In his Ode, Pharrell stated that he was â€œproud to be an intellectual. To be the kind of guy who reads books and talks about them and tells other people to read them.â€
[Black Star Music]
The mood at the Highline Ballroom, on a spring-like Tuesday night in New York City, was bursting with excitement as hundreds of hardcore N.E.R.D. fans filled the downtown venue. The Coors Light sponsored Search for the Coldest National Competition and Concert Tour was definitely the perfect nightcap to round out the long Memorial Day weekend. No tickets were sold for the exclusive event. Fans could only gain VIP admission through radio promos. One lucky winner, Amber Lucente, beat out other hopefuls in a freestyle battle on Hot 97 to win tix and free Coors beer.
The MC competition scoured the internet in hopes of discovering the coldest lyricist in the nation. Pouring over hundreds of online video submissions, the final four regional winners were chosen through a series of public voting and industry professionals weighing in. Regional winners share the stage with N.E.R.D. and West Coast based recording artists, Pac Div as they tour four US cities to promote the competition and the release of the highly publicized N.E.R.D. Album, NOTHING. Along with $10,000 worth of studio time provided by Universal Music Group, the grand-prize winner will get the opportunity of a lifetime to open for N.E.R.D. and Pac Div on July 2nd during the ESSENCE Music Festival, in New Orleans.
The night’s hosts, Cipha Sounds and Rosenberg from Hot 97 hit the stage at 8pm cracking a few jokes and getting the crowd hype with the usual NYC roll call (Note: Brooklyn is ALWAYS in the House!) Sure to appeal to the mostly-male audience, were the “Coors Light Girls,” clad in matching white skinny jeans, baby Tees and fitted hats, who dished out promotional freebies and manned Ice Bars throughout the venue.
Also sure to tickle the tastebuds of the crowd, was the debut of the new Coors Light Two-Stage Activation bottles and cans that make it easy to detect when the Coors beer has reached its ultimate chill potential.
Fans were happy to support fellow New Yorker and North Regional winner, Mojeed Amushan aka OMG, as he took the stage. His blend of alternative Hip-Hop/afro-beat/Criolla/ and pop (Think Bob Marley meets Wyclef with a splash of Fela Kuti) showed definite signs of his Brooklyn upbringing and Nigerian roots. While his stage presence could have been raised to the 5th power, his opening stripped down, bare to the bone, almost poetic lyrics showed cleverness and possessed soul.
Win or lose, we are sure to hear from this talented artist again. He called it a “privilege” to perform alongside bands like N.E.R.D. and Pac Div.
Showing a bit of frustration with the waywardness of consumers and artists alike, he acknowledged that it can be “tough performing because nowadays, people don’t know what to listen to,” but felt reassured and hopeful of his success, stating that his goal in the business was to make “heartfelt music and give NYC a sound.”
In between sets, DJ Sean G kept the party thumping with a never-ending barrage of hits from old school Biggie to new school Lil’ Wayne. Any perms in the building were guaranteed to be sweated out.
Pac Div kept the crowd energized without a band, just three black guys with three mics and a white DJ. Their comical lyrics (“…Slip you an Ambien/ You know it’s real when she make sure the rent is in!”) paid homage to the playful shenanigans of Redman and Method Man, and left everyone with something to bop their heads to. When the beat dropped for their hit-track “Mayor,” which has seen heavy rotation on MTV2, they had the entire crowd saluting and parading along.
After over a half hour intermission, the crowd let out a boisterous cheer when frontman Pharrell Williams, and bandmates Chad Hugo and Shae Haley, collectively known as N.E.R.D. (No-one Ever Really Dies) emerged on the stage with their intergalactic vibe. Only a band with such a far-reaching sound could unite hipsters and thugs alike (be they real or wannabe’s…you know the kind that wear sunglasses indoors…); White girls with blond hair, and sistas with afros; and the college skater boy with the corporate exec. Camera phones raised in one hand, and the official N.E.R.D Star Trek-y sign raised in the other, fans savored every wild moment of the concert; from an out of this universe guitar solo to an out-of-body experience for a few lucky concert-goers brought on stage to jam out, front and center, with the band. (Have you ever seen grown men lose their mind, in the name of rock? It happens!).
Pusha T, one half of the Virginia-based group, Clipse, surprised the audience with a special guest appearance, much to their liking.
Before rounding out the night with crowd favorites like, Lapdance, the group gave a public service announcement dedicated to nerds and outcasts everywhere. (The Night seemed to be filled with PSAs as Rosenberg encouraged guests to drink responsibly by sharing a rather personal story of losing a family member to a drunken driving incident).
In his Ode, Pharrell stated that he was “proud to be an intellectual. To be the kind of guy who reads books and talks about them and tells other people to read them.” In approval, the crowd jumped and shouted like a bunch of nerds rejoicing after their hallpass privileges were permanently extended and discovering that study hall was mandatory…through the summer. Now, that would be cold!