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Behind the VMA scenes: heat and crunk

A busy week in Miami — with free stuff and a resurgence of rock
/ Source: The Associated Press

Few people can resist the lure of free stuff. Especially celebrities.

Jessica Alba, Nick Cannon, Lil Jon, Shaquille O’Neal, John Singleton, Christina Milian and numerous other stars made their way to The Sagamore Hotel from Friday to Sunday to visit The Style Villa, where they could scoop up a variety of swag: lingerie, satellite radios, jeans, video-ready cell phones, free haircuts, even monogrammed boots.

When asked what he liked most about the Style Villa, Jadakiss replied: “Everything. I ain’t gonna lie.”

The gravel-voiced gangsta rapper sat to have anti-wrinkle cream slathered on his hands and carried a $200 Bratz backpack — complete with doll, MP3 player and videogame — for his children.

“This is what I love most about these events — the giveaways,” said Jadakiss, who named his Sidekick mobile device as the most prized gift of the day. “They give away everything.”

Well, not quite everything.

At the Alpha Omega Jewelers suite, stars could admire luxury watches priced from $2,000 to $50,000 — which were for borrowing only.

Feel the heatThe scorching Miami heat suited the hip-hoppers just fine.

Forget jeans and T-shirts — suits were the order of the day in the hot, humid weather: Jay-Z in a blue striped ensemble; Snoop Dogg, The Game, Akon, and the Ying Yang Twins in white; 50 Cent in gray. Kanye West showed up smoking a cigar and wearing a white sportscoat and dark pants. Usher wore a light blue coat with white pants and a yellow shirt.

Legendary producer Quincy Jones wore a white suit with a royal blue shirt.

“It’s Miami, sexy white,” Jones said.

Rock returnsLast year’s Video Music Awards winners reflected hip-hop’s dominance in the major categories, with people like Jay-Z, OutKast, Usher taking home trophies.

But rock made its move this year, with Green Day leading everyone with eight nominations and Coldplay, The Killers, Beck, My Chemical Romance and the Foo Fighters making strong showings.

“I think rock music is getting better,” said Killers lead singer Brandon Flowers. “The best (selling) music has been hip-hop for quite a while. So those guys are making the money and making the videos.”

Green Day guitarist-singer Billie Joe Armstrong said bands will be recognized if they make original, honest music, no matter the genre.

“A lot of rock bands had to step up to the plate and create a stronger message,” Armstrong said. “That’s the reason that hip-hop is so dominating, is that there’s a true message behind what they’re doing.”

More awards“Moon men” weren’t the only trophies being handed out in Miami this weekend.

The BMI Urban Awards, honoring top songs and songmakers, were doled out Friday night at the Fountainebleau Resort on Miami Beach.

Among the stars who turned out were R. Kelly and Lil Jon, who received songwriter of the year honors; rappers Fat Joe and Game, who both performed; production duo The Neptunes; and Charlie Wilson and The Gap Band, who were honored as BMI Icons.

Lil Jon also received honors for song of the year for penning the Usher hit “Yeah!” and for urban ringtone of the year.

“I’m just happy to be honored as someone who’s making music,” Lil Jon told The Associated Press.

The awards were the first stop for Lil Jon on Friday night; he hosted his own exclusive bash at The Shore Club later that evening.

“(Miami) is just the perfect city,” the Atlanta-based rapper/producer said. “The good thing is you can go to two or three parties a night.”

But despite his “crunk king” reputation, Lil Jon predicted a relatively calm night — at least for him.

“I like a low-key party,” he said.


A first for ShakiraShakira is the first artist to earn a best female video nomination for a song in Spanish.

The Columbian-born singer-songwriter earned the nomination for her suggestive, sensual “La Tortura,” which also features troubadour Alejandro Sanz.

“I’m thrilled and I still have not recovered from the excitement the nomination provokes inside me,” she told The Associated Press in an interview ahead of the awards.

The blonde songstress said she felt it was the right time to make a video that could transcend language and culture.

“One of the biggest dreams that I wanted to fulfill with my album was to actually start breaking some these pseudo-rules that the industry has,” she said.