NEW YORK — Day three of VMA week saw even more stars hit the town to prepare for the big show. Nelly and the St. Lunatics, Snoop Dogg, Lil Jon and even WWE’s World Heavyweight Champion Edge made the scene Wednesday, mingling with other celebs.
Earlier in the day, you could catch just about every big name at the VMA forum at Radio City Music Hall. No DJ was on hand, but it was definitely a party atmosphere as celebs walked around doing press with a myriad of outlets covering the VMAs. As always, this led to some of the strangest meetings of the stars. You could see Ludacris taking pictures with ring legend Hulk Hogan, while stars such as Rihanna, Yung Joc, Method Man, the Deftones, Lil Jon and Snoop Dogg also showed love to each other.
When evening came, Common arrived in style at Greenwich Village’s Sky Studios for his Maybach-sponsored party — showing up in one of the luxury vehicles, of course, and stopping traffic on Broadway. Co-host Famke Janssen was also on hand, looking sexy in a black Lanvin dress with Yves Saint-Laurent heels. The actress arrived three hours late to the bash and admitted she’s a VMA virgin: “I have never been to the VMAs — and this is my first VMA party, too.” Partygoers — including Sleepy Brown, Biz Markie and L.A. Lakers guard Smush Parker — were treated to a full-fledged New Orleans-style barbecue on a balcony overlooking the city, which worked for Seann William Scott, who said he’s “tired of L.A.” and is relocating to Manhattan.
Farther uptown, at the Hammerstein Ballroom, Ludacris discovered how to throw the ultimate VMA bash: Have no fewer than 10,000 people screaming your name and get the DJ to play your hits for an elongated set.
Sponsored by Cingular Wireless, Luda hosted a concert with DTP singer Bobby Valentino as the opening act. ’Cris, one of rap’s ultimate showmen, rocked the stage for at least 90 minutes with his growing catalog of hits.
Ludacris started his set with the brand new “War With God” off of his Release Therapy LP, and later brought it back to “Potion,” where he switched up his lyrics, saying, “Cristal is no mo’!” “Saturday” and “Southern Hospitality” went over huge as well, and then the rapper brought out his first special guest of the night, Pharrell Williams.
Williams, draped in enough jewels to make King Tut do a double take, helped Luda out on “Money Maker.” Pharrell was supposed to be hosting his own party at Chinatown Brasserie at the same time. Needless to say, that shindig didn’t really kick off until the hitmaker arrived.
’Cris also brought out his new DTP artist, female vocalist Shareefa, but the biggest splash came when he introduced legendary lyricist Nas — who hosted a party for Complex magazine at Milk Studio earlier in the night — rapping on “Virgo” and “Made You Look.”
Stephen Colleti from “Laguna Beach” rocked to 50 Cent’s “Poor Lil Rich” at Lil Jon’s party, where Andy Milonakis worked the crowd. Pitbull followed Jon’s entrance, while E40 came through to show love. Sunset Strip cover band Metal Skool performed for NYC at the crunk-and-rock themed event, where DJs played half hip-hop, half rock and roll, with some songs — including Nelly’s “Grillz” — playing over guitar riffs.
A New York gossip columnist complained upon exiting Timbaland’s party at Nikki Midtown that there weren’t any notables inside — and to the naked eye, that might have been the case. VIPs such as Kanye West and Christina Milian were quickly ushered upstairs, leaving guests with only models dancing on a raised catwalk to gawk at — and since they were in lingerie, how could you not? Unless you caught JT and Cameron Diaz slip in through a side door, there was little sign that Timberlake was in the house as promised — though the presence of JC Chasez and Lance Bass (getting cozy with boyfriend Reichen Lemkuhl) may have tipped you off. Also making the scene were Haylie Duff and her “Hairspray” castmates, Tyrese, “Promiscuous” director Little X, Cool and Dre, Chamillionaire, Slim Thug, Lauren “LC” Conrad, and Pras.
Nas’ wife Kelis was among the crowd at the SoHo Grand dancing to music spun by DJ Clark Kent, who went old school with Madonna’s “Holiday” and the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams.” Four jumbo lamps kept the party tent dimly lit, with people pouring their own drinks instead of waiting to be served. Everybody came for what was supposed to be an Outkast party, but Andre 3000 and Big Boi never showed up.
