L.A. Reid doesn’t “open up to people.” He squarely tells you in his new memoir, Sing To Me. So why then did the poker-faced Epic Records chief write the whole 390-page book? Turns out, as he half-joked last Monday night, with Chris Rock and Mr. Rock’s ladyfriend in the second row….His wife’s book publisher had sat him down and made him an offer he couldn’t refuse! Ha! He’s a composed but funny storyteller, and tells it better. But, of course, he wanted the joy of sharing his fascinating off-the-record this-was-the-real-deal stories.
Old-school candor. Monday night, Mr. Reid answered writer and event curator Omar Dubois’ questions with frankness in a still-dignified manner. The respectable navy suit the image-keeper; the pocket square and dress shoes, responsible elves. He left his shirt a bit open though. Appropriately so; not down to his heart. He’s a 59-year-old industry professional, after all. An accomplished executive, songwriter and producer, he makes and remakes careers. Powerful and revered—a video featuring JLo, TLC, Mariah Carey and other megastars, eagerly chatting about his virtues, played before the sit-down.
Everyone, even if sincere, knew their lines. However, as Vogue.com’s Chioma Nnadi explained, “Dubois ‘is never afraid to ask the hard questions; but is always a gentleman about it.'” And he asked away in his charmingly loquacious and inquisitive way. British accent to boot! Mr. Reid responded with bright-eyed smiles and sincere laughs; his body relaxed even as Mr. Dubois leaned in. He liked the X-factor of this Omar in cherry Paul Smith boots and a black Topman hat. He opened up but told what he wanted to tell, how he wanted to tell it, including when asked if he has been through any hardships. (Of course he has. We all have.) He reveals far more in his memoir. It’s a highly interesting read about a drum-loving boy who travels from humble Cincinnati, on an epic journey, to making music for the world.
So what is Mr. Reid looking for in the next big thing? What was it about 14-year-old Usher who sang to him? “He set the bar.” Why’d he hire Jay-Z as head of Def Jam back in ‘04? “Because he’s responsible.” And the best in the rap game. In that unexpected order.
“He’s a genius and has always been ahead of his time,” said supermodel Tyson Beckford, at the cocktail party. Beckford was fresh out of NYFWM’s opening party. He was in head-to-toe Dockers and Original S.W.A.T. boots. Fine with being low-key, but captivating as ever, he continues to make unexpected combinations sing like Mr. Reid’s original culture-changers. Dubois later said of Reid, “He’s highly perceptive, resourceful and kinetic. He makes things happen. He infuses philosophy with action.” The diplomatic and wise Mr. Reid also has impressively high EQ—as a high-profile music icon, he intuitively knows that how he speaks to complicated and sensitive artists matters a great deal.
Philippe Hoerle-Guggenheim was also in attendance with Adam Dell and Camilla Olsson. The director of Hoerle-Guggenheim Gallery in Chelsea has shown work by bonafide star RETNA and rising star Massimo Agostinelli, artists with that X-factor he instinctively recognizes. Alpha-male confident but polite, he wore a black leather jacket and scarf by Helmut Lang over a YSL shirt. Guests lingered on couches with Martell cocktails as Hoerle-Guggenheim made his way to say a warm hello to fellow alpha, Beckford.
Lesson of the night: It takes one to know one.