Kickin' It With Jay-Z & Ne-Yo
Last night me and my boy Jay-Z was chillin. Kickin it, ya dig? Fo realz! Y u trippin? Meh, I can't even fake hip-hop slang. The real story is I attended a Def Jam release party for Ne-Yo's new record, Because Of You. You may recall Ne-Yo's hit from last year, So Sick. You may recall it, but I don't, however I'm told it was a monster smash. Really, is there anything sillier than a middle-aged white guy attending a hip-hop release party? My "homeboy" Jerry works for the label and he's been dragging me to these things for 20 years. Jerry is good people.
The event took place at Arena, near Times Square, formerly Show, formerly a burlesque house, back when those places clogged 42nd Street. Arena opened in February and is rather nice, with several balconies and seating areas overlooking a medium-sized dance floor and small stage. I believe it's what straight folks call one of them there "bottle clubs". It reminded me of Soho's Element. And unlike most music industry finger food functions, Ne-Yo's party had a proper Southern buffet with fried catfish, mac and cheese, cornbread, and collard greens. After all that food, the open bar didn't seem very appealing, but somehow I soldiered on.
After a couple of hours of us milling around with catfish and beer while listening to Rhianna (also an Island/Def Jam artist), Jay-Z introduced Ne-Yo then immediately bolted through the crowd for the door, pausing for a few autographs and the above photo. Sadly, Beyonce' was not in tow. Ne-Yo didn't perform, exactly, instead the diminutive singer (smaller than Usher!) wandered the stage in an ice-cream suit and fedora, drink in one hand, giving introductions to his tracks as they played. I was a bit surprised at his relatively smooth R&B vocals, even laid over hip-hop beats. He seemed like a sweet kid.
I was amused by two things at the party. First, the non-stop, and I mean NON-STOP usage of Sidekicks and Blackberrys by everybody in the club. You'd think that it would be hard to send text messages while dancing with catfish and a drink. You'd think that, but that would be wrong thinking. Also, the kids today really like their Hennessy and Courvoisier. Sadly, I witnessed no uncorking of Cristal.
After the show, Jerry and I wandered into Times Square, where Jerry insisted we visit the new massive, two-story M&M's store. Seriously, this huge place sells nothing by M&M's and M&M's related swag: t-shirts, coffee mugs, key chains, etc. It's totally depressing. Meeting Jay-Z and Ne-Yo was pretty cool, though. I feel all kinds of, like, down.