R&B and hip-hop’s finest turned out in droves to support a good cause last night (April 9) at LIFEbeat’s UrbanAID 2 benefit. Held at New York’s Beacon Theatre, the benefit concert featured performances from the Roots, Musiq, Alicia Keys, Fat Joe, Ashanti, Ja Rule, P. Diddy & Family, and Jay-Z. The event was taped for future broadcast on BET.
Hosted by comedian/actor Mike Epps (“Next Friday,” “All About the Benjamins”), the show got off to a rocking start with the Roots. The Philadelphia-based hip-hop outfit was joined on stage by fellow Philadelphian Musiq for a medley of the former’s “The Next Movement” and the latter’s “L Is Gone.”
Other guest appearances included Murder Inc. affiliates Vita, Charli “Chuck” Baltimore, and Caddilac Tah, who joined Ja Rule for his hit-packed set. Ashanti, whose self-titled Murder Inc./Def Jam debut album is expected to bow at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 this week, joined Rule to close his set with the chart-topping “Always on Time.”
P. Diddy, one of the event’s co-chairs, also brought some famous friends along, including Mr. Cheeks, Mark Curry, G. Dep, Keith Murray, Craig Mack, and Loon. Diddy even took time to toast the audience, teaming with Busta Rhymes on “Pass the Courvoisier Part II.”
Jay-Z and the Roc-A-Fella family wrapped up the show, dropping such classics as “Big Pimpin'” and “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It to Me).” Roc members Memphis Bleek, Beanie Sigel, Camron, and Freeway also got in on the act. Camron and his partner Juelz Santana performed “Oh Boy,” while Sigel and Freeway tag-teamed on the club smash “Roc the Mic.”
In addition to the music, LIFEbeat brought a message with PSAs featuring the show’s performers as well as former president Bill Clinton, event co-chair Russell Simmons and his wife Kimora Lee-Simmons, MCA recording artist Talib Kweli, AJ and Free of BET’s “106 & Park,” and Harvard professor Dr. Cornel West. LIFEbeat also honored longtime supporters Maria Davis and actress Rosie Perez with the Spirit and Pioneer Awards, respectively.
LIFEbeat is a national non-profit organization dedicated to reaching America’s youth with the message of HIV/AIDS prevention. It aims to mobilize the talents and resources of the music industry to raise awareness and to provide support to the AIDS community.