It looked like a Hype Williams' video set.
"Some of y'all ain't put on a suit since [my] last court date. So I really do appreciate you going through the trouble."
With those words of thanks, T.I. kicked off his red carpeted, black-tie birthday celebration at Atlanta's Biltmore Saturday night. It doubled as an album release party for Paper Trail perhaps the year's most anticipated album second to Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III. The invite-only guest list overflowed with Atlanta's industry elite all of whom put their own unique spin on the required black-tie wardrobe.
Kenny Burns sported a shimmery gold Dolce & Gabbana blazer. "Project Runway" finalist Mychael Knight posed with a client wearing his own custom designed dress. Former "America's Top Model" contestant Toccara showed up in jeans and a black wifebeater.
Models dressed in Victorian-era dresses and lingerie, complete with powdered wigs and lace thigh-highs, posed high above the fray while a five-piece string section performed orchestral arrangements of T.I.'s hits.
Meanwhile, entertainment/gossip bloggers such as Gyant of SOHH.com and Necole Bitchie worked both sides of the red carpet while mingling with those typically on the receiving end of their keyboard quips.
Like an eco-system of artists, label execs, media hustlers and hungry hangers-on, Atlanta's hip-hop glitterati worked the room, and each other. All hailed the return of the king, T.I., and a return to normalcy in all its ostentatious glory.
It mattered not that the sound system failed to overwhelm the Biltmore's bad acoustics. Even T.I.'s acceptance speech was mostly drowned out by revelers whom he had to clear off the stage before he spoke.
"This is a celebration," he proclaimed into the mic. "We gonna start the music again. I want everybody to put the cameras away, y'all done took enough pictures to fill up a whole photo book. Y'all took enough pictures. Unless y'all working with "Entertainment Tonight" or "Access Hollywood" I'm telling you please put the cameras away."
I'm pretty sure he was 19.
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