For all intents and purposes, it should be said, DJ Uncle P is a cut above the rest. During our interview I found him to be candid, witty at times while displaying a humility rarely found in people within the music industry.
It speaks volumes of the man born Diarra Collazo, 47. His cool, laid-back demeanor belies the larger than life persona of his stage name. Respected amongst his colleagues for his professionalism and contribution to his craft, DJ Uncle P and his team, are gearing up to put on what can arguably be considered one of the biggest music related events in the city of Detroit. The Underground Hip-Hop Awards (UHHA) has become a staple in the Detroit music scene since its inception almost 5 years ago in the basement of the legendary Saint Andrews Hall.
The premiere showcase brings together some of the city’s most notable rappers, producers, directors, and DJ’s, on the underground hip hop music scene. Past winners have included Kash Doll, Sada Baby, Payroll Giovanni, DJBJ 3525, and more.
Its only fitting that the Underground Hip-Hop Awards was birthed in the city that was once the gold standard for musical talent some decades ago when Berry Gordy dominated the airwaves via his Motown imprint. Fast forward to present day Detroit, and it’s astonishing how many have seemed to have forgotten Detroit’s musical relevance and history. Despite notable contributions from the likes of rap titans Eminem, Royce Da 5’9, Big Sean, and underground legends like Blade Icewood— Detroit has been overlooked as a point of reference through the annals of music history—especially Hip-Hop. “A lot of those at the helm are older,” says Uncle P when asked why Detroit rarely comes up in the Hip-Hip music conversation. “[Some] just don’t understand the power of hip-hop and are just flat out scared to deal with it because of the negative press it gets at times. It’s a lot easier to just not deal with something you don’t understand.”
Uncle P knows a thing or two about the power of Hip-Hop. He’s been in it longer than some millennials have been living. In the late ‘80s he went by the moniker P-Love with his group Mystique MD’s, which later became F.O.I. (Freaks Of the Industry). That acronym was eventually changed after warnings of a potential backlash from the Fruit of Islam.
After Mystique MD’s disbanded, Uncle P focused his sights on learning the business of the industry, by earning a degree in Music Entertainment Management at the Art Institute of Atlanta.
Today, the UHHA is without question the hottest ticket in the city. Moving the award show from Saint Andrews to the historic Charles H. Wright Museum has brought its own share of challenges for Uncle P and company. “In the past, attendance has averaged around 600 people,” says Uncle P. “At the new venue we can only fit [up to] 350.” Still Uncle P is excited about the buzz surrounding the UHHA. He says voting has hit an all-time high, which means the awards have been garnering major attention.
Unfortunately, with every win, comes some controversy. When asked about the situation where an unnamed artist offered to cash app money to fans in exchange for their vote, Uncle P is earnest with his response. “I’m going to take the person at their word,” he says. “How it was explained to me was that they were just showing love to the fans that supported them. They didn’t look at what they were doing as buying votes or bribery.” With the help of social media the allegations spread rapid around the city, and Uncle P was faced with a dilemma of handing the matter before it reached a tipping point. “I had no choice but to treat it as [soliciting]”, he says, before adding: “I didn’t want to lose the integrity of our brand. So, I had to disqualify the artist.”
Despite brief controversy, there is much here to celebrate. Uncle P is confident that the 5th installment of the UHHA will be Detroit’s version of the Grammys. “This will be the first time we have a live band at the awards,” he says with much excitement. Popular journalist Krissy, from Inside the Grind is scheduled to host, and attendees can look forward to performances by Big Gov, Pierre Anthony, Malcolm Elliott, Aztek the BarFly, Standing O, Team Money Hungry, and DJ DDT will be providing the sounds for the night
At press time, presenters for the UHHA have yet to be announced.
The UHHA is bridging the gap for many generations of fans who know and love Hip-Hop. The show highlight talents in the city and provides a platform to be celebrated for their craft. But most importantly, the UHHA is bringing the city of Detroit back to the musical forefront.
The 5th annual Underground Hip-Hop Awards will take place at 4pm on January 6, 2019, at the Charles H. Wright Museum. Tickets are on sale now and be purchased online at https://undergroundhiphopawards.com/product/general-admission-ticket-to-uhha-2019/