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Cousin Stizz named artist of the year at Boston Music Awards

Cousin Stizz performed at the Boston Calling festival in May.Keith Bedford/Globe Staff/file

The Boston Music Awards unofficially declared 2018 the year of the breakthrough Wednesday night, naming hip-hop flag-bearer Cousin Stizz artist of the year while handing other top prizes to indie-pop innovator Sidney Gish (album of the year, for her sophomore effort, “No Dogs Allowed”) and socially-minded rap ascendants Cliff Notez and Oompa (in new and unsigned artist categories, respectively).

The annual awards, introduced in 1987 to recognize the best and brightest in Boston’s music scene, were announced at a show at the House of Blues featuring live performances from winners as sonically varied as Ashley Jordan (country artist), the Devil’s Twins (rock artist), and Party Bois (dance/electronic artist).


With his victory, Stizz becomes the first hip-hop musician to receive the awards ceremony’s highest honor; the Dorchester-raised emcee released two three-track projects this year after making a second straight appearance at May’s Boston Calling. Gish, a 21-year-old Northeastern undergrad, had perhaps an even bigger year; her BMAs win arrives at the tail end of a 12-month period that brought about her first national tour (with Camp Cope and Petal), a six-date stint opening for indie-rock icon Mitski, and 4 million streams on Spotify.

Meanwhile, for Cliff Notez and Oompa, who recently appeared on each other’s anticipated debut albums — Notez’s “When the Sidewalk Ends” and Oompa’s “November 3rd” — the trophies capped off massive, profile-elevating years that had already felt like victory laps.

Worcester rapper Joyner Lucas — nominated for two Grammys earlier this week — was again awarded music video of the year, for “I’m Not Racist” (his winning vid last year was “Just Like You”). “I’m Not Racist” is also Grammy-nominated for best rap video.

Other repeats in artist categories included Jordan for country artist, SuperSmashBroz for DJ, Stizz for hip-hop artist, Bad Rabbits for R&B artist, and Jonathan Ulman for session musician.


Here’s the full list of winners announced Wednesday night:

Artist of the year: Cousin Stizz

New artist of the year: Cliff Notez

Unsigned artist of the year: Oompa

Live artist of the year: STL GLD

Album of the year: Sidney Gish, “No Dogs Allowed”

Song of the year: Latrell James, “Okay”

Music video of the year: Joyner Lucas, “I’m Not Racist

Alternative/indie artist of the year: Weakened Friends

Americana artist of the year: Twisted Pine

Blues artist of the year: Ali McGuirk

Country artist of the year: Ashley Jordan

DJ of the year: SuperSmashBroz

Dance/electronic artist of the year: Party Bois

Folk artist of the year: Honeysuckle

Hip-hop artist of the year: Cousin Stizz

International artist of the year: Soul Rebel Project

Jazz artist of the year: Gretchen & the Pickpockets

Metal artist of the year: Scissorfight

Pop artist of the year: Clairo

Punk/hardcore artist of the year: Street Dogs

R&B artist of the year: Bad Rabbits

Rock artist of the year: The Devil’s Twins

Singer-songwriter of the year: Aubrey Haddard

Vocalist of the year: Aubrey Haddard

Session musician of the year: Jonathan Ulman

Live production engineer of the year: Grace Reader

Studio producer of the year: Janos Fulop

Live music photographer of the year: Emily Gardner

Music promoter of the year: Christine Varriale (Allston Pudding)

Live music venue of the year: House of Blues

Intimate live music venue of the year: Great Scott

Music night of the year: Emo Night Boston

Live music residency of the year: Ali McGuirk First Fridays at Bull McCabe’s


Music publication of the year: Vanyaland

Music journalist of the year: Nina Corcoran

617Sessions artist winner: Oompa

Isaac Feldberg can be reached at isaac.feldberg@globe.com, or on Twitter at @isaacfeldberg.