Ludacris And Friends 'Disturbs Tha Peace' At R&B Live
The show started off with a private reception at the venue's penthouse at 7PM, where henessey and hors d'oeuvres were served. JI brushed shoulders with the likes of music executive Kevin Liles, DTP members Shareefa, Bobby Valentino, Luda, Steph Jones, who engaged in an extensive conversation with JI about hair types and freckles, and a very svelt Jordin Sparks, primped out in black metallic tights, a black trench and matching patent leather, open-toe platform heels.
The show started at almost 9 P.M., with a soulful yet cutesy performance by Jones, clad in a white button-up shirt, a black vest, a yellow and black plaid tie and a hat that sat ever so slightly on top of his brown twisted hair. In the audience were Chrisette Michele, Chingy, MTV and Hot 97 executives among others.
After Jones' three song set, DTP songstress Shareefa
took the stage, starting off with her smash "I Need A Boss." "Need
somebody that's real gangsta / toy soldier, a real gangsta!" she belted
out. She then went into a rendition of R&B group Floetry's "Say
Yes," and surprised the audience with a guest appearance by remaining
Floetry member Marsha Ambrosius, who took the mic for the rest of the
song. Joined by rapper Jada Kiss, Reefa ended her set with song titled
Bobby Valentino closed the night, but JI had skipped out by then and headed to the homie Joe Budden's album release party down at Don Hill's bar. Although Budden was running late and JI ended up missing him, the Jersey rapper had a nice crowd waiting on him to make an appearance and hopefully hit the stage.
Neyo, Denzel, Jay-Z Hit Up R&B Live
Performing were Ne-Yo and some artists signed to his Compound Entertainment management and production company, and there to see him were Warner Music Group's Kevin Liles and Mike Kyser, Hot 97's Ebro Darden (who was nice enough to invite Jaded Insider and friends to sit with him at his front-row table), BET's Stephen Hill, Rocsi, Terrence J and Kim Osorio, Violator's Mona Scott and former Def Jam president and rapper Jay-Z, to list a few.
Even though it felt below 30 degrees last night in New York and the hassle to get into the event tends to get a little Hollywood at times even for members of the press like yours truly, the line of aspiring attendees hoping to get in to catch the show wrapped around the block, twice over. But it was definitely worth it. Those who made it inside were sure in for a treat.
DJ Murs spun classic hip-hop and R&B while the night's host Dru Fraiser cracked jokes on everyone from white people in the room to Jay-Z's wifey Beyonce. Backed by house band Urbanology, the night's opening acts were Compound signees Duvant, Shanel and Jovi, who performed two-to-three song sets each before clearing the stage for the night's main event. But, not before a very special guest waltzed in for a listen. Denzel Washington, sporting a white and blue pin-striped button-up shirt and blue pants, was escorted through the side doors and took a seat at the table right behind JI. And yes, we did almost break into groupie mode.
After the crowd got somewhat past the excitement over the Oscar-winning actor, Ne-Yo ran through his choreographed set, which included songs "Go On Girl," "Because Of You," "You Make Me Better," performed with Fabolous, and "So You Can Cry," a song in contention to make the singer's upcoming third album.
JI was geeked and still sweating over the sightings today. For our first night out of the new year, we think we didn't do a bad job at all!
Alicia Keys: Soul Star
Jaded Insider hit the Heineken Red Star Soul finale last night (Oct. 24th) at New York's Spotlight Live, headlined by Alicia Keys. As usual, Spotlight was packed to the neckline, so J.I. was a little hot and bothered, but the free Heinekens made things a little easier for everyone.
Among the celebs in the house were R&B singer Fantasia and Ralph McDaniels, who was honored with the Heineken Independent Achiever Award for his contribution to R&B music.
