NEW YORK You have to love the power of the VIP laminated pass. It gets you through a venue's alternative entrances, while regular ticketholders stand on line, getting frustrated waiting to go through the front. And once you're in, the VIP pass is your all-access permit, backing down the husky bouncers who guard the velvet rope like vampires seeing a holy cross.
On Tuesday night, the VIP laminate was as indispensable as Batman's utility belt if you were attending Vibe magazine's shindig at Webster Hall (if for nothing else to escape having to wait in the relentless rain to get in the front door). The event was further evidence the smoothed-out publication is really trying to step up to the plate on the NYC party circuit. (Click here for photos from the event)
The music industry hasn't had too many on-point fiestas this year in the Big Apple other than the Brandy album release soiree a few weeks ago, in which the magazine had a hand as well. The Webster Hall party saw such celebs as Ludacris, Slick Rick and Mr. Cheeks performing, while others, including Busta Rhymes, the founders of FUBU, producer Rockwilder and Kimora Lee Simmons, yucked it up with each other.
Upstairs in the area of the privileged, such cats as Fat Joe's protégé Tony Sunshine roamed amongst the likes of Onyx's Fredro Starr and Busta Rhymes. Speaking of Busta, that old trusty VIP pass allowed the legal-age partygoers to follow his lead and command the bartenders to "pass the Courvoisier" (or any other spirit, for that matter) free of charge when the night's host, DJ Kid Capri, threw on Bus' current single.
"I'm not doing this for nothing," Capri said when he stopped the record, teasing the crowd, which turned the energy up a couple of notches when it heard the animated rapper's recorded voice asking, "Don't this sh-- make a n---a wanna jump?"
"Y'all going to have to get more hyped than that," Kid continued before satiating the partygoers with the track. It was only right Capri show some compassion for the audience everyone had just danced themselves silly, wopping to the sounds of Hip-Hop Hall of Famer Slick Rick. The Ruler came out and hit the crowd with a bevy of his classics, including "La-Di-Da-Di," "The Show" and "Mona Lisa" before taking it back to the '80s 1988 to be exact.
Rick had somewhat of a modern-day coronation before his finale, "Children's Story." He took off all of his platinum and ice and a woman brought him some more jewelry. He then put on enough gold chains and medallions to turn Mr. T into a playa hata.
No hate, just "Southern Hospitality" from the night's headliner, Ludacris. He started his set off by showing love with his part from "Welcome to Atlanta." "My man Jermaine Dupri is another person who gave me a big break back in the days," Cris said last week in Cancun, Mexico. "He put me on the John Madden 2000 video game. If anybody remembers, that's me rapping at the beginning of the video game. 'Welcome to Atlanta' is bringing people to your neighborhood. We decided to bring the whole world to the ATL. It was a lot of fun shooting that video."
Cris, who may join the Usher tour this May (you can catch him on the remix to the singer's "U Don't Have To Call"), said he wants to have just as wild of a time on the set of his next clip, "Move B***h."
"Video plans, it's just gonna be wild," he said. "We don't even have to have a high budget, it could be low budget as long as we acting rowdy and real crazy in the video. It's a real aggressive song, it's hard in the clubs. It's basically, when you need some room, you need somebody to get the hell out the way. Say if you're driving in your car and you want them to move. You wanna tell them, 'Move, get out the way.' "
He made that same analogy onstage while performing the song sans the track's guest star, Mystikal. Don't feel sorry for him, the New Yorkers participated enough so he wouldn't feel alone. It was a literal call to arms or at least elbows on "Southern Hospitality" ("When you get on the flo, throw them bows," was the call and response on that song). The "oooh, oooh," squawk went out on "Saturday (Oooh Oooh!)," and a few minutes before Luda stepped offstage, the chant of "roll out" rang out as he performed the closer, "Roll Out (My Business)."
"It's great when you're performing, because the more hits you have the more of a catalog you have to do," Cris said of rocking shows. "You get creative on how you gonna put the songs together and do each one back to back."