Stars and fans alike enveloped Midtown's Gotham Hall to check out the Heineken Red Star Soul Concert featuring Hip-Hop upstart Wale, Brit singer Estelle and rap stalwart Ludacris. The show brought out a colorful crop of celebs like Mario Lopez, Q-Tip, Grandmaster Flash, Emmy Rossum and Regina King to revel in the name of good music and dranky dranks.
Funnyman Godfrey MC'ed the show, warming up the crowd with jokes about his Nigerian background and immigrant foibles. Then fellow Nigerian-American star Wale kicked off the night with tracks like “The Feature Heavy Song” and “Nike Boots” and got the crowd moving to his Lady GaGa-assisted hit, “Chillin.'”
Backstage, Wale chatted about his current tour with Jay-Z and N.E.R.D. “Jay...he's elusive; you don't really see him that much. You see him... come out the car, go to the dressing room, hit the stage, [then] vanish. Everyone else pretty much we see them in catering and eat together and chill together.”
Next, Biz Markie DJ'ed sunny nineties jams like Arrested Development's “Everyday People” and The Fugees “Killing Me Softly.” But he couldn't resist stepping away from the decks to bust out his feel-good calling card, “Just A Friend” and get patrons -- lubricated from the free booze -- wailing “oh baby you!”
Estelle, who is working on the follow-up to her Grammy-winning album Shine, hit the stage in vampy thigh-hi boots and cranked rock-inflected versions of songs like “American Boy” and “Come Over” with her 6-piece band.
She also gave her thoughts about that whole Balloon Boy mess. “First, I was like, is this a joke? Then it was like, he may have fallen out and I was like okay, no that's serious. Then they were talking about okay, he was hiding in the attic and his dad was probably behind it. Then it was like these people are nuts.”
Ludacris, whose new album "Battle of the Sexes" is due in stores soon, rocked speaker-rattling tracks like “Southern Hospitality” and “What's Your Fantasy” in addition to rhyming over tracks like Shawty Lo's “Foolish” and Jim Jones' “Pop Champagne.”
Luda stayed true to his Twitter promise that NYC was in for a big surprise when midway through his performance Nas bounded on to the stage. The Queens MC riled the crowd with a mini-set of hits including “Made You Look,” “The World Is Yours” and his Big Apple anthem, “N.Y. State of Mind.”
Snaps to Luda for actually dropping some New Yorkers' jaws.