INTERVIEW: Shawn Prez, founder of the Global Spin Awards
The Global Spin Awards were created by Shawn Prez in 2012, with the goal of celebrating the accomplishments of DJs and producers worldwide. For the last six years, the show has continued to grow into a pillar of the music industry, celebrated by such “A-list” celebrities and musicians, including nominees, DJ Khaled, DJ Envy, Marshmello, and The Chainsmokers.
His experience as an industry executive, with both Atlantic Records and Bad Boy Entertainment, helped Prez attain some of the connections necessary to create the first and only award show to give industry recognition just for DJs.
This year, the Global Spin Awards will take place in Los Angeles, for the first time ever on February 15th, and will include presentations of the “Lifetime Achievement Award” to Timbaland, and the “Breaking Barriers Award,” to Jermaine Dupri.
Before the award ceremony, which is scheduled to air February 22nd on REVOLT TV, Salute Magazine caught up with Prez to talk about how the award ceremony got its start and where he sees the Global Spin Awards going in the future.
SALUTE: What inspired you to launch the Global Spin Awards six years ago?
PREZ: The inspiration comes from several different places but primarily I spent a career working alongside some of the DJs and really having a first-hand knowledge of their impact and what they meant, not only to the music industry but the entertainment industry overall. And I felt as though they were under-recognized and their value was never given the credit that it should.
There was a major void in the marketplace, and because I had such a long-standing relationship with so many DJs, and an appreciation to what they brought to the table, I thought it was necessary. I was like “we have to create this ceremony that recognizes them.”
Why is it so important to acknowledge producers and DJs in hip-hop?
PREZ: I think it’s extremely important. What is a DJ at the core? Many of these DJs are multi-faceted. Some produce records, create records, work alongside artists. But at the core of it, they play these records and they take you on this journey. Whether we’re listening to them in the car while we’re driving or whether we’re in the clubs. They are the maestros for the evening.
They’re the orchestra conductors. You’re in that building and it’s the DJ that’s really controlling the tempo of your mood, and your feelings for that moment in time. I just felt that they were not appreciated and recognized and they were always put in the background.
And then something always stood out to me. I worked at Bad Boy Records for many many years. All of the records that were coming out of the label at that time, we always tested with the DJs first… and the DJs were essentially our litmus test for were these records a hit or were they not.
They were on the frontline of playing and breaking new music and bringing new music to the masses. I just think they were overlooked and they needed to be recognized.
Who decides this year’s nominees?
PREZ: We modeled ourselves, after what I consider to be the most successful award shows created, one of which is the Grammys and the other is the Oscars. As a young man, I would watch the Oscar’s, and whenever anybody would win an award, before they would thank their family and before they would thank their fans, they would always say “we want to thank the Academy.”
Who’s this Academy? This mysterious bunch of industry insiders. We went out and we recruited people all across the US, but across the world, who understood and really appreciated the DJ culture. We call them “The Bureau.”
The bureau is our voting body. The equivalent of what the Academy would be to the Oscars. We have members of our bureau who are writers, club promoters, record label executives, record promoters. People who either work with the DJs directly or have interactions with the DJ community first-hand.
We bought the same software that the Academy uses and we get our votes out to our voting bureau. They vote anonymously. And when it’s time to tabulate our votes, the top four-to-six vote-getters, become our nominees.
What does it mean to be bringing the show to Los Angeles for the first time ever?
PREZ: For me personally, it’s one of those pat yourself on the back moments. We modeled ourselves after some of the most successful awards shows in history, and many of them are produced and take place in Los Angeles, Calif. So for us in six years to have gained the notoriety and credibility and essentially the following within the community.
To be able to take it out to the same place that hosts the Academy Awards and the Grammys and some of the big award shows, for us it’s really a milestone that we’re very very proud of. I think it allows so many people who have heard of the Global Spin Awards but have never been able to attend first hand, the opportunity to be in the building and understand what the ceremony is all about. How we’re so different from other award ceremonies. But at the same time, it is the most prestigious award that a DJ can hope to achieve. So taking this out to Los Angeles is a major milestone for us. I am so proud of our staff and our team, who have worked tirelessly over the last six years. I just think… I know it’s going to be our biggest one yet.
What are some award show highlights that stood out to you from years past?
PREZ: This may stand out as my biggest highlight, but only because it’s so personal to me. I was a record executive at Bad Boy Records for many years, I worked under Sean “Diddy” Combs and really helped to grow his organization from the record label to the clothing, Sean Jean, to now Ciroc vodka. Sean “Diddy” Combs is a global icon. He’s a major A-list celebrity. Although I am personal friends with him, I would never just call him just because. So in year three, the award show really started to pick up steam and it finally made it to his radar. To where he was like I’m hearing about these Global Spin Awards but he literally reached out and wanted to attend that year, not based on me asking him, but the fact that he had heard about the awards growing year after year.
When he came, he and I walked down the red carpet together. For me, it was such a major moment, because I worked with this guy for many years and watched him walk down red carpets and do the whole celebrity thing, but to have him come to an event that I created and walk down my red carpet alongside myself was a major moment.
Another would be watching so many of the DJs, past, and present, in one building. Our award show is a celebration of the DJ, so to literally have in one building Grandmaster Flash, Kid Capri, Kool DJ Red Alert, Funkmaster Flex and then move it to the newer generation which is the DJ Drama and Metro Boomin’. To have the old pioneers and having them mingle with the new generation of DJ. It’s never been done… ever. Every time we have these ceremonies and I just see so many people taking pictures with their idols and the people who gave them inspiration to first touch a turntable. Those moments are always huge.
Now that hip-hop is the most consumed genre in music, where do you see the awards going in the future?
PREZ: I come from hip-hop. I’m born and raised in the South Bronx, New York, the birthplace of hip-hop. So hip-hop for me, it’s personal. It’s who I am at heart. To me and my own career, being part of helping to promote some of the biggest acts in hip-hop in the ’90s, and building my career in hip-hop, and now in 2018, it is the biggest genre in music. And to have this year, in particular, Snoop Dogg, who is this amazing global icon, host our award ceremony, it’s very personal for me. I think it’s only going to make our award ceremony so much bigger in years to come. I always believe that hip-hop is about youth culture. It’s not about class or racial ethnicities. It truly speaks to the youth and it goes right alongside DJing because I believe DJing is always about being cutting edge and being on what is new. I think so long as hip-hop continues to grow and speak to youth culture, it’s going to ride parallel to the Global Spin Awards, which are the DJs who always who always speak to youth culture and what’s new.
So, our award show can only go up. Just by default, it’s going to go up.
Originally published at salutemag.com on February 5, 2018.