Feel the Rush!
A little after midnight Thursday, two security guards at the Vogue made their way to the back door and people in the crowd began to stare.
A few minutes later, the reason for the commotion came through the door. Indiana Pacers forward Ron Artest had arrived for his first local rap performance.
Decked out in all white, Artest took the stage for nearly 40 minutes, performing a number of raps he's written.
The 6-7 basketball star bounced around the stage, a white hat with his record label, TruWarier, emblazoned in black letters, tilted on his head.
Artest seemed as comfortable on stage as he is on the court defending an opponent's best player.
"Pacers won, yeah, yeah, yeah," he said as he grabbed the mike following his introduction to a crowd estimated at 500. "They say I can't play till next year, but I'll be back next year."
After that reference to his seasonlong suspension following a brawl in Detroit in November, Artest spent the rest of his time on stage going from one rap to the next, mixing in other singers and rappers at various points.
Around 2 a.m., in a good mood after his performance, he leaned against a railing with his arms wrapped around his wife, Kimsha, and discussed his first live performance in the city where he plays.
"It was good," he said. "During my songs, people were bouncing. I saw a couple people leaving at the start, but most people stayed and that was good."
Artest has been writing raps for five years. He has songs on three CDs. At the Vogue, Artest was the final act on a night of hip-hop that started with several DJs working turntables.
By the time Artest took the stage, the dance floor was nearly full. Members of his crew passed out CDs to the crowd.
Artest rapped with two others who go by the names Challace and Braska. DJ Paul B, who works Pacers home games at Conseco Fieldhouse, was on the turntables.
"It was cool. I liked it," Artest said. "It's a lot of fun. We were doing a lot of party music. No real performance. We were just having fun, trying to make a good song.
"I'm just starting to get better. It's still not where I want it to be, but my songs are getting better."
One of the songs Artest performed was "Henney," an ode to Hennessy cognac, which has an easy-to-remember chorus and had people bouncing on the dance floor.
Another performance had the look of a rap video. Several women dressed in skimpy bikinis, some with fishnet that left little to the imagination, wiggled around on stage.
Kimsha sported a white tank top that had Artest's number 91 airbrushed on the back and a pair of jeans with "Artest" on the backside. She danced on the side of the stage during another song.
Artest, who asked the post-concert discussion not focus on basketball, didn't say what he was paid for the performance. At least 50 percent of anything he makes from live shows goes to charity, he said.
Artest said he has already performed in Houston, Las Vegas, Atlanta, New York and Chicago.
His raps haven't had much commercial success, but that hasn't affected his love for music. He still spends time in the studio he had built next to his house on Indianapolis' Northside.
"I'm enjoying it," Artest said afterward. "When I get a chance, I'll do it as long as it doesn't affect my basketball, doesn't get in the way of my practice habits."