The night of Young Leaders has arrived. The hour is upon us! That’s right – tonight we will celebrate the future (and the present) of the region by giving props to the 2019 cohort at the St. Louis American Foundation’s 9th Annual Salute to Young Leaders Networking Reception and Awards Program happening this evening (5:30 p.m.) at The Four Seasons. Since this is merely my last-minute reminder, I will reserve all of the excitement pumping through my chest for the recap. There may be some scattered tickets available, so call (314) 533-8000 or visit www.stlamerican.com and be sure to leave on your work clothes if you decide to slide through because it is a corporate black excellence affair.
That 90s slow jam. I was already feeling a type of way because I wasn’t boo’d up this Valentine’s Day. And James Biko made it the absolute worst by turning that 90’s Jam into a quiet storm session. I promise that the only thing that made me sure that I wasn’t in the middle of a Majic 108 time warp was that I didn’t hear Doc Wynter give the excerpt from the “Don’t Quit” poem to sign off for the night. The good news is Biko was breaking out all of the jams – H-Town, Jodeci, SWV. Romance was in the air, thanks to one of my favorite R&B decades of the 20th century. How can you hear “Knockin’ Da Boots” and not be preheated for some “good lovin’ body rockin’ all night long?” Based on the crowd full of couples’ reaction, you don’t! Listen, I haven’t seen so much clothes burnin’ public displays of affection since the Northwest High School Sweetheart Dance of 1991. I’m hoping Biko decides this will become an annual thing. Actually, I hope it’s more than just on Valentine’s Day – that he will spring a 90s Slow Jam on us arbitrarily over the course of the year. A summer rain edition with ladies in sundresses and the brothers in boat shoes would be epic.
Babyface bossed the St. Louis Music Festival. Let me tell y’all I thought I would be at Friday night’s concert by myself, but folks braved those slippery roads to get their annual dose of Uncle Charlie Wilson and company as his party train of light-up blazers and matching shoes choo-choo through Chaifetz for the St. Louis Music Festival. Now folks are starting to complain that he does the same show every year, but I look at it like my favorite sitcom scenes that I can watch over and over. I felt like Uncle Charlie wasn’t his typical self on stage Friday night – I feel like there’s a health issue. He did casually mention he needed some knee surgery as he performed. Last time he wasn’t at his usual 110 percent, we found out that he had to get major back surgery. He gave all he had, he just didn’t have as much as usual. That voice was life though. And there was that weird moment where Babyface and Joe came out and sang and everyone thought that meant the show was over – so they punched it out of there, but the show went on. Then he asked the folks to beg him for an encore. When they did, he all but dropped the mic like Randy Watson from Sexual Chocolate. It was quite confusing. I was fine with the whole turn of events, because I got my whole entire life from Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds. My seat neighbor felt a way about him doing half of Bobbaye’s “Don’t Be Cruel” album, but I enjoyed that and the whole segment of him highlighting the hits he wrote and produced …well, except for the part when he took his shirt off. He looks great for 60, I just wasn’t expecting to see nipples from a man of a certain age at this show. And shout out to Eastside’s own Andre Delano for holding it down for Babyface on the horns and second tenor vocals. Joe was life more abundantly as well in that hot red tuxedo! His voice was as smooth as that red velvet cake blazer. And he didn’t go off on the sound people one single time.
Raheem’s red hot soul. Speaking of red suits, I knew Raheem DeVaughn was playing no games at the Sophisticated Soul Tour Sunday night when he popped out of a trap door on the side of the Stifel stage in a full length fur and a hot fire red three-piece Valentime’s Day suit – yes, the suit was so soulful, I had to use an “m” – and scooted across the stage like his name was Silky or Teddy Sprinkles. I.was.not.ready. I had no idea that Stifel Theatre even had that entry as an option. I was so throwed that I spent the first few minutes wondering if he was in there the whole time Lyfe Jennings was performing or did he come down a chute. He managed to show up Lalah Hathaway– which pains me to say, since I’ve been caping for her since she was introduced to the world by Donnie Simpson on Video Soul back in 1993. Her voice was absolutely everything. The song selection, not so much. She could have given us day-one fans some throwbacks. Lyfe Jennings was cool. He dropped a few wise gems inbetween complaining about the low energy in the crowd and his limited time.
A tale of two hip-hop shows. Because I have limited space and there was so much crackin’ this weekend on the concert tip, I’m going to combine the Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y and Travis Scott shows. Based on the demographic for both crowds, most of y’all aren’t interested anyway. Let me say that Wiz and Curren$y must have been playing NBA 2K19 and rapping over beats and said, “you know what, let’s do this on the road for everybody to see.” They brought the couches and that KK. All that was missing was a PS4 game console and some rap snacks crumbs. It was cute enough, I guess. In the land of opposites, Travis Jenner Scott pulled out all the stops. He had two different roller coaster rides as part of his set for the Astroworld Tour and I absolutely was not ready. He’s only three years or so in as a hip-hop star and I haven’t seen anything like what he put together from the biggest megastars in the world. I’m not the biggest fan of his music (or his politics) but that show made folks say wow. And you know it’s hype if the venue offers a warning that the show is so “high energy that your litty seat neighbor might accidently hit you upside the head in their blind turnup,” before you enter. I thought they were exaggerating until I got plopped with a piece of ice.