You know it’s true … be mad and jealous that the turnup of the peak MTV generation will not be defeated. The folks proved me right when they braved the storm in crimped hair and stonewashed jeans to holler “Whoomp There It Is” from the lawn seats at Hollywood Casino’s 90s House Party Saturday night. Me, Young MC, Tone Loc, Rob Base, Naughty By Nature, Montell Jordan, Coolio and the baritone from All 4 One were about the only black folks up in there. But we still had a ball. Young MC got the party started. I’m not here to body-shame anybody, but the crew in bedazzled ballcaps sitting to my left that looked like anybody’s Aunt Cheryl were in my head when they said, “He needs to go ahead and start buying a 2X.” He sounded great onstage and gave a cute little show as part of the opening roster that got about 9.2 minutes apiece. Was his voice always that ashy? It didn’t stop the women who clearly cut bangs just for the show from grinding up on their high school sweethearts to “Wild Thing.” Coolio needs to let those five braids go so that I won’t be utterly distracted by them and miss him pouring his soul out onstage. And who knew that “Gangsta’s Paradise” is to the general population what “Shed So Many Tears” is to us. They feel that song and know every single word like they are recently reformed from claiming somebody’s set. Now I’ve come to the highlight of the evening for me. Can we talk just for a second about how fine Montell Jordan is? Salvation has done his body good. I don’t remember him being such eye candy – perhaps because I had such an aversion to his biggest hit. He let the folks know that he is a pastor – and even gave a mini sermon about God’s love before jumping into “This Is How We Do It.” The folks were checking for his “the doors of the church are now open moment,” but they quickly forgave him and went about the business of getting their groove on when the song called for it. All 4 One was regular as they borrowed from other 90s boy bands to fill up their set. Rob Base stretched his two songs to 12 minutes and had the place low key rockin.’ I was a bit disappointed in Naughty By Nature. It seems like they still don’t get along – and were onstage together just for the check. And Treach’s Tupac tribute that involved him talking to and pouring Hennessey on his forearm tattoo was a bit much. I was proud of the folks who came of age in the 90s and quick to dispute the claims it was a corny time to be alive – that was until headliner Vanilla Ice came out rapping with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle as his hype man. No seriously…he did. Help. The vibe never bounced back for me.
Two weeks until Salute. Y’all already know what it is and my gown – inspired by the opening the Queen’s opening “Beychella” outfit (yes, girl … the cape and headpiece and all.of.it.) should be ready any day now as we count down the days until The St. Louis American Foundation turns America’s Center into an awards show gala love-child of The NAACP Image Awards and the late, great, Lou Rawls UNCF Parade of Stars. Seriously, we give glamour and black excellence in the name of education every single year and the 31st Annual Salute to Excellence in Education, happening Saturday, September 29 will be no different. I’m predicting Dr. Kacy Seals, principal of Central Visual and Performing Arts High School and Stellar Performer awardee Michael McMillian’s lovely mother Ms. Rita to be among my style winners. But there will certainly be others. I suspect the AKAs will be coordinating as they come out in droves to support Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient Johnetta Haley. It’s going to be a serious matter indeed. Come through and get into it. Each year you can rub shoulders with the who’s who of Black St. Louis – and party like it’s 1999 once the formal program is over. And the icing on the cake is that it’s an opportunity to get into everybody’s elegance and opulence. Every year I am blown away by how y’all bring it with respect to style and grace, so much so that I never tire of talking about it in the weeks leading up to the big evening. And I am thrilled to announce that the foundation is giving away a cool million in scholarships and grants at this year’s Salute. Yes, you read that right. Seven figures, thanks to the foundation and the university partner scholarships that have been established over the years. This year we will be seven figure-givers and I can’t wait to be in the room when it happens. You’ll want to be there too. Get your tickets at stlamerican.com or by calling (314)533-8000.
A tiny taste of Tank and Bangas. I raced down I-70 to catch the super-talented, hip-hop soul band Tank and Da Bangas tear down the stage at the Old Rock House Saturday in a special sold-out LouFest substitute performance. I said to myself “I don’t care if I only get there in time for the last song, I’m going. Be careful what you speak into the universe, because that’s exactly what happened. I came in as they were bowing out and sneaking out the side door. Luckily, they killed it to the point where the folks demanded an encore – and they were nice enough to oblige. As I expected, it was life more abundantly, and so was the show according to the folks who actually caught the whole thing. The whole entire audience (of mostly general population) kept coming up to Theresa Payne telling her how amazing she was. And just before I was about to shame myself by letting the folks know that she is not Tank or one of the Bangas, another person told me that she was invited to do a song on stage during the set and absolutely killed it.
Ready to roll with RBRM. This Sunday, I will know for sure whether New Edition would have been able to function without Ralph or Johnny when RBRM (Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky and Mike) hit the stage at Chaifetz Arena Sunday night. I’ve seen BBD and Bobby Brown separately, so I imagine it’s going to be a great time – and word on the curb is Bobbaye been hitting the gym to get right tight for the tour. I just really hope that folks don’t cut up on the RBRM the way some do every single time they go see Tony! Toni! Tone and act all surprised that Raphael Saddiq is not performing. It’s been almost 20 years since he left the group, why complain if you knew what it was when you bought the ticket. Speaking of tickets, you can get yours for RBRM at ticketmaster.com, all Ticketmaster outlets and the Chaifetz Arena box office.