PHARRELL AND FRIENDS
at Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, February 23
The theme of “Skateboard P” Pharrell’s night was “Getting Back to the Family,” and, sure enough, at KDAY’s VIP pre-party, there was DJ Julio G.’s teenage daughter Dominique among the young crowd, dancing to DJ Icey Ice’s set. Comedian Guy Torry, who emceed, kept the diverse and sparsely populated house amused through the regular show’s early yawners, Teairra Mari and the boy group O.N.E. “This is Black History Month,” he proclaimed as a white sound crew set up for Bobby Valentino, “and we got white people working for blacks — I like this!”
Short and blingin’, Bobby gave the kids the “Cali song” they wanted: “I saw you walking down on Melrose/You looked like an angel/Straight out of heaven, girl” — yup, it was the smash hit “Slow Down,” and the little ones went crazy, y’all.
Intermission. Realizing the thing around my neck was an “All Access” pass, I strolled down to the basement, where — bam — it was Skateboard P himself, taking pictures with his young fans. Snap, whirr, he was gone, so I grubbed on some food backstage, where the Lakers were on TV, punking SacTown by 30. Oh: There goes Mr. Six Pack, Tyrese. Dude is stocky and solid enough to take care of himself, but his entourage rolled 10 deep on the way to the stage, where he did “Just a Baby Boy.” The number’s from the film Baby Boy, featuring Snoop — who was down here in the basement somewhere; I could smell it in the air. Meanwhile, up top, Tyrese’s classic “Sweet Lady” got the ladies, young and old, screamin’ and shoutin’.
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The surprise of the night was Robin Thicke, son of television star Alan. Newly signed to Pharrell’s Star Trak label and produced by Pharrell on the upcoming album The Evolution of Robin Thicke, R.T.’s trying to create an R&B sound for himself, after writing songs for Christina Aguilera, Brandy, Mya, Usher and Marc Anthony. With a full backup band, Robin showed skills on piano, rocking soulful jams that all seemed to have “loving U” in the lyrics. You know he’ll be taking over the radio airwaves.
Then it was time. Pharrell, in full Ice Cream gear, walked around backstage with a brown leather doctor’s bag — he was there to help — then hit the stage with “Ladies and gentlemen, yezir, let’s do it!” and locked into “Can I Have It Like That.” The kids went bonkers unabated through “I Just Want to Love U” and “Frontin’.”
Since this was “Pharrell and Friends,” much of the limelight shone on the latter. First it was the Clipse (Malice and Pusha T); the crowd sang the chorus to “Grindin’” with that fat beat, and it was a beautiful thang. A cornrolled-out Omarion followed with some crazy Michael Jackson pop-lock moves, running around the stage as if possessed. Then the man himself, Snoop Dogg, walked out like a boxer before a big fight, hooded up in Ice Cream gear. He and Pharrell busted into the soulful “Beautiful,” and yezir! it was lovely. When the two dropped “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” the place erupted — the two even started to Crip-walk, with Pharrell’s colorful boxers showing. Just when everyone thought it was over, the last friend dropped in: the Country Grammar boy himself, Nelly, taking it solo on “Grillz” and “Hot In Herre.” Sure was.