The pandemic had silenced live musical performances all over the USA and a plethora of hip-hop and R&B talents, eager to perform, turned up this year at some of the most decadent and memorable VIP events during Art Basel 2021.
BMW led the way and pulled out all stops on Nov. 29 to unveil their Concept BMW XM (a plug-in hybrid), by teaming up with the legendary recording artist Nas and New York-based artist Kennedy Yanko. Nas performed his classic hits in front of the much-anticipated Concept BMW XM, enclosed in a large glass container filled with misty fog, and was only revealed at the end of his performance. This event emerged as one of the highlights during Art Basel, hosting the likes of iconic music producer Timbaland (with whom I had a fun dialogue), among other high-profile guests.
On Nov. 30, the ultra-exclusive Louis Vuitton runway show (to kick off their new men’s wear store in Miami’s Design District) became a moving tribute to the late fashion designer and artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection, Virgil Abloh. Over 1,500 VIP guests, piled onto Louis Vuitton-branded speed boats, ferries, limousines, and SUVs, made their way to the Miami Marine Stadium at 5 pm to pay tribute to Abloh during the fashion show. The front row included Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, Pharrell Williams, Joe Jonas, and Ricky Martin, to name a few.
The after-party was decked out with a three-story statue of Mr. Abloh, wearing sunglasses and carrying a branded portfolio; a hot pink/hot air balloon displaying the iconic LV logo; a beautiful lounge area; and a massive stage with black and white checkered trimmings. We were fed, boozed, and entertained by a drone show, fireworks, and live performances by Erykah Badu and Kid Cudi, who rocked the LV house down late into the night. This was indeed a beautiful tribute and a wonderful celebration of the life of a legend.
And just when I thought that nothing could beat this experience, Alicia Keys’ live performance kicked off Art Basel officially on Dec.1 at Miami’s Superblue, an enterprise dedicated to supporting artists in realizing their most ambitious visions and engaging audiences with experiential art.
Alicia took Art Basel to the next level with a pre-show which included her guided meditation as we watched the “Meadow” installation come to life, a group of colorful mechanical flowers suspended from the ceiling, opening and closing as if going through a blooming cycle (created by Studio Drift).
I was privileged to stand right in front of the stage in an incredibly beautiful space with digital art displayed on all four walls as the 15-time Grammy-winner sang her classic hits and gave us a sneak peek of songs from her new album, which debuted on Dec. 10. It was truly a one-of-a-kind immersive art experience and by far my favorite.
Finally, in the midst of it all, at Casa Tua on Friday, Dec. 3, PlayBoy hosted “A Night of The Surreal,” a party to launch Big Bunny, Playboy’s first luxury lifestyle label. The event was certainly memorable because the art installation was a pair of stoic, nearly naked live “mannequins.” While their faces and top body parts were of flesh and bone, vanilla cake and skin-colored icing made up their lower limbs. One by one, the crowd started to sample the cake with their bare hands. But at last, I was in Miami and at a “surreal” Playboy event.
A shout out to the team at Purple PR for the invitation and Casa Tua’s Director of Operation, David Bocognano, for hosting me with grace because while in the VIP lounge upstairs with my Art Basel partners in crime, Ziv Marom, founder of ZM Interactive, Drone Cinematography (Matrix Resurrections, Expendables 3, Home Front, etc.), and Eric Rosete, President of Art Heart Fashion and designer of Mr. Triple X, we spent a good part of our night being next to mega rap star Cardi B’s table, who entertained us all with her lip sync-ing to “Up” and her dance moves to “Body” by Megan Thee Stallion, all the while enjoying Art Basel with her friends in this intimate setting. I would have to say, this was by far the most fun live musical performance during Art Basel in my books. Wink.