Last night at New York’s Terminal 5, the five-city Grammy Celebration tour wound up with an old-school, hit-filled set from headliner LL Cool J (more on that later) and support from Brit R&B star Estelle. The latter told EW backstage that fans may not have to wait much longer for a follow-up to her 2008 breakthrough, Shine. “I’m working on my new album right now,” she said, “I’m about five songs into it. It should be out this fall, in October or November.”
Her sunny ’08 single “American Boy” was one of the sweetest success stories of last year; the catchy Kanye West collaboration cracked the Billboard top 10 and nabbed a Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. Estelle says West is one of her “favorite artists” and expects to work with him again.
Shine featured an eclectic group of guests, ranging from will.i.am and Cee-Lo to Mark Ronson and John Legend, and Estelle promises another grab-bag of famous names this time around, too: “I’m working with Swizz Beats, Kid Sister — her new album drops soon, look out for that! — and Dave Sitek, of TV on the Radio.” (The guitarist and producer has worked with everyone from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to Scarlett Johansson). Click through for a breakdown of her and LL’s eclectic Grammy tour sets.
Estelle’s fairly brief set last night was briskand fluid, complete with a drum kit, twoguitarists, and two Kanye-lookalike backup singers. Estelle fans whohave never seen her live, take heed: The lady has a foul mouth. Plentyof expletives were dropped in her between-song banter, but just before “Shine,” she talked honestly about the current recession and being brokewhen she got her record deal, and reassured the audience “we’ll get around it, because as people we Shine.” Amen, lady!Nearly every song in the rest of her set, including “No Substitute Love” and “Come Over,” got a fairly lengthy introduction: Long story short,Estelle has no qualms sharing her relationship, uh, issues. “I don’t hate all men, just the ones I’ve dated.” Burn!
Long-running rapper LL Cool J (incidentally also the future star of NCIS: Los Angeles) followed, and didn’t disappoint his nostalgic fans: With over 20 years of songs to pick from (yes, 20!), LL ended up doing a medley of his greatest hits, from “Doin’ It” and “Mama Said Knock You Out” to latter-day jams like “All I Have” (sans J.Lo) and “Paradise” (sans Amerie).
He also lived up to his “Ladies Love Cool James” name: Each song was like a mini rose ceremony, with LL handpicking ladies to hand blossoms to, often while whispering sweet nothings into their ears. One baffling phenomenon? The sweat-towel souvenir. LL is a man’s man, and sweated profusely to prove it, so he had an army of white towels ready and waiting to soak up his manly perspiration, which he’d then promptly toss out into the audience. Naturally, games of tug-of-war ensued. Let’s be serious: That’s just nasty. But the ladies certainly didn’t seem to mind. They do, after all, love him.
Was anyone else at Terminal 5 last night? And who’s excited for Estelle’s next record? Topping “American Boy” will be a tall order, though: Watch her Grammy performance with West below.
More from EW’s Music Mix:
Dr. Dre teases ‘Detox’ track in Dr. Pepper ad: Watch it here
Video for The-Dream and Kanye West’s ‘Walking on the Moon’ drops: This absolutely needs to be a huge hit
Beyonce’s new video for ‘Ego’ — ‘Single Ladies’ part deux?