The flyest spot in New York on Tuesday nights is definitely Spotlight Live. 1st Class Entertainment puts on a weekly extravaganza called R&B Live where some of the biggest names in R&B — both now and from back in the day — jump onstage and sing with a live band. It’s a sexy night for the music industry, where stars like Beyoncé, Mya, Fantasia, Ne-Yo, Lil’ Mo, Jade, Jagged Edge and others have shown the crowd that real singing will never die.
On Tuesday night, Diddy hosted a showcase for a gaggle of R&B acts on his Bad Boy label. He has a slew of releases coming in the next few months and wanted to let his friends in showbiz know why he’s so excited. Fat Joe, Ray J, Missy Elliott and Naughty by Nature were among those in the audience.
First up to bat were Diddy’s all-male group, which is still going by the name “Making the Band 4.” When are they going to get a real name? The guys did show that they had real talent, getting applause from the audience with their brief set. It was a tough start though, because the guys’ mics were messed up and they actually had to leave the stage while the technical difficulties were resolved. Upon their return, the guys performed their new single, “Got Me Going,” and at certain points, you could see Puff sitting at the head of table giving instructions to the guys with their dance moves.
“The goddess of Bad Boy,” Cheri Dennis, came out afterward and performed her new single “Portrait of Love.” Dennis, who’s been on the label for years, had the presence of veteran. Her album In and Out of Love was released digitally a few weeks ago, and the hard CD comes out on February 26.
The highlight of the night was definitely Janelle Monet, who looks like she has the most star potential of any of Bad Boy’s new breed — she even had her own fan section sprinkled throughout the audience. She wearing a bow tie (!) and, on a scale of 1 to 10, her energy level was at 15. Her sound reminds you of bit of Panic! at the Disco mixed with Estelle and Kelis — call it soulful punk-pop.
“We need that,” said Diddy — who spent a lot of time going from his seat to the stage — after his show-stealer left the stage. She got the loudest ovation of the night. “We need that in music. A star got up on this stage tonight!”
The vibe was so up that ’90s singer Jeff Redd, who helped discover Mary J. Blige and get her signed, got up onstage and sang his two most well-known records, “I Found Lovin’ ” and “You Called & Told Me.” Naughty by Nature followed, getting up from the crowd and giving a potent medley of their classics “O.P.P.,” “Uptown Anthem,” “Feel Me Flow” and “Hip Hop Hooray.” However, the trip down memory lane jumped the shark minutes later when Dana Dane got onstage. Not that the crowd doesn’t love the old-school MC, but when he started singing “Dayyyyyyynnnnna Dane.com” instead of “Dayyyyyyynnnnna with fayyyyyyme,” his time onstage was going downhill.
Danity Kane, who arrived late because of a photo shoot, closed out the night. Dressed down in shorts and jeans, the ladies sang “Show Stopper” and their new single, “Damaged.”
Making the Band 4 drop their debut LP on March 11, while Danity Kane release Welcome to the Dollhouse on March 18.