So last night I was the guest of the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation at the 4th Annual Ludacris Foundation Benefit Dinner here in Atlanta. The dinner was followed by a Casino Night After-Party.
Contrary to the one sided image of hip hop that the media portrays, The Ludacris Foundation provides a complete approach when it comes to community service by not only providing monetary support, appearances but also by donating time in the communities. Since 2001, The Ludacris Foundation has donated financial support to grassroots organizations that work to help youth, as well as invested 7,000 hours in devoted service to young people across the nation. The many programs in support of the Foundation have impacted over 7000 lives.
I remember back in the day when Chris Bridges was on Hot 107.9 rapping for the promos and djing in the evening. It is great to see his career actually unfold and develop, and at the same time he hasn't forgotten his community along the way. He definitely needs to be recognized for his diligent work with youth and the community, especially when so many celebs are starting foundations as tax shelters and not really doing much work.
With all the hard work that the foundation has been doing, it is unfortunate that last night's event didn't live up to the price tag. As a special event consultant, I always walk in looking at events to see what ideas and lessons I can walk away with. The lesson here was Roberta Sheilds, President of the Foundation and Luda's mom, needs to fire their event planner. The theme for the evening was Karma (for the literal translation and being Luda's daughters name). However the theme which should have been carried throughout the event was left merely at the hostess in robes that were supposed to be kimonos and an Asian musician playing a guitarlike instrument as people moved from the reception to the dinner. The silent auction lots were still being displayed as we milled around the reception surrounded with black drape. The food was not Asian inspired... and undercooked. The comedy of Bruce Bruce was long, boring, and unoriginal. The two no name acts were... well lets just say I see why they are no names. Bobby Valentino was a disappointment as well. He came out and apologized for his recent single not being appropriate, and instead did a Babyface cover. Hard to believe that he doesn't have one song on his new album that wasn't about sex, drugs, or some other nonsense. (Did I mention he is short as HELL... 5'5" at most). And the choice of the Apparel Mart as a venue was not quite well thought out.
The Foundation honored Bishop Eddie Long, Radio One maven Cathy Hughes (so underwhelming to be so wealthy) , and Hip Hop Icon and Mogul Russell Simmons for their work in the community and success in their industry. Not only were those three in attendance but Star Jones and Al "How You Doin" Reynolds; Alonzo and Tracey Mourning; CeeLo or Gnarles Barkley or whomever he is this month; Kevin Lyles (very personable... I like him) ; Ben Chavis; Chingy and several others that I just can't think of right now.
Overall the event was to raise money for the foundation and to uplift people that are doing good work so for that I enjoyed it... but please fire your event manager because they did a disservice to all the good work your organization is doing.