Coolio, Cool J, and Dee Ray

I saw an ad for a CD-release party for LL Cool J. It’s funny because when bands invite me to CD-release parties, they aren’t really parties. It’s usually the band playing a small venue for a few friends and family members, with a table set up to sell their CDs.

What was odd about this one was that LL Cool J was charging $30 to attend. It didn’t say this was a concert at Harrah’s Rincon. In fact, as my friend who wanted to go with me pointed out, “It doesn’t even say he’s going to be there.”

I didn’t think they’d charge $30 just to hang out on their poolside patio. And I certainly wasn’t going to pay $30 for a rapper who has only three songs I like. But a female friend of mine is a fan, so I thought I’d bring her with me to crash.

When you crash an event, especially at a nightclub, having a woman with you makes it easier.

I walked into the casino and was told that cameras weren’t allowed. I put it back in my car, but I put my small flip video camera down my pants. I felt as if I was smuggling contraband to a prisoner.

I went in a side door where nobody stopped me. I saw that security was tight at the main entrance, but they weren’t frisking anyone.

We got there before the crowd. My date said, “Oh, my God, there’s Coolio!” I looked over and saw a guy with freaky hair that reminded me of Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons. She was right, though, as his jacket had “Coolio” spelled out in rhinestones.

“Is he the one that sings ‘Thong Song’?” I asked her. She laughed and said, “No, white boy. He sings ‘Gangsta’s Paradise.’”

The poolside area filled up fast. I listened as a Latina joined her friends, who mentioned seeing Coolio. The Latina screamed, “Oh, my God! Why didn’t you stop him?” One said, “Uh, and do what with him?” The response: “I don’t know, had him wait until I got here.” One of them then joked, “The dude had his name written on his jacket. It was weird.”

“Well, maybe he thinks people forgot who he was.”

I said to my date, “Rappers not only say their name in their songs but also put it on their clothes.”

With the crowd acting like that for Coolio, I figured the place would go insane if LL Cool J showed up.

Radio station Blazin’ 98.9 was there, and a DJ was spinning near the pool, often mixing in LL songs.

I overheard two guys who were smoking cigars. One said that LL also has a new line of clothing. The other said, “It’s weird that he’s so popular. He stole his style. But after all these decades, from the ‘80s until now, he’s still popular and relevant in the rap scene.”

There were go-go dancers on platforms all around the pool. At one end of the pool, there were dancers behind a backlit screen that showed their silhouettes.

One of the cabanas had a “reserved” sign posted and a few people partying inside.

We dropped $20 on drinks and found a seat by the fire pit. When that got crowded, we moved to a pair of comfortable poolside chairs.

One couple was swimming, and a security guard called the guy over to the side of the pool. My friend said, “I knew he wasn’t allowed to be in there.” The guard asked him to put some floating lights in various areas of the pool.

Security there was nice to everyone.

The event was scheduled from 10:30 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. Around midnight, we were ready to bounce, but we heard rumors that LL was “in the house.” When we walked by the front, we saw him in the weight room. That was funny, since he’s already the most muscular rapper around. He wasn’t working out, though, just hanging out.

When he walked out, about 100 women mobbed him. They were screaming as if he were Elvis. He had shades on and was stopping to take photos on his way to the pool. My date brought an album, which he signed for her.

Several fans had cameras in their cell phones, which they now had out and were using. Security, again, was very polite with everyone. They kept ushering LL to his area outside but were never pushy with his fans. It was a pleasant vibe.

As we were leaving, a guy in a yellow Lamborghini pulled up. My date said, “He’s a short white guy. I doubt he’s here for the Cool J event.”

The evening reminded us of a CD-release party we went to together for a local band called Dee Ray. I realized I hadn’t written about that one, so when I got home, I looked for my notes.

The Dee Ray party was at a mansion in the College Area. Ian, the woman who throws parties in her “house of the future,” calls herself the “party queen of San Diego.” This was the second all-out bash I’d been to at her place, so who was I to disagree?

Dee Ray was playing when we walked in. The song had the same chords as “Born to Be Wild.” When they played a second set, I thought the group sounded a lot like the Pretenders and Patti Smith, with Doors-style keyboards thrown in. The singer looked a bit like Suzi Quatro (Leather Tuscadero from Happy Days).

I went to the back patio, which was surrounded by eucalyptus trees. I overheard a guy say to his date, “These trees are all bleeding. I think the koala bears on them have VD.”

I ran into Bart Mendoza, a local musician and writer who seems to be at all local events with musicians. We talked for a while.

A woman named Lyz was pouring herself a drink, but I thought she was the bartender. She told me that she wasn’t but poured me a drink anyway. As we were talking, she said, “Oh, you’re that party crasher guy, aren’t you?”

I told her that if she did something crazy, I’d write about her. She never did, but I guess pouring me a drink will suffice.

When the band finished their set, I overheard them talking to a few people. The band members, all roommates, had also all worked at Licorice Pizza, an old record store. Their conversation led to me and a guy nearby talking about the ‘60s band Love, members of which lived in Bela Lugosi’s old mansion in the Hollywood Hills.

I walked to a different section of the backyard and discovered a tree house where people were smoking pot.

I heard a couple arguing because the guy was moving to Oceanside. “If you want me to see you,” the girl said, “be prepared to give me gas money.”

I glanced in one room and saw that they had a TV set with flames flickering on the screen. It looked like a fireplace.

There was a real fireplace in the center of the living room, which a few people were lounging around.

I went outside to smoke a cigar, and a woman named Molly tripped over a board on the patio and fell into me. She laughed it off, and someone said, “Everyone trips over that.” Molly told me that she’s a local musician. I told her that she was the third Molly I’d met who’s a musician. As she was explaining what type of music she plays, someone else tripped over the same board.

I said, “If Ian doesn’t get that fixed, she’s going to be sued. And someone else will end up owning this incredible house.”

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