If there was any question that Young Money Cash Money Billionaires lives up to its high-rolling moniker, then one would need look no further than the annual pre-Grammy party thrown by the New Orleans-bred, currently Miami-based label group that brought us hip-hop superstars like Lil Wayne and Drake. The annual party has become one of the premier Grammy Week events: in 2012, it was held at Paramount Studios, while this year’s edition took place at The Lot, another massive Hollywood film-soundstage complex. Appropriately, the theme for 2013 is “vintage Vegas,” according to David Berke, president of event-planning/design firm Colin Cowie. “It’s ‘Rat Pack’ mixed with Crazy Horse: classy and elegant, but a little bit wrong.” That’s clear from the authentic ’51 Cadillac at the end of the red carpet, exclusive V.I.P.-only cabanas that could’ve come from Caesar’s Palace during Elvis’ fat years, and the omnipresent weed smell. Hey, it’s practically legal in California, right?
Inside the cavernous makeshift ballroom, burlesque dancers gyrate above a high-tech, LED-bedecked stage, where DJ Telemitry pumps beats for the boldfaced likes of Paris Hilton, Afrojack, Ashanti, Mya, Christina Milian, Kelis, Meek Mill, and much of the YMCMB roster — in addition to an elite ground of label chiefs, A&Rs, branding execs, publishers, managers, and all around biz power players. “We’re the tastemakers, and this is the congratulations for our accomplishments,” explains producer Detail (Lil Wayne, Pussycat Dolls, Beyoncé) before firing up a blunt. The evening really kicked off around midnight, finding Ace Hood spitting on the mic, DJ Khaled storming the stage to spin Drake’s new single, “Started from the Bottom,” in honor of the double-Grammy nominee’s presence, and YMCMB co-founder/artist Bryan “Birdman” Williams receiving a car-shaped birthday cake. We can’t make this stuff up.