2019 is a wrap! Congratulations, you made it through that series of judo throat chops that was 2019. Hunny, baby, chile we went through it these last 365 days, didn’t we? So much so, that if I wanted to, I could make do a whole R.I.P roll call – and that goes for people, places and things. There were so many folks I had to say farewell to that I’m afraid if I start listing them, I will leave somebody off for sure. Just know that all of them are in my thoughts and I’m praying for families daily. We lost staple businesses and a whole transit system. 2019 was a mamma jamma! We went from “living our best lives” in 2018 to “Lord, just let me make it through.” Go ahead and consider yourself blessed as we go into 2020. I guess I will go ahead and get into the good, bad and ugly of it all as far as these streets go.
Black businesses on the bright side. After delays, 2019 meant that we were finally able to get a taste of Prime 55 – and it was worth the wait. And like a plus-sized catfish on a hook wound with raw bacon, Bait popped up out of nowhere to be the pescatarian restaurant we never knew we needed, but can’t live without. And after operating for nearly a year as a special event space, we saw House of Soul get the greenlight to be added to the weekly downtown nightlife scene. I know it was an annual thing as opposed to an every-day establishment, but the triumph for the Taste of Black St. Louis 2019 was so magical on that Saturday that the general population edition was wondering if we got the memo that it was returning downtown. I also want to shout out the Urban Business Exchange that had African American Entrepreneurs mixing and mingling.
Get into these galas. We went through it 2019, but you couldn’t tell by the way we got dressed up and stepped out for a handful of galas that had black girl magic and black boy joy on full display. I’ll start with our 32nd Annual Salute to Excellence in Education, which handed out $1.2M in scholarships. I’m not being partial. I’m stating facts. But we weren’t the only one. That Urban Sprouts Gala En Blanc was absolutely every single doggone thing. Seeing all those lovely folks in white perched in the middle of Kiener Plaza was the epitome of elegant drip. Then the 100 Black Men’s Winter Royale brought the folks out in their good clothes yet again. It was life. Then seven days later the DELUX had the distinction of the last non-New Year’s Eve formal event of the year with their Power 100 and it lived up to all of the hype and then some. While I plan to leave most of 2019 behind after marking myself safe. I really hope that the black glamour and black excellence energy we saw new levels of slaps right on into 2020.
Perched at the Pageant. If I added up the good times I had at concerts over 2019, I would say plenty of those minutes saw me up in the Pageant. My left knee never quite recovered from trying to keep up with Meghan Thee Stallion’s 30-minute power twerk session. Plies and Jeezy had folks spilling over into the Halo Bar and watching their sets via satellite. And let’s not forget the glorious live show experience that Lizzo gave the girls.
A mix of fond memories. Since I don’t have all the space in the world, my next mentions were quite a bit of fun that I didn’t have space to fit into their own items. These are in no particular order, but they all gave me life for one reason or another. The first one that pops up in my mind was the Cognac, Bars and Cigars party at Bar Napoli with sounds served up by Love Jones The Band. I was on Primatene Mist and Mucinex for a week recovering from all that smoke, but it was worth it. Angel’s birthday edition of “A Night of Soul Searching” starring BJ The Chicago Kid and a whole host of saingas (yes, saingas) that could croon some of your favorite pop stars under the table, gave me much life as well. The Culture Kickback that took place near 4210 Duncan in mid-August was absolutely everything. It was a Solange or Janelle Monae away from being our own personal AfroPunk. Oh, and even though it needs to be moved to Bush Stadium or The Dome, I would say Art, Beats and Lyrics was definitely among the year’s highlights – as was the vibe Kelly Price brought to the Remy Martin Taste of Luxury that doubled as the birthday set for my girl Lisa West. I see you Cash!
The ‘oh no they didn’t’ of 2019. Let me just crop the hot mess all together in one swoop. Did y’all really, like for real, for real think that Jaheim was actually going to show up with that sage colored press-n-curl of his and give y’all the raspy vocals he’s deprived y’all of for the past decade this past spring? He said he was never coming back. In the words of our own late great Dr. Maya Angelou, “when someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Jess Hilarious, girl…you really don’t know our city if you think that you can just come to town to headline a comedy show and not elicit a chuckle. I heard you were down-to-earth behind the scenes. I appreciate that, but that wasn’t the job you had to do when you came here. Luckily for you, St. Louis comedians are funnier than anything poppin on the mainstream – so Hot Sauce, Jovan Bibbs, Maurice G and Jessie Taylor had your back. And speaking of underwhelming comedians, I’mma go ahead and admit I hardly caught a cackle from Mike Epps for the second year in a row at New Year’s Eve Comedy Jam. I’ve given him the benefit of the doubt because there were times when I would be rolling around in my seat like a tornado from his funny, but the other night was not one of them. I knew when he came out talking about how cold it was that it was going to be a lukewarm set at best. I was like, “sir, it’s Halloween weather out there.” I am grateful that he had some new material though. But if we are basing on who got the most laughs Mark Curry was once again the MVP. Okay, and now we have reached the lowest of the low for 2019 in my books. It should come as no surprise since it made national news that St. Louis is not the crowd to play with, but I will go ahead and crown Master P and ‘nem as worst in show for that No Limit debacle. I have used all the words I have left to give on it, so we will just leave it at them taking the L of the year – and perhaps the decade – with that tragic showcase.