On Top of the World

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Published April 6, 2009

Top Shop finally hit SoHo last week with the opening of their American launch pad on Broadway and Broome directly across the street from my label, Downtown Records. I’ve been looking forward to the opening since the Fall; I always pick up something from the shop when I’m ain London, and even though the Pound is cheap right now, it’s nice not to have to deal with the exchange rate. Since producers Switch and the Crookers had the Downtown studios on lock—Switch is helping the Crokers finish their debut album—I took a break from recording, fixed up, look sharp, and take part in all of the festivities. (LEFT: TOP MAN DESIGN DIRECTOR GORDON RICHARDSON AND NAEEM/SPANK ROCK. ALL PHOTOS: SPANK ROCK)

FOIE GWAR!On Tuesday Balthazar hosted the Topshop dinner and Mark Ronson curated a night of music that featured the Dap Kings, Santigold, Daniel Merriweather, me, and a surprise performance by Jimmy Fallon. I was even surprised. Santigold did “Shove It,” and I think here she meant food in mouth.

Mark Ronson and Jimmy Fallon, Daniel Merriweather and Santigold

 

I’m still new as a blogger and my attempts to interview Ronson and Fallon about what we might expect from the night fell flat. Ronson, unimpressed by my powers of interview, quipped, “OK! This interview is over.” Fallon taunted, “you should work at NOT Interview … then you would be fantastic!” I’m not sure what the gripe is, but maybe Jimmy needs better writers in real life, like on the Late Show. However, I must admit he performed a cover of The Police’s “Englishman in New York,” so brilliant it left the crowd almost as excited as my cover of James Brown’s “Super Bad.” Really, he was good: The crowd applauded from the first note. It was better than Cameron Diaz could do. And it wasn’t on the stage—because of the size of the restaurant we all performed on the floor in front of the dining area.

Michelle Trachtenberg, Annabelle Dexter-Jones

 

The night was filled with many hot actors models and musicians, but best in showgoes to Annabelle Dexter-Jones, and Michelle Trachtenberg. They were the most exciting girls in the room.

 

SIR PHILLIP GREEN AND DAUGHTER CHLOE; THEODORA RICHARDS

 

TOPBOX

ON FRIDAY OR SAT Sir Phillip Green threw a party fit for a fashion event, at The Box, the weird cabaret bar on Chrystie Street. I say it was fit because everyone kept their clothes on, and not very much happened. Adelle has a beautiful voice, but she’s no replacement for Amy Winehouse. Inspired by Pink Floyd, I imagined a brick wall between the audience and the performers on stage, and started to make some new friends!

Vice Records’ Christopher and JC; Penn Badgley, Spank Rock, Blake Lively

BFF’s!!!OK, so we’re not really best friends, but it looks like “Lonely Boy” Dan Humpfrey is actually more of a Soul Man. Between acts I got a chance to catch up with Gossip Girl star Penn Badgley. The Baltimore native told me that his first love was playing the piano and singing. I don’t know if I can handle watching Humpfrey croon, but just so you all can understand  how exquisite his musical taste is, here are some excerpts from two recent emails I received from him:

Naeem—

Shit, I was so surprised you knew who I was. I’m still always a little surprised if anyone other than a 20-year-old girl recognizes me.

My favorite musicians:1. D’Angelo and the whole Soulquarians collective of that time, 1997–2001. I’m pretty sure Anthony Hamilton was singing in D’s live band, the Soultronics. Erykah Badu, the Roots (other than Things Fall Apart, I’d rather see them live than listen to an album, as much as I love them all as musicians).

2. Also, a couple of musicians who played with D’Angleo in the studio & live who I’ve since explored and found as completely separate entities: Pino Palladino, Roy Hargrove, Charlie Hunter (that 8-string guitarist I was telling you about, gotta see him live to believe it).

3. I loved all the soulful hip hop going on then, with Mos, Talib Kweli & Hi-tek, Common. Really, 1999 and 2000 were it as far as I’m concerned. You had Train of Thought, Like Water for Chocolate, Black on Both Sides, Mama’s Gun, and The big bad Voodoo. I was absorbing those albums all throughout my teenage years, and I’m still finding things in them.

4. Owusu & Hannibal! One of my favorites, perfect example of where Soul/R&B can go, where it should be taken. Not all this Akon shit. If you’re going to use computers in soul music these guys know how to do it. The album is “Living With…”

5. Andrew Bird! This guy blew me away at Carnegie Hall, just this February. You must put this in there, he’s doing something amazing. When he plays solo and loops his own violin playing, it is intriguing, intense, emotional and beautiful and tense and sexy and I could watch it for hours. I think he needs to capture more of that energy in his records, because he’s doing himself an injustice… and his records are already great.

6. I love Prince, but that’s probably not a surprise.

7. You really do have to include Electric Ladyland. Hendrix is like the Beatles in the sense that a lot of his music, if you gave it to some neo-hipsters with a shiny new Brooklyn-indie package, people would be flipping out like they’d never heard it before.

8. Jamie Lidell’s great. Sorta retro-soul pop. Great live show. love Lykke Li right now, she is right up my alley.

9. I’m finally warming up to Animal Collective, I really like their vocal harmonies & layering.

10. Oh, Bjork. “Medulla” just kills me. I got the half-speed vinyl remaster. Wow.

There’s so much! If you put all this in a blog it would put people to sleep. You have my blessing to put any & all of it in there, though, this email included. I’m headed to Thailand tomorrow, but if I think of anything else between now and then I’ll send it your way…