Clive Davis introduced nine-time 2024 Grammy nominee SZA to present the Clive Davis Visionary Award to her manager and label heads, Top Dawg Entertainment president Terrence “Punch” Henderson and Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith, at Billboard’s 2024 Power 100 event last night (Jan. 31).
The star-studded event bringing together the most influential and powerful figures in music was held at Neuehouse in Hollywood, where the legendary record executive Davis took the time to outline the successes and exploits of Tiffith and Henderson since the launch of TDE in 2004.
“Throughout my career, I’ve always had the great fortune of working with truly remarkable producers who created hits and helped shape the careers of some of the biggest and brightest stars in music,” Davis said. “The executives we are honoring tonight, their names are Anthony Tiffith and Terrence Henderson; you know them as Top Dawg and Punch. They without question share the gift of all those outstanding producers who have made their mark on music history.”
Davis then turned his speech to SZA, whom he called “one of today’s most exciting music artists,” and ran through a number of the accomplishments she has racked up in the past year. “SZA’s latest acclaimed album, we all know, S.O.S., has earned a whopping nine 2024 Grammy nominations, the most of any artist this year, and it includes album of the year, record of the year, song of the year, best progressive R&B album and best R&B song,” he said. “S.O.S. was No. 1 for 10 weeks on the Billboard 200, and — this is amazing — all 23 of the album’s tracks charted on the Billboard Hot 100, with five top 10s.”
He then introduced SZA, who gave a speech that lauded Punch and Top Dawg for their vision in believing in her since the very beginning of her career.
“I was just talking to Punch the other day about how much vision he had to have to see what he saw in me with no credentials,” she said. “I really was looking insane and behaving insane and refused writers and all these things, and he believed in me. People would come to him and tell him he should change how I look, or I should be doing these kind of beats or working with these writers, and he didn’t change a single thing about me. He completely believed and constantly told me that I was the greatest, which I thought was ridiculous, and I was so grateful for his delusion. You know, Top literally also somehow had this belief in me, and I was nothing like any of my family members in TDE, I didn’t come from the same place, I was just a different type of person, and no matter how many times we would have conversations that differed, he would fight to understand me.”
She then introduced Punch and Top Dawg to speak. The latter kept it short — “You know me, I’m behind the scenes all the time; I’m like SZA, I don’t like all these cameras and the limelight,” he said — before turning it over to Punch.
“When you think about a visionary, you have to have foresight. And coming from where we come from — we both come from the Nickerson Garden projects — you have to have vision, you have to have foresight. And usually you don’t; you can’t see past your circumstances, or even see past what’s right in front of you,” he said. “So from there, we went on to be 20 years in in this business. That takes a razor-sharp vision, for sure. Even to help different artists, like a young girl from the suburbs of Maplewood, New Jersey, to reach the top of the pop charts, that’s crazy, and that also takes vision. So to the visionaries, keep seeing things with your eyes closed, and see it through.”
Find the full 2024 Billboard Power 100 list here.