I'm pretty sure I'm not supposed to share Vegas stories, a la "what happens in Vegas..." but I like breaking rules, and I'm way too stoked about this one, so let me tell you about last night.
Scandalous, I know...
Wow, I've totally just set you up for disappointment. This is not at all scandalous.
You can stop reading now. I won't be butthurt. Anyway, I found myself rubbing elbows with hip-hop royalty last night at The Foundry at SLS Hotel. The Blaze the Beats competition went down, and I decided to pack my sorry self down there and check it out. Somehow I was on the media list, so why not? I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but grabbed a camera, threw on some heels and tottered my way over to SLS. That's right, I photographed in a cute outfit and actual, real girl heels. A first for me. And yes, tottering hazardously is the best I can do in heels. I'm no miracle woman.
These is me, having survived getting there in heels. Proud moment.
SLS is one of my favorite Vegas hotels. It somehow sidesteps the kitsch and crap of many Vegas establishments and manages to have a trendy, chill vibe. The Foundry, likewise, is upscale but unassuming and generally quite an easy place to hang out. Last night it was packed. An impressive crowd. I walk in, just in time to catch Taylor Bennett on stage; a little formulaic but great energy. I grab a Titos & lime and find a spot to photograph, next to our esteemed judge panel headed by Busta himself.
Actually, wait, let's rewind. I have a somewhat checkered past with hip-hop genres, and have photographed some shows that left me thoroughly unimpressed (not naming names, won't do it...). So I wasn't quite sure on this one. But the romanticism of old school hip-hop and the desire to see five hungry young stars prove their grit in front of the king himself was too much to decline. Couldn't miss it, so I tottered.
Blaze the Beats was borne of Busta's desire to contribute to the next generation of hip-hop artists; "I'm looking to give back and help provide opportunities for the next generation." The five finalists hail from all over the US, and were selected and mentored personally by Busta Rhymes. They're here to throw it down, each to the same beat, written by Busta himself and face off for a delicious prize of $50,000. They threw in a couple of other neato hip-hop artists as the icing on that doritos-flavored cake (yum). Shit I sound white. To wrap it up, the show is headlined by a personal favorite, Wiz Khalifa.
They're stunningly flawless, every single one of them. The energy, showmanship, stage presence and professionalism makes me wonder how they're not already a big thing. Good job, Busta. After some backflips, some flames and a silently secretive judge panel tallying up scores, Enoch Tolbert - my personal favorite, no less - is announced the winner. Deserved.
Hey Enoch, can I borrow $50k? ...no? Okay.
They bring out Wiz Khalifa and from here on out, it's insanity. I'll admit I've never photographed him before and I'm absolutely blown away with his set. From old classics (Black & Yellow? Yes please...) to his newer songs.. even a gut-jabbing rendition of my See You Again (oh, that one still brings tears to my eyes). I'm left floored, riveted, trying not to dance too much (gotta get those crisp pics) and I walk out happy. What a great start to the weekend.
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