A condensed version of this recap feature was published on REVOLT.TV here.
Much like the co-host of the 2017 REVOLT Music Conference annual gala, Quincy, worded it best, we truly can “describe Queen Latifah in so many different ways.”
While adjectives such as fearless, talented, kind-hearted, courageous, admirable, hilarious and strong all ring true when it comes to attempting to wholly describe the essence that makes up the dynamic New Jersey native, REVOLT chose to highlight one that simply cannot be disputed and just might sum it up best: iconic.
Honoring Queen Latifah as this year’s recipient of the Jimmy Iovine Icon Award helped add to the weekend’s magic, with the luminary being celebrated during a distinguished and dazzling award ceremony, made possible by Cadillac.
After attendees of the fourth-annual conference spent the weekend posted up at the Eden Roc resort in Miami Beach to network among like-minds, soak up wisdom from the music and entertainment industry’s most innovative and successful executives during interactive panels and catch a slew of live performances poolside, Saturday evening (Oct. 14) played host to a special celebration to honor the Queen and her many achievements in business, music, film and philanthropy.
Following a VIP cocktail hour, one of the ballrooms inside the luxury resort was happily filled to the brim, with guests taking advantage of the opportunity to get gussied up and gather around lavishly set dining tables to eat, drink, be merry and most importantly, raise a glass to the trailblazer.
In addition to those being inspired by Queen Latifah over the years finding their place in the room, the exclusive guestlist also incorporated those fortunate enough to have worked with or befriended Queen Latifah over the years, including Monica, Fab 5 Freddy, Shakim Compere, and of course, REVOLT’s own Chairman, Sean “Diddy” Combs and Vice Chairman, Andre Harrell. T.I., Eva Marcille, Cassie, Justine Skye, David Banner, Mysonne, Lauren London, Bre-Z, Mack Wilds, King Combs, Joey Bada$$, Fat Boy SSE and other celebrated artists, entrepreneurs and industry leaders were also proudly in the building, with Ryan Destiny and Quincy taking on hosting duties.
“The REVOLT Jimmy Iovine Icon Award was started by Sean Combs, our Chairman and Mr. Andre Harrell to recognize excellence and honor excellence in the world of music and culture,” Roma Khanna opened the evening’s festivities. “Because when one of us rises, all of us rise. Tonight's honoree is the spectacular, amazing and iconic Queen Latifah. With her amazing body of work, we could've called it a lifetime achievement award but we chose not to, because I suspect she's just getting started. So let's share some stories, share some love and celebrate the true icon.”
Throughout the award ceremony, which is set to air on ****, those dear to the Queen’s heart who couldn’t be present, such as Lee Daniels, Big Boi, Toni Braxton, MC Lyte, Q-Tip, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Common, each showed their love and respect to Latifah in the form of pre-recorded messages, adding to the charm of the momentous occasion.
“It's one thing to know Queen Latifah. But it is something very different to know Dana or La,” Monica stated, while addressing her mentor and friend from the stage. “They're two different people but they accomplish a whole lot together. I think that the thing that keeps her connected to everybody is the fact that what you hear her say, she believes.”
After Monica finished sharing several personal anecdotes, the evening continued, with Daniel Caesar taking to the stage to perform “We Find Love” and “Best Part” off his 2017 debut album, Freudian.
Such an impassioned celebration would not have been complete without Fab 5 Freddy grabbing the mic, with the hip-hop pioneer happily throwing it back to Queen Latifah’s earliest days as a rapper. After waxing nostalgic and explaining how fate would have it so that he got his hands on a demo tape that featured Latifah’s rhymes, Fab 5 Freddy explained how that chance occurrence led to greatness, and more specifically the then-aspiring rapper getting signed, making a name for herself in the male-dominated genre and taking a stand through their collaborative music videos, such as with “Ladies First.”
“I'm so proud of [“Ladies First”] to this day but what I'm even more proud of is the amazing things Latifah has done from then until now,” Fab 5 Freddy exclaimed. “It's just been astonishing.”
SZA was also among the evening’s performers, taking a moment in between songs to unapologetically fangirl over Queen Latifah and explain how much the visionary has “saved her life over and over and over again.”
