Olympic and Piedmont) and districts (Atlantic Station) to help fill your time as well. On top of that, there are many options whether or not you are Straight or Gay, Discreet or Out of the closet.
Let’s not forget there are even two movie studios there (EUE/Screen Gems and Tyler Perry Studios) and its host to half a dozen network television shows so seeing actors out and about is par for the course. The sports franchises (Braves, Hawks and Falcons) also lend a lot to the entertainment factor.
Last but not least, Atlanta is filled with so much opportunity for career growth, as most of the gay men of color we know living there are doing pretty well financially.
As for the negative stories we hear, like any city, it is what you make it to be.
* You will receive the latest news and updates on your favorite celebrities!