It was an old-school party at will.i.am’s annual pre-GRAMMY charity concert as veteran rap stars like Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh rocked a capacity crowd along with the likes of Bell Biv DeVoe, Chaka Khan and Sergio Mendes.
The “Trans4m” event on Thursday raised more than $2.4 million for the rapper-producer’s i.am.angel Foundation, according to event organizers. The group provides educational support for students in the underprivileged section of East Los Angeles, where will.i.am grew up.
As he waited backstage to introduce various performers, will.i.am said the event, which has become a GRAMMY-week staple, attracts other stars because they want to support the cause.
“People are coming to the GRAMMYs just to celebrate, and when you put purpose in the room, people inherently, they want to do good,” he said. “I think that’s the reason why we’ve been able to keep this going.”
Previous performers at his charity concerts have included his own Black Eyed Peas, James Brown, Jackson Browne, Bobby Brown, Alicia Keys and Boyz II Men. This year, Scarface, Busta Rhymes and Chaka Khan were among those who had the Avalon bumping until the early-morning hours.
Will.i.am said last year, his foundation sponsored hackathons, taught students how to code and sent other students to China.
“Their GPA (grade point average) is through the roof, their attendance is through the roof, we’re at a 90 percent graduation rate and the program is going to support them through college,” he said.