It’s been happening for the last 25 years. One of the world’s largest outdoor awards shows takes over downtown Toronto and shuts down Queen Street. And the 2014 Much Music Video Awards (MMVA) was no exception. Perfect weather. Thousands of screaming fans. Red carpet entrances to remember (shout out Marianas Trench for the rolling bed, pajamas and pillow fight and Toronto FC player Jermain Defoe for arriving on the double decker bus). And a stellar line-up of performers, presenters and award winners.

But like other awards shows the night wasn’t all just about what designers the celebrities were wearing or who racked up the most awards; much of the night had the personalities reflecting on the impact both Much Music and the awards show had had on them coming up. In an era when the Internet and YouTube has greatly changed the way Much, formerly Much Music, programs its station, it was refreshing to see so many pay homage.

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Vancouver emcee SonReal, who took home the award for MuchFACT Video of the Year (awarded to the best video that was funded by MuchFACT that year) for “Everywhere We Go”, shared stories of his humble beginnings in rap and being first inspired by artists like Kardinal and Choclair whom he grew up watching on Much.

Not only was the night about recognizing Much’s impact, but also realizing how Much and established artists/celebrities can impact future generations of artists. SonReal encouraged all aspiring hip-hop artists nationwide to take a leap of faith and apply for MuchFACT in order to get the opportunities he has had.

“I would say to anyone, no matter what status you’re at take the time to apply for those MuchFACT grants and do a great job at it. I actually was fortunate enough to receive my first MuchFACT I ever applied for and I had no name, no fans and we got the full MuchFACT at the time and the video went on to make the Much Music countdown and it went on to get 100,000 views on YouTube,” the emcee shared.

“Take the time, put together a great application, brand yourself right on it and just go for it every round, don’t give up. I’ve been denied a lot of times, but I’ve also got a lot of them, and they changed my whole career.”

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The generations coming next are actually where actress/singer Jena Malone, of Hunger Games Catching Fire fame said she aims to focus her energy.

“The older that I get the more I just want to make films and tell stories for teenagers because I really, truly feel that they are the next generation of revolutionaries and their voices and their hearts are the most spectacular,” said Malone, who won over front row fans (many from this age demographic) at the awards when she handed out boxes of free doughnuts in the middle of the show. “I want to know what kind of stories they need, and how to help guide their way. I do want to be instructed by them because we get to be here as adults and we get to speak, and they’re still discovering their voice.”

The legacy of Much and its impact on the breadth of Canadian artists was felt this year. While social media definitely had its place via things like the red carpet Twitter mirror and selfies between fans hanging over the metal barricades and arriving celebrities, the MMVA proved there is still value in putting together a larger than life offline experience. And if the Much, like Malone, continues to cater to the generation of teenagers that took over Queen Street this year, then the awards show is sure to live on for another 25 years to come.

Hip-Hop Related Wins of the Night:

Hip-Hop Video of the Year: “Worst Behaviour” (Drake)
MuchFACT Video of the Year: “Everywhere We Go” (SonReal)
International Video of the Year by a Canadian: “Hold On, We’re Going Home” (Drake featuring Majid Jordan)

Words & Photos By. Priya Ramanujam