“I can't front and say that I wouldn't be any more honored to be in front of these people right here,” SZA said, bursting with excitement. “I’m from f—king Jersey so you mean more to me than you could ever know. You have no idea.”
As her stunning voice filled the grand hall, performing tracks off her debut album, Ctrl, including “Love Galore,” “Garden (Say It Like Dat)” and “The Weekend,” even Sean “Diddy” Combs couldn’t help but later point out that Queen Latifah inspiring the next generation of performers is exactly what Black excellence embodies.
During the celebration, Andre Harrell and Sean “Diddy” Combs both blessed the mic, with Harrell having a rare emotional moment on stage,
“I’ve had the privilege of knowing Queen Latifah for over twenty years,” Harrell shared. “And though we obviously share a love of hip-hop and I'm a fan of music, what continues to impress me the most about her is just the scope of the versatility of her talent. Nobody has been able to move organically through hip-hop, jazz, television, film, talk, production like Queen Latifah… The most beautiful thing about Latifah is no matter how bright her star shines, she pulls it off with grace, style, and dignity and she never lets you forget it, she's just a girl from Newark.”
“When you think about Black excellence and what that looks like, when I think about it, I see an image of Queen Latifah,” Combs said, after thanking those in attendance for an incredible weekend. “She has encouraged us to dream big, to do what many thought was impossible and to do it in a royal swag type of way.”
Combs then shared a personal anecdote, showcasing how influential his friendship with Queen Latifah has been to both his career and overall perspective since first crossing paths over twenty years ago.
“I’ve seen her grow,” the Chairman continued. “I’ve seen her evolve, I've seen her do things that have blown my mind… Just watching her breath of work, watching the things she stands for, her consistency, her grace, her style, the way she always represents us. She is truly the definitely of Black excellence and we celebrate you tonight, Queen.”
Just when the audience thought that was a cue for a final round of applause Combs laughed, saying that he was far from finished.
“Oh no, no,” he shared, with his signature grin. “I got a lot of stuff to say about you. We celebrate ours, we take our time. I own the network so we don't have nobody saying anything. So let us take our time and celebrate you, Queen!”
“Queen Latifah is REVOLT,” Combs continued. “She spoke her mind in her music, unafraid to stand up to injustice and to tell it like it is. She recognized her power early on and used it for good, kicking down barriers and uplifting young people, especially young women. Did y'all see the look on SZA's face when she saw the Queen? That's the way you touch and embrace people.”
With the time soon arriving to present Queen Latifah with the prestigious award, she herself noted that she has never been honored in this way before, despite her many years of accomplishments.
“This is beautiful,” Latifah said, with gratitude present in her voice. “That is a perfect award, look at that. Wow. Thank you so much. This is incredible. I've never had anyone, I've never been honored in such a way, ever. This is bananas.”
After thanking the team at REVOLT for presenting her with the honorary award, Latifah thanked her partner, Shakim Compere, shouting out him and his family as they sat proudly in the audience.
“My parents taught me who I was and they raised me to be a queen,” she began, standing between her longtime friends, Harrell and Combs. “I don't want to take a lot of time, this has been a beautiful night. I hope you feel as positive about this weekend as I do. This is really a testament to this person standing right next to me. He stood next to him, I stand next to him, this is how we do it. We pass it on.”
In true form to Latifah’s humble nature, she promptly turned the focus on Combs, returning the love right back.
“There's nobody in this world like Puff,” Latifah shared.
“There's just not. His drive, his hustle. We've all been in awe of it all these years. Every time he accomplishes something new, it tells us that we can do it… Every time we do something, you should know that it's possible. Anything is possible. So don't ever put a padlock on your mind. Dream big. Whatever crazy idea you have, just believe you can make it happen. All you have to do is hook up with the right people and steer clear of the wrong people and believe you can make it happen.”
With a special tribute performance by the illustrious Lauryn Hill closing out the evening, performing a medley of timeless classics both from her catalog and Latifah’s alike, gratitude, the good kind of goosebumps and straight-up inspiration was ever-present in the air, reminding us that true icons, don’t just set a good example for others, but their energy can be felt from afar and from within.
Congrats to Queen Latifah again as she continues to Dare Greatly!