Jermaine Paul was the first to hit the stage, performing three tracks that, though unknown to J.I., were still enjoyable. Paul has an amazing voice and range (which is probably why he's Keys' background singer). Still, we suspect he was only filling for original opener Teedra Moses, who was dropped (for unknown reasons) midway through the tour. J.I. hearts Moses, btw.
Emily King performed next, starting with our favorite song off her debut set, "You and I." With guitar in hand, King ran through a five-track set that included "Walk in My Shoes" and "Colorblind." She ended her performance by singing happy birthday, with the help of the audience, to the night's co-host Kenny Burns. (He hosted along BET's Daniella).
DJ Cassidy kept the crowd entertained on the 1s and 2s, but without much delay Keys finally took the stage. She was sporting silver metallic tights and a loose-fitting silver/purple sparkly tank, and her hair was in loose curls. While rocking on the piano, Keys sang old and new songs alike, including "Woman's Worth," "Unbreakable," "You Don't Know My Name," "If I Ain't Got You" and, of course, "No One." She even sang a beautiful rendition of Force MD's "Tender Love" that had the entire audience swaying from side to side in unison.
We walked out right before the after party started, so we can't tell you exactly how that went. But, based on the line that was already forming outside when we crept out, we can imagine it was a hit as well.
Mario On 'Love' And 'Death'
On Wednesday (Oct. 17), Jaded Insider hit up New York's Bryant Park Hotel for an intimate screening of R&B singer Mario's MTV documentary, "I Won't Love You To Death: The Story of Mario and His Mom." The hour-long film focuses on the 21-year-old Baltimore native's struggle with his mother's drug addiction.
The documentary begins with Mario visiting the house he grew up in with his mother, younger brother and grandmother, introducing the back-story to his mother's drug use. "My mom had me at a young age and she was using throughout my life. I used to see needles around the house and worried she was sick. There were times I didn't see my mom for days, for weeks even," Mario says.
When his mother would disappear for days at a time, Mario stayed under the watch and care of his grandmother. After she died when Mario was 12-years-old, he turned to the streets. "I was selling drugs in school at one point. But, anyone that knew me knew that it wasn't me," he admits.
Around the same time, his mother, Shawn, started to enroll him in talent shows and eventually hired a manager for Mario, who moved the teenager to New Jersey. Since Mario only saw his mother a few times a year during this period, he decided to invite her to go on the road with him.
In the next scene, Shawn is running up a $2,000 bill at a clothing boutique. Mario, who sponsors her shopping spree, suspects she is using again. "I like buying stuff for her but it feels like I'm saying 'It's ok.' I should say, 'Until you get yourself together, it's a no,'" he says.
The situation deteriorates to the point that Mario forces an intervention with the help of his mother's boyfriend and another friend. That day, Mario writes a letter to his mother that reads, "I'm writing to show and tell you how much I love and appreciate you. Growing up without a father was hard, but it was even harder growing up with my only mom with an addiction. I never understood why you spent so much time in the bathroom as a kid. I love you so much, but I won't love you to death. I'm not saying no to you, I'm saying no to the addiction. I don't want you to take this as us forcing you. I want to give you life like you gave me. Please say yes, take a flight to a treatment facility. Will you take this gift?"
Shawn agrees... but, before she goes, she asks Mario to give her $50 to get her last fix. When she returns from buying her drugs, she prepares it in the bathroom as Mario watches.
Shawn is admitted to a detox facility in Los Angeles, where she successfully remains clean for a month. Mario visits her and when the month is up he asks her to stay a little longer as a preventative measure. She agrees, and Mario, at ease, goes out and celebrates his 21st birthday, which wraps up the film.
After the screening, Shawn and Mario, who were both present, were grateful enough to answer a few questions from the audience. When asked what advice he would give someone else who has a family member or friend on drugs, Mario, who recently launched his Do Right Foundation to help other youths in similar situations, said "Put God first, stick with the person and talk to someone about it."
"I Won't Love You To Death: The Story of Mario and His Mom," premieres Sunday on MTV.