Another dynamic industry duo was out in full force at their party. Jermaine Dupri and Janet Jackson hosted the Amp’d Mobile and Stuff-sponsored event at Marquee where people like Bow Wow, the Clipse, Korn’s Jonathan Davis and Slim Thug were lucky enough to get in, but one look at the line out front would make you think there was a party happening outdoors. “Harold & Kumar” star John Cho made the cut and said he’s psyched to see Beyoncé take over on the VMA stage. “She is the sexiest, strongest woman I can think of,” he explained. “She is a goddess.”
Down the street at Stereo, DJ AM, Fall Out Boy drummer Andrew Hurley and members of Gym Class Heroes partied at an event where a man dressed in his underwear with the American flag wrapped around his neck was welcomed with open arms. Good Charlotte were supposed to be the night’s guests, but Benji and Joel Madden hadn’t surfaced by 2 a.m.
Jay-Z made sure Wednesday night wasn’t all fun and games, handling his business at the grand opening of Rocawear’s very first store, the Roc Pop Shop. Located near Fashion Week hotspot Bryant Park, the customizing-centric store encourages personal style. And when it comes to riding in style, Swizz Beatz gets the night’s number-one-stunner award. He kept his white Phantom Rolls-Royce parked outside of Manor in plain view of everyone, including Jay and Kanye West, who came through to party with Swizz. Around the corner at Plum, MTVs own Buttahman had a birthday celebration where Hulk Hogan showed up with daughter Brooke.
Night two of VMA week found the parties rocking full-tilt in Manhattan. The biggest problem is not finding a hotspot, but figuring out how long you’re going to stay at one party before moving on to the next — there’s that much going on. …
Early parties Tuesday included the Roots’ album-release party at Cielo in the Meatpacking District, where Ne-Yo and Skillz came through to show love to the legendary rap troupe. Even though the relatively small venue had a VIP section cordoned off with velvet ropes, it didn’t stop the hip-hop band from mingling with the crowd — well, except for ?uestlove, who was busy DJing. The party started off slow, but before long ?uest brought the crowd to the dance floor with a flurry of old-school classics like Salt-N-Pepa’s “Tramp” and Onyx’s “Slam.” …
Elsewhere, Jessica Simpson turned New York’s Roxy into a roller rink for her event, which doubled as a record-release party for her new album, A Public Affair, as well as a pre-VMA soiree (hence the roller-skating Moonman). Pro skaters — in matching purple wigs, kneesocks and black shorts — got the party started, taking a couple of spins around the room to Ciara’s “1,2 Step” and Madonna’s “Holiday” before other guests hit the rink. Gavin DeGraw and Olympic figure-skating champ Oksana Baiul were spotted on the wheels of rubber; Swizz Beatz, Slim Thug and Shannon Elizabeth were seen eyeing skates, although there’s no confirmation as to whether they actually hit the floor. But it wasn’t until Jessica’s own album hit the PA that she made her grand entrance — in a vintage bathing suit, no less. The singer — who’d lost her voice and had to cancel some television appearances earlier this week — lip-synched to her songs “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record),” “Fired Up” and “Push Your Tush” as she spun around the rink, holding hands while skating with hair stylist and business partner Ken Paves. Neither Simpson sibling Ashlee nor alleged squeeze John Mayer were spotted at the Yahoo-sponsored event. …
Meanwhile, at Cipriani, online diamond retailer Whiteflash.com hosted an extravagant party for Missy Elliott and Ciara. Plenty of shrimp, chicken skewers and bruschetta were on offer, as were drink specials like the Missy Breeze, a concoction made of Hpnotiq and coconut rum. DJ Sky Nellor was on the ones and twos, and Dre of Cool & Dre — who is 6 foot 7 inches — was hard to miss. But around 11 p.m., when the party was scheduled to wind down, there was still no sign of either Missy or C. …
While Diddy and members of the Bad Boy family held it down a few blocks away at Bungalow 8, the Meatpacking District kept jumping with two parties. At PM, Ms. Bossy herself, Kelis, had a shindig and of course her soulmate Nas was there, as were Mario, Swizz Beatz and Uncle Luke (a.k.a. Luther Campbell). …
Almost directly across the street at One was a party that was ostensibly a joint effort between Kanye West and the Roots, but even at 2 a.m., when people like NBA legend Reggie Miller and the Black Eyed Peas were filing out, ’Ye had yet to show.
