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Backstage Rapping at Soul Train Awards : Pop music: Whitney Houston and Toni Braxton take home honors in a show blasted for overlooking Dr. Dre and recognizing Kenny G.

March 17, 1994|DENNIS HUNT | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Whitney Houston and Toni Braxton continued their winning award-show ways Tuesday night during the eighth annual Soul Train Awards ceremony at the Shrine Auditorium.

But it was controversial rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg who caused the most stir with the press backstage.

The Long Beach rapper was angry that Dr. Dre's best-selling album "The Chronic" (which features his raps) and his own "Doggystyle" collection weren't nominated for best rap album.

"You know and I know that Dr. Dre had the best rap album of 1993," he declared to the media shortly after he and Dre finished performing on the show. "Why wasn't he even a nominee? How can they explain that? We feel we were done wrong on these awards."

While rap aficionados can't quarrel with any of the nominees--Arrested Development, Naughty by Nature, Digable Planets and Onyx, the winner--omitting Dr. Dre and Snoop seemed a glaring flaw.

Not content to criticize the Soul Train competition, Snoop also took fire at the Grammys. Though Dre won an award for best rap solo performance in that ceremony, there was considerable unhappiness in the rap community that Dre's work was ignored in the more prestigious best album and best single categories.

Responding to a question about that awards show, he said, "(Expletive) the Grammys, they ain't right."

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Another artist who rapped the Grammys Tuesday was a surprise: Whitney Houston, who won the best album and best record awards, criticized the Grammys for being out of touch with real music fans.

"This (the Soul Train Awards) is a more relaxed atmosphere. . . . it's a lot more flattering here with people you actually hear on the radio."

This night, Houston didn't wear out a path between her seat in the auditorium and the podium collecting awards. Aside from the prearranged Sammy Davis Jr. Award as entertainer of the year, she won only for song of the year, "I Will Always Love You."

In the female single category, Houston's "I Have Nothing" lost to Toni Braxton's "Breathe Again." Braxton was also honored for best album by a female artist.

Usually there are no real quibbles about the winners of the Soul Train Awards, which are based on a survey of 3,000 radio programmers and record retailers. They often go to deserving black artists who are ignored by the Grammys. But there was grousing backstage by both artists and media about Kenny G's "Breathless" victory in the jazz album category.

Of all the awards shows, you'd think this one would ignore lightweight pop-jazz. But the saxophonist's 5 million-selling album beat out George Benson, Fourplay and the favorite, Terence Blanchard and his score for "Malcolm X."

Commented an outraged artist who asked not to be identified, "What's this show coming to? It used to be hip. You can't give an award to Kenny G and be hip."

Babyface, who won best male album "(For the Cool in You"), also co-wrote and co-produced two other winners: "Toni Braxton" and Tevin Campbell's best male single, "Can We Talk." Janet Jackson's award for her music video "If" was her eighth overall, adding to her career-leading total.

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