Hands down, one of the best things about this job—next to free products and meeting celebs—is the industry event. Whoever came up with it is truly a genius! The first and most important advantage: it’s FREE. Which is great for an entry-level budget. (And bad because I’m so spoiled now I wouldn’t pay a $25 cover to see Tupac resurrect himself from the dead in front of an audience at Madison Square Garden).
And they’re always sponsored by a liquor company, so the specialty drinks and hors d’oeuvres are complimentary as well. That means the sponsors feed me and transport me to a state of inebriated bliss, then ambush me with ads and samples of their new product.
And now every time I think of Adidas, let’s say, I’ll remember my full stomach, delicious cocktail and untouched bank account and of course, I’ll give it rave reviews in the magazine, right?
Tuesday night at the Smirnoff Experience/Cornerstone party was no different, atleast at the beginning. Ferocia and I undergo our normal glam routine so we don’t look like we spent the day working like field slaves. The flats are replaced with sky-high heels (hers, knee boots; mine, peeptoe booties) and liquid eyeliner and boldly-hued lip gloss wake up our tired faces. MAC’s tinted lipglass ($14, maccosmetics.com) works wonders.
Trust me, you should’ve seen what I looked like before the lip color! Love it!
This takes longer than expected of course (I’m on permanent CP time) so by the time we meet up with Beautylicious
and cab it to Capitale, the line of industry insiders, inhumanely beautiful models and Faux-Rells (the trucker hat, fitted shirt wearing N.E.R.D. frontman wannabes) stretches down and around the block and keeps going. Umm, four words: hell to the no.
At times like these, I’m always contemplating turning around, pulling off those devilish heels and tight leggings (I finally got them from H&M!
) and crawling under my covers. But luckily, we spot our Uberlife
friends near the front of the press line (which of course, is shorter, they treat you like royalty). And after standing for what seems like a century, we ambush our way into the club. Scrumptious pink lemonade and Smirnoff concoctions await us at the bar. And to our left is the cutest, most adorable glamazon ever!
Love the red glasses!
She stops us for a polaroid photo op and poses the question: If you were a cocktail, what would you be?
I want to say Poison (cue Bell Biv Devoe, big booty and a smile!) but we have to represent for the blogs so we go with Beautylicious, Coutura and Ferocia.
And then the concert starts.
The token black VJ over at MTV, Sway, comes out and warns us all that this is not your regular industry event, this is “real hip hop.” Despite the fact that his beanie hat looks like it would pop and explode if he stuffed one more dread inside, I have to agree with the man.
He goes on to introduce Jamal Woodard, the actor who plays Biggie in the upcoming film, “Notorius.” Spitting image! He performs the first verse from “Juicy,” as everyone raps along word for word, followed by a verse of his own (he wasn’t bad, believe it or not).
The legendary Grandmaster Flash makes an appearance and immediately puts any DJ-turned-celebrity to shame. He spins everything from Rapper’s Delight to Dope Boy Fresh…and the entire crowd can’t stop moving! Then a couple of independent label rappers come out and do their thing and one message is clear: hip hop is alive and well.
Next up, N.E.R.D. They put on an amazing show and pull out all the stops from groupies to guitars. Ferocia has more on that later (she got to know Pharell real up close and personal ;-)!
And finally, DJ Green Lantern starts playing “Made You Look,” and Nas slips onstage to the roar of the crowd. He starts the set with songs from “Untitled,” which he casually refers to as “the nigger album,” even though his record label famously forced him to change the title…comedy.
His rendition of “Black President,” (produced by Green Lantern) is especially moving given that we are 30 days away from the election and the rest of the country had watched the second presidential debate earlier that night. And Johnny Polygon comes out to add his smoldering, husky vocals to the song…truly a beautiful moment!
After teasing us with the first few seconds of “Street Dreams,” he starts “If I Ruled the World,” to the delight of the packed room. In the middle of his second verse, he says “Are you coming out baby?” facing the group of people on the left of the stage. And without as much as a glimpse of an asymmetrical cut, I know Kelis is coming to join him. I can barely contain my excitement!! I’m happier than a gay man in a locker room! Clearly, almost everyone at the club feels the same way…
Of course, Miss Info was there and caught it all on film!
And then, I realize this is their first public appearance together since wearing matching N-word shirts to the Grammy’s. And that it comes amidst a swirl of rumors of marital strife and infidelity. This is much more than a random appearance onstage. This is deliberate.
We’ve all read the stories plastered on blogs and whispered over restaurant tables from NY to LA. It goes a little something like this: Kelis is cheating on Nas (who is too fine for that, btw) because he spends all his time smoking and reading instead of indulging in a more exciting, fast-paced Hollywood lifestyle. The plot thickens with a sex-tape featuring Kelis and some mysterious man that allegedly took place post-wedding vows. Plus, as somebody in the crowd points out, she’s slept with both Pharrell and Nas, who performed one after another and even were onstage together at some point during the show.
My take? It’s not my business or anyone else’s. They’re entertainers and both amazing at their craft. He’s a rap legend, she’s a swagger icon. And that’s where it ends. The prying and speculation is intrusive and really disrespectful.
I don’t know when it occurs to me—maybe after the kiss he plants on her cheek as she walks offstage, or when he turns to her and raps “I love you, love you baby,”—but at some point, it becomes clear that we are either witnessing a marriage crumble or a strong couple stand up for their union and reputation. And that’s when a usually vapid, sometimes superficial industry event gets personal and sad.
But Nas seems determined to quell pesky rumors about his marriage. He lovingly quips that he’s her biggest fan and says matter-of-factly that “a lot of girls have been biting her style.” Umm, can you blame them?
Kelis is the bad girl’s bad girl. The few celebutantes that hint at risk-taking run back to the status quo as soon as they end up on a worst-dressed list. Kelis, on the contrary, could care less what anybody thinks about her. She’s onstage in front of a crowd of industry heavyweights sipping on a half-full glass of wine and looking…well, let’s just say “dazed.”
She’s wearing a tie-up black jumpsuit with dainty white trim on the pockets, a black lace bra, white lace stockings (the kind your mom used to put you in for Sunday school) and pearls. Unstudied glamour. Stylish and fierce. This is a girl who knows what she likes, from designs shaved into her close-cropped cut to plaid blouses with leopard boots. She won’t make apologies for any of it.
And matching her fiercely independent spirit to a tee, Nas ends his segment with a middle finger to McCain. You gotta love them! I miss the era of celebrities who boldly took a stand regardless of what criticism or praise they garnered as a result. Say what you want about this couple, they’re not afraid to be different.
All in all, it was an amazing night, from the performances to the cocktails to the hors d’oeuvres (especially the hot dogs and mustard, lol, you know i love food!). But at the end of the day, Sway was right: the event was free and sponsored (thanks, Smirnoff!), but far from “industry.”