?uestlove obviously still had the itch to spin, as he DJed a set for partygoers like Lance Bass, Shannon Elizabeth and Venus Williams. Later, DJ AM took over to show off his mixing skills, keeping feet moving with tricks like blending Justin’s “SexyBack” with Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy.” The revelry was so unfettered that even the bartender was rapping along with Notorious B.I.G.’s “Going Back to Cali” as he flipped drinks. …
If Diddy’s party on Monday night was any indication of what VMA week holds in store, don’t expect to see many stars out walking around during the day. They’re going to need plenty of sleep, because the nights are already getting pretty wild.
Diddy hosted the week’s first major jump-off, celebrating the launch of superstar stylist June Ambrose’s book, “Effortless Style,” which comes out on September 26. Ambrose, of course, has helped just about all the big names in hip-hop and R&B get fly. Held at Tenjune (get it?) in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, the party’s guest list included hip-hop and R&B’s two most famous power couples, two of the genres’ greatest producers, and also the rocker who brought sexy back almost 30 years ago. Who’s that? Sing along now: “If you want my body and you think I’m sexy …”
“Rod Stewart is in the house!” called out MC Frank Jugga as his partner in crime, DJ Goldfinger, spun Jay-Z’s “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me).” “Yes, I said Rod Stewart is in the house!”
Meanwhile, the Jiggaman and Beyoncé sat in the VIP section with Kanye West. Timbaland, dressed to the nines in a flashy suit, came in moments later to join his pals.
Then it was Diddy’s turn to take the spotlight. He grabbed the mic and let everyone know that his group Danity Kane will be coming in on the top spot of next week’s Billboard albums chart. He also congratulated the crowd on being invited to the party, for which the dress code was “Sexy & Flawless.”
“If you were chosen to be here, it means you exude ’Effortless Style,’ ” he said, adding that although the evening was a celebration of opulence and decadence, no one should take it all too seriously.
“Ladies and gentlemen, report to the dance floor,” he commanded.
Soon, the floor was packed to grinding-room-only status as Goldfinger threw on Diddy’s “Come to Me,” which he brought back several times.
“It feels good to be back,” Diddy, still holding the mic, said. “I missed you. Just rock now, don’t stop now. We Bad Boy baby, you ain’t gotta play the wall. You can dance again. Ask a young lady, ’Would you like to dance?’ ”
As the night progressed, more stars trickled in and the partygoers got more uninhibited. You could see New York Knick Stephon Marbury on the dancefloor, Janet Jackson and Jermaine Dupri standing on the sidelines and a woman who was so amped to hear Justin Timberlake’s “SexyBack” that she jumped on top of a table in another VIP section, dancing over a bottle of vodka and carafes of orange juice and cranberry juice. A man in her entourage was unfazed and continued pouring drinks. Just then, another man in her entourage grabbed the lady by the waist and hoisted her up on his shoulder just like pro wrestler Randy “Macho Man” Savage did to Miss Elizabeth when he won his first world championship at Wrestlemania IV.
More hits, more stars. As “Promiscuous” blasted out of the speakers, the hulking Busta Rhymes was seen walking in the crowd wearing a rope chain thicker than Wonder Woman’s magic lasso.
During the old-school section of the set, Diddy jumped on the dance floor and got down to Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative.” Even the usually reserved Timbaland got up and danced with his hands in the air to Guy’s “I Like.”
Earlier in the night, Jermaine Dupri hosted his own get-together at Show in Times Square. It was a showcase for So So Def singer Johnta Austin, whom you may not know by name, but he’s been one of the most prolific R&B songwriters of the past few years. Besides his work on several songs from Mariah Carey’s Emancipation of Mimi, he’s penned Mary J. Blige’s “Be Without You” and Chris Brown’s “Yo (Excuse Me Miss).”
With people like Janet Jackson and underground MC Red Café looking on, JD introduced his artist who sang several songs from his upcoming LP, Ocean Drive.