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    Celebrating the BET Awards with the Crème of the Crop


    Polow Freache Michael Bezjian/

    RSVPs:  Mary J. Blige, Robin Thicke, Brandy...
    When:  June 26
    Where:  Mr. Chow

    Okay, I must admit, I'm not really a hip-hop girl. I used to know just about every Tupac lyric back in high school and then I became obsessed with Jay-Z. But recently, my taste has veered in a different direction. Turns out, there might be a reason for that. "I think right now, hip-hop is [experiencing] what happened to rock in the '80s," music producer Polow-Freache Jones, aka Polow Da Don, tells me when he arrives at Mr. Chow in Beverly Hills. "It turned into a bunch of fluff." I'm not sure if Polow should be saying this, considering we're at Interscope Geffen A&M Records' "Crème of the Crop" Celebration. The carpet is backed up with new rappers from Slim Thug to Stat Quo, full of excitement and bling and eager to get the post-BET Awards party started.


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    Too Much Crunk?
    But Polow has a point. "The consumers and people in the industry are getting tired of things being repeated over and over," he says, affirming my boredom of hearing songs about pimps, cars and bitches. "I think people are just trying to find new ways to make music interesting again."

    Mary J. Blige Michael Bezjian/

    And he's done just that by producing "Runaway Love," Mary J. Blige and Ludacris' hit song that won Best Collaboration at the awards tonight. "That record was so different for hip-hop," Polow says of the compassionate single that tells the story of three troubled women. Maybe Mary will sing a verse for me when she arrives and I can go back to my hip-hop days!

    Nicole Scherzinger Ben Rose/

    Solo Act, Multiplicity of Tastes
    While Mary is en route, Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger takes the spotlight in a curve-hugging Alexander Mcqueen dress. "This is one of my first appearances walking alone to start talking about my solo album," Nicole purrs. "So I was going for something sophisticated but punk." She looks more dominatrix than punk, but that's probably only because the singer likes to delve into all types of fashion genres. "My style is all over the place, girl!" she tells me.

    Turns out Nicole craves just about every style of food, too. "What do I not love?" she exclaims. "I love Hawaiian food because I am Hawaiian. I love southern food because I am from Kentucky, too. I love my chicken and dumplings and my derby pie. I love chocolate and cheese and wine and..." Good thing she's sticking to a strict workout regimen while the Dolls are on break!
    Melody Thornton Ben Rose/

    Hardly in the Thicke of Things
    Best Male R&B nominee Robin Thicke bypasses the carpet and heads straight for the entrance. He's all smiles, but I'm guessing he wanted to skip questions because he didn't win. Whatever. I'm fine talking to the Dolls, like Melody Thornton, who's gushing about her bandmate's new solo CD. Melody is beyond adorable, the type of girl you want to have sleepovers with, staying up all night giving each other manicures and watching chick flicks. "Honey, I could not keep it in," Melody says about the Gerald Levert tribute from Patti LaBelle, Yolanda Adams and Gladys Knight. "I was crying like a baby, messing my makeup up." She still looks good to me and to just about everyone else, like rapper Young Buck, who is anxious to greet the sequined star.

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    Not Much o' Blige
    Mary J. Blige finally arrives, taking a few pictures before rushing inside. She's followed by Lil' Kim and then by Mr. Fire Marshal. Yes, Mr. Chow is at capacity. Nobody else is allowed inside. Brandy arrives with her brother, Ray J, and is forced to wait at the door. I cannot believe it. "We need 10 people out immediately!" an Interscope staffer yells to a publicist.

    Ray J, Brandy Michael Bezjian/

    While the poor event planner is struggling to kick people out, Ray J gets antsy. "Why is this taking so long?" he asks in a huff. "Be patient," his sis coos as she chews her gum and looks inside the windows. The sizzling red-carpet lights go out and the temperature drops about five degrees. "I'm cold," Brandy says. "Let's go wait in the car." As the siblings leave, 10 people exit and I'm allowed in. Talk about good timing.

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    Empty Plates, Flowing Glasses
    Dinner is finished by the time I get inside. Mary is sipping champagne next to Lil' Kim, who then stands to greet the gorgeous Eve. Songstress Keri Hilson sips on water, telling me she's keeping it "nice and sober" tonight considering she has to be up early in the a.m. for a Rich Boy video. The Dolls are showing off their dance skills while music execs watch from above. And everyone is packed like sardines. No wonder the fire marshal had a problem.

    Eve, Lil' Kim Ben Rose/

    I squeeze through the throngs and see Ray J at the bar. Guess he was able to pull some strings. Unfortunately, people are already starting to leave for the after-party. I follow Macy Gray back outside, shocked at her attire. Her pairing of a long-sleeve shirt and a Velvet Revolver tee is totally out of place amid the sequins and bling. She hops in a waiting Hummer and leaves me in the wake of her paparazzi flashes. I consider heading to the official BET after-party at the Roosevelt, but after a night of lingering outside I can wait until next year. Like Polow told me, hip-hop will soon be making a comeback, so the parties will only get better with time.

    Mary J. Blige, Robin Thicke Ben Rose/