Backbeat: Annual Cash Money Party Brings Big Names, Big Plans and Blunt Smoke with Pre-Grammy Revelry
Alyson Aliano

“I’m supposed to be going to Ne-Yo’s party after this, but I actually have a session with Busta Rhymes later tonight,” admits young mega-producer Jahlil Beats (50 Cent, Rick Ross, Diddy). Busta may be, in fact, the hardest working man in show business today. “My Grammy week has all been in the studio, working with people like Wiz Khalifa and DJ Khaled to finish up the fine tweaks on my upcoming album,” Rhymes says.

Diplo, meanwhile, claims he’s been busy “writing acoustic records, working on cooking shows, and trying to buy an ‘underground owl’ and all kinds of rare animals for a zoo I’m building.”

LOCAL HOTSPOT

“Definitely Roscoe’s on Pico,” says 1500 or Nothin’’s Lamar “Mars” Edwards of L.A.’s famed chicken-and-waffles spot beloved by pro basketball players, African-American churchgoers, and platinum-plated b-boys alike. “When artists come to town during the Grammys, we try to get them to the ‘hood,” adds Dopson. “Roscoe’s is close to our studio, which is right by LAX. As soon as the artist gets off the airplane, they come right to us and start working.”

YEAR OF THE PRODUCER

“I think Diplo will get Producer of the Year -- I voted for him,” admits Bang The Drum’s Paul Adams. “Hopefully I’ll win, but I doubt it,” says the dapper superstar DJ/producer himself on the red carpet, flanked by his outré protégé, Riff Raff. Despite acclaim for helming recent smashes for the likes of Usher, No Doubt, Justin Bieber, and his own Major Lazer project, Diplo thinks Black Key Dan Auerbach’s got the lock: “People tend to vote for rock and roll. Besides, Mark Ronson told me you have to be nominated three times before you get it. It took him a while -- Danger Mouse got nominated four years in a row!”


Diplo (background, right) protégé Riff Raff

Regardless of who wins, industry experts agree that the producer role has taken on significant creative prominence in the pop/hip-hop game of late. “Producers are the stars now -- they’re creating ideas and opinions,” says Detail. “I was fortunate enough to have someone like Lil Wayne believe in me on songs like ‘How To Love.’ Once someone like Lil Wayne believes in you, it’s on us to run with it.”

EXPERT GRAMMY PREDICTIONS: WHO WILL -- AND SHOULD -- WIN

“I hope Diplo and M83 win tomorrow,” says Ron Perry. “I think fun. will have a big night as well.” “I think fun. is going to take it,” notes former "American Idol" contestant and current YMCMB artist Chris Richardson. “Making your own lane is what the Grammys look for, and they’ve got the drive to be individual and still make hits.”

Elsewhere, expect the Americana/new folk movement to assert its dominance in the pop zone. “I think the Grammys will prove a big success for The Lumineers,” states Songs Music A&R colleague Katy Wolaver. “‘Ho Hey’ was amazing this year; I’m also rooting for Ed Sheeran.” “I think Mumford are going to sweep the awards,” says Bang The Drum’s Adams. “Last year they got nothing because of Adele, and I think Academy voters feel a bit bad about that.”

“I’m rooting for my buddy and labelmate Drake, and Maroon 5 of course,” says PJ Morton, who’s been doing “double duty” as keyboardist for Maroon 5 and budding Young Money solo artist: Morton’s highly anticipated, largely self-produced debut album, New Orleans, drops May 14 with contributions from Busta, Stevie Wonder, and Adam Levine. “I just left Grammys rehearsal with Maroon 5 at the Staples Center for our mash-up of ‘Daylight’ with Alicia Keys. I started three years ago with the band, and worked on its last album as a member -- it’s been a great ride.”


Busta Rhymes

Meanwhile, the hip-hop nation thinks its time Nas finally got his due from Grammy voters. “I’m rooting for Rick Ross, but I also want to see Nas win,” says Jahlil Beats. “Nas’ album [Life Is Good] is great -- it’s a classic.” That sentiment is seconded by Busta Rhymes: “I’m checking for all whole YMCMB team players first and foremost [Drake and Lil Wayne received nominations], but I’m a big Nas fan -- I want to see him get it.” Many of those polled at the YMCMB party also registered hope that Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange triumph would be recognized by Grammy voters. “I hope Frank does well -- he’s helped the R&B genre, and music as a whole, to open people’s minds,” says Morton. “I’m rooting for Frank because he’s important to the industry,” says Jay Sean. “We went through a phase where music became so generic, but then he did something unique -- that’s just him.”

GRAMMY BUMMERS

“I was a little pissed when Nicki didn’t get nominated this year-- but then again, you know, it’s the Grammys,” admits Berkman. “We sold how many millions of singles, and she had one of the biggest songs of the year -- and she’s Nicki Minaj! Then again, little Justin Bieber didn’t get anything either.”

"SNL" SCUTTLEBUTT

When asked on the red carpet what he thought of fellow Canadian Justin Bieber’s immediately viral “Black History Month”-themed "Saturday Night Live" skit that aired during the YMCMB party, Drake responded, “I have haven’t seen it, but it sounds mad racist.” He was smiling when he said it, so we think he was kidding...


Drake

TRENDING INTERNATIONALLY

When YMCMB co-founder Ronald “Slim” Williams made his entrance on the red carpet at his own Grammy fiesta, he was accompanied by the label’s latest group -- Aziatix, a South Korean boy band that marks the label’s first ever “K-pop” signing. “We were courting Aziatix before Psy broke, but that certainly helped,” explains Berkman. According to him, Aziatix represents a new worldwide focus for YMCMB, pointing to recent signings like Australian house-music DJ team Stafford Brothers, and interest in even more Asian acts. “We’re reaching out more internationally now -- it’s a global thing,” Berkman says.