Nobody can accuse the crowd at Torch Tuesday of not knowing how to party. Springfield’s most prominent showcase for regional hip-hop talent presented the second annual Torch Tuesday Awards on Jan. 22 at Bar None and it proved to be a marathon event, marked by the undeniable thrill of a creative community coming into its own. Hosted by MC Aaron “Uncanny” Phillips and founder Howard “Torch” Thomas, the evening began in a fairly low key around 8:30 with a catered meal of Italian food, but by 10:30 the joint was jumpin’. The revelry didn’t stop until the venue’s 2 a.m. closing time.
“If you want the truth, it was a ton of fun,” Phillips confirms. “There was a lot of love in the room.” Most impressive to Phillips was the amount of mutual respect on display, especially in light of the heavily competitive nature of hip-hop as a whole. “Artists were showing respect for other artists. Hip-hop is known to be a competitive sport, probably more than any other musical genre, so for there to be that level of respect and that level of community, it was a big deal.”
While a large portion of the evening found the audience grooving to the heavy beats of Torch Tuesday house DJ Yatti, the evening was really about honoring the artistic contributions of area performers in 2012. The night’s biggest winner was Pytch Wyte, who took home both the Artist of the Year and Fan’s Choice awards. Chicago-based rapper Contact, who began making a large impact locally in recent months, was awarded rookie of the year, while the award for best mixtape went to Springfield hip-hop stalwart Cornbread, who recently moved to Los Angeles to follow his musical dreams. According to Phillips, the winning mix (available for free download here http://cornthacoon.bandcamp.com/album/kokujin-tha-mixtape) “has got funny stuff, it’s got some kind of serious stuff, the metaphors are good, the rapping’s good, the production. He’s a great artist.” Cornbread’s mother accepted the award for her son in absentia. Other winners included New Group of the Year, Albino Alliance; Lyricist of the Year, A.D. Carson (who also recently published his first novel, The City); Group of the Year. Blew Swag; and Producer of the Year, P Jilla. Prolific regional favorite Les Lugar claimed the Single of the Year trophy for his bluntly titled track, “F--- What Y’all Talkin’.”
“It was a very successful event on the whole,” says Phillips. “It generated a lot of buzz and interest, not only at the event itself but also on Facebook and social media. As far as the winners go, I feel like everybody who won actually deserved it, they all put in a lot of work this past year. I feel like it was good for the hip-hop community, it’s going to help a lot of the artists, whether they were nominated or whether they weren’t, whether they participated or whether they didn’t.”
Scott Faingold can be reached at