It could have been dope. I guess that’s what pisses me off — it could have legitimately been dope. I mean, it sounded so sweet: The red-carpet premiere of a new concert film called Salute to the SLAB, a high-definition chronicle of “the evolution of Houston’s music scene,” starring the likes of Bun B, Z-Ro, Paul Wall, Scarface, Slim Thug and Li’l Keke? Wow. Sounds like a plan! How did I even miss that concert? Apparently, it was filmed last November at House of Blues. Hey, no matter. The movie premiere was at Belvedere last night, and the media was invited. Score!
The PR agency handling the premiere wanted us there early — media check-in was at 6 p.m. Maybe that should have been a red flag, since you and I both know good and goddamn well that no hip-hop event has ever occurred anywhere near that hour in the whole history of scratchin’ and rhymin’. I hedged my bets by showing up 30 minutes late. I was told that the red carpet would kick off at 7. Great! My first and only question was, “What time will the screening be?”
The firm and immediate response was 8:30 p.m. Okay, perfect. That would give me time to grab a sandwich at Potbelly and be back in time to catch some primo red-carpet action. Of course, if I’d known how long the red-carpet bullshit was actually going to last, I probably would have ordered dessert.
Did I mention it was raining? It was. Well, not raining, exactly, I guess — it was sort of misting. A sort of horizontal rain that just clung heavily to everyone and everything outside as PR folks and a small cluster of bloggers worked over the few “celebrities” who’d accepted their invitation. Wreckshop Records founder Derrick “D-Reck” Dixon was the first down the line at 7 p.m., leading me strongly to believe that he has a vested interest in this movie. I didn’t recognize anybody else who hit the carpet until singer Just Brittany arrived about an hour later, decked out in a ravishing, high-slit wizard robe.
On TV, somebody always announces the celebs as they arrive on the red carpet. Nobody was doing that on Tuesday. A parade of people conducted YouTube interviews on their way inside, and it was impossible to even hear them speak, let alone figure out who they were. It’s difficult to convey exactly how boring this was. Imagine a Dementor sucked out every last bit of interest you had in living for another nanosecond, I guess. And imagine it happened in the Belvedere parking lot.
Then 8:30 came and went, and I was starting to get antsy. The women around me who had been trying to do whatever media jobs they’d been hired to do out there on the asphalt were really starting to have enough of getting their hair rained on, and I was right there with them. I asked the PR guy who seemed to be running the show when we might go inside and watch the movie. He told me he had some more A-listers coming through and didn’t want us to miss them. Uh, okay.
He was sort of right. Li’l Keke did come through, finally. It’s always good to see a top-flight S.U.C. original. I could barely hear one of the vloggers ask him about Houston’s younger generation of rappers following in his footsteps. But I had seen everybody who was going inside, and it was clear that this was not a party for any sort of younger generation. The majority of the crowd was way over 30. The kind of people with kids at home. And it was damn near 10 p.m. already. Where was the film premiere I was sent to cover?
Finally, I was led inside, just before 10. The screening would be happening soon, I was told. But I saw no sign of that. There was a DJ spinning away inside, and another outside. Bottle-service waitresses holding up sparklers criss-crossed the room. There wasn’t a projection screen set up anywhere, or even a big TV. This was a film premiere? Aw, fuck. This was just a regular night at Belvedere.
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Still, I held out hope. Don Ke was there, at least! Surely one of these TVs could be turned off of SportsCenter and onto Scarface! Where the fuck was Z-Ro? Pictures made it look like he was wearing a bow tie for his performance! You don’t see that every day. You don’t see that EVER. PUT THAT SHIT ON THE TV, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.
I looked around for the P.R. people to ask when that might happen, but they had disappeared. So I just hung out and waited, my useless press pass clipped to my jacket like a fucking goon. I really hadn’t planned on paying $6 per Budweiser on a Tuesday night, but there wasn’t much else to do, and nobody passed me a blunt.
By 11 p.m., after a steady diet of Keke and Screw from the DJ, I was pretty well convinced that no screening of Salute to the SLAB was forthcoming. Is it still a film premiere if the film no-shows? For all I know, the movie captures the greatest live performance in the history of Houston hip-hop, assuming it actually exists somewhere. I'd really love to tell you all about it. The fact that it couldn’t be seen at its own premiere, though, leads me to believe that you might have difficulty getting your hands on a copy.
There’s a special place in hell for disorganized and misleading hip-hop events. I bet it looks a lot like Belvedere. At 11:30, I bounced, feeling like every bit the sucker I’d been made. Hanging out with strangers at an Uptown Park lounge on a Tuesday night isn’t something I’ll probably ever recommend. And the next time I get invited to a “film premiere,” I’m asking for a DVD.