Fenty Party Wrap-Up: Wyclef! Usher! Joel Klein!
So Young Jeezy didn't make it.
Word on the street was that the hiphopper, for whatever reason, didn't get on his bus from Atlanta until 1 p.m. last night. Seeing as it takes a good 10 hours to make the drive, he wasn't getting to the 9:30 Club in time for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's eveningtime inaugural party.
But look who did make it.
The super-duper surprise guest was none other than Wyclef Jean, partymaster extraordinaire, who whipped up the crowd with a selection of mostly Fugees classics and top-notch stage antics. "You guys aren't crazy enough for the mayor," he said early on. That was after he brought the politics in a big way: "Tell me one thing George Bush did that was good!" he cried. "This is my message for George Bush....Get the hell out of the White House!"
The story behind Wyclef's appearance, LL hears, is astonishingly simple: Fenty met the man Saturday night at the "Green Ball" and asked him if he'd like to appear at the mayoral event. He agreed.
He followed rapper T.I., who laid down a perfect set shortly before 8 p.m. Perfect, in that he did every T.I. song you'd want to hear—"Swing Ya Rag," "Live Your Life," "Whatever You Like"—and got off the stage to let Wyclef do his thing. Before headliners Fall Out Boy hit the stage to do big hits like "Thnks fr th Mmrs," R&B maven Usher hit the stage for some brief words before retiring to Ben's Chili Bowl.
Who was there to enjoy it? More than 1,000 of the mayor's closest friends. (Not the 15,000 MTV reported this morning.) The gig, billed as a fundraiser for the D.C. Public Education Fund, was invite only—the funds were raised through corporate sponsorships; outfits including Comcast, Pepco, Office Movers, Ciroc Vodka, and the Forge Cos., among others, ponied up for the show—complete with open bar! (Full disclosure: LL partook of two scotch-and-sodas he tipped well.) Most of the folks LL spoke to and recognized were city employees—especially downstairs, outside of the VIP area that LL snuck into and got kicked out of three times.
Virtually the entire Fenty brain trust was in attendance—deputy mayors Victor Reinoso and Neil Albert, City Administrator Dan Tangherlini, Attorney General Peter Nickles, Chief of Staff Carrie Kohns, and political aides John Falcicchio and Tom Lindenfeld. That's not to mention various department heads—fire chief Dennis Rubin, environment honcho George Hawkins, and, of course, schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, who, in a slinky black dress, kicked things off with a bit of a downer—reminding everyone just how bad the D.C. Public Schools are before explaining how their donations would help. (In fairness, LL hears the original plan wasn't to have the chance handle emcee duties; organizers had been in talks with D.C. native Dave Chappelle to handle that task.)
Rounding out the public-official cohort were councilmembers Muriel Bowser, Kwame Brown, Jim Graham, and Jack Evans ("This is my kind of music!")—and one from out of town: New York City schools chancellor Joel I. Klein.
LL introduced himself to Klein and asked him what brought him out to the show: "My pal Michelle Rhee," he said. LL then asked whether he was a big Fall Out Boy fan. "I like String Cheese Incident!" he said—not on the schedule, sadly. (Klein, notably, has namechecked that particular outfit before.)
The other out-of-towner in the house was Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, the former NBA point guard, who was seen (not by LL, but by two crackerjack sources) holding hands with Rhee as they ascended into the upstairs "VIP" space—seemingly confirming rumors of a romantic relationship. (Reliable Source, who first reported the Rhee-KJ whispers, also saw them manually coupled at The Root ball later that night.)
Throughout the night, Fenty got props from onstage—no props madder than those from Fall Out Boy. Guitarist Patrick Stump said, "Want to give a big shout out to Mayor Fenty...We're big fans of him. We hope the rest of Washington, D.C., is." Later, bassist Pete Wentz said, before mentioning his infant son Bronx Mowgli Wentz (thankfully not by name), "I definitely have to give it up to the D.C. Public Education Fund. I definitely believe in education!"