As the festivities from the bitterly cold 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago brought nearly the whole Midwest and beyond to the city, Courvoisier Cognac left everyone with a glowing warmth as strong and hearty as the liquor itself this past Saturday, Feb. 15 at the Morgan MFG. The esteemed brand opened the gates to its Maison Courvoisier Experience with Pusha T, featuring the artwork and fashion of Rhuigi Villasenor and Al-Baseer Holly, with surprise sets from Gunna and Tory Lanez.
For Push, teaming up with Courvoisier is all about staying true to their sacred moral codes, as he embraced their story of how the brand continued to prosper over the many years.
“We’re sticking to the mantra ‘honor your code’ and we’re living by that. It’s amazing to be partners with Courvoisier,” said Push.
The drip from meticulously crafted scenery falls as soon as you enter the make-shift liquor mansion. Between the walls of the rustic yet elegant area, the guests were treated to Al-Baseer’s colorful and eclectic interactive art gallery, Rhuigi’s fashion display, and a mini-tour of the private stock room with a tasting of one of their exclusive blends. Chicago’s own DJ Sean Mac soundtracked the night as the crowd drank barrels of Courvoisier VSOP and their special cocktails, the “King Push” and the Courvoisier French 75, all while snapping flicks at the high-end photo booths.
Meanwhile, the man of the hour, Pusha T blended into the crowd in his all-black attire. He spent part of the evening giving the media a quick tour of both exhibits and taking photos with Rhuigi and Al-Baseer.
After Sean Mac practically turned the building into the club scene from New Jack City with his fully loaded 90s set, the majority Black female crowd flocked to the front of the stage for King Push. Straight out the gate, he had the whole crowd screaming the lyrics of “If You Know You Know” word for word and continued with other deep cuts from his Grammy-nominated album Daytona.
Throughout the show, Push gave the Chicago crowd plenty of musical treats to go with their drinks, starting with his classic verses from Kanye’s “Devil in A New Dress”, “So Appalled”, and “New God Flow” from Cruel Summer, along with more Windy City love like his verse from Yeezy’s “Mercy” and his earth-shaking closer, his 16 from Chief Keef’s “Don’t Like” remix. And he kept his foot on the crowd’s neck as he took the room back to ’02 with the Clipse’s claim-to-fame hit, “Grindin.”
Before Pusha T would close the show, he brought out Gunna, to the surprise of the packed and semi-drunken room. Moving off the crowd’s warm vibes, Gunna kept a hot hand all night as he rocked the stage with hits like “Speed It Up”, “Hot”, “Oh Okay”, and shut it down with “Drip Too Hard”. The crowd ate it up while he periodically took selfies with fans in front of the stage and rapped some of his verses on a few of their respective Instagram Lives.
After Sean Mac tempered the crowd from another set, an unexpected Tory Lanez ran on stage to “Broke In A Minute” with a hot crowd. He became a livewire, gyrating to “Talk To Me” and doing tongue-in-cheek call and responses. “If you got an STD then throw your hands up! All their hands mean some of yall lying,” he said in jest.
As the electrifying Lanez spent the whole show singing and getting to know his front row of ladies through singing to them and on their phones, he blew the roof off, wrapping up his set with the fiery “K Oh K”.
Before he hopped on stage, VIBE had a quick word with Pusha T inside the green room during the party and spoke with him about his collaboration with Courvoisier, sharing his love for fashion with Rhuigi Villasenor, and what stands out to him about Chicago’s culture and fashion.
You’ve been a huge fan of Courvoisier for a long time. What drew you to the brand?
The heritage, man. The heritage, the whole story behind it, the whole idea of shared success and how the brand was birthed by pulling up one another. I see similarities in that and just how I look at life and where I am in music and how I can pull up the next future MCs and the next artists in general.
Or even how you and your brother [No Malice] were able to pull each other up over the years.
Brother, friends, family, everybody. Each one, teach one, that’s what it’s all about.
For decades, Courvoisier has been celebrated throughout hip-hop in songs and beyond. How has it been able to remain such a long-lasting staple in hip-hop?
I think hip-hop is drawn to heritage and things that are luxury. It has a luxury aesthetic to it. The taste level is up there, and I feel like hip-hop is drawn to those things.
What are the common threads that bond you and Rhuigi together, considering your passion for fashion?
I think our love for fashion, him being technically great at it and me just looking at it from afar. Me seeing his rise, him being—I own three stores, so I have my employees clamor over his stuff and I’m like, ‘okay, we gotta get this stuff in here.’ Just watching that fanfare.
How did he change your perspective on fashion, if he did in any way?
My perspective on fashion has always been the same in regard to music and fashion, just that whole fusion. All of my favorite rappers were always fresh, they were always fly. [Big Daddy] Kane, Slick Rick, everybody was always—I always saw it as one. I had to want to be like you in every aspect, not just rap like you.
Since you’re in Chicago during All-Star Weekend, what are some takeaways you got from the city’s fashion scene?
I have to say that there are a lot of trendsetters here. A lot of trendsetters here from Don C to Virgil [Abloh]. Even with ‘Ye, I see—watching them progress in fashion I will say that it’s really dope to watch them still learning and trying to learn. I think their hard work and ability and love of fashion is paying off.
Lastly, what’s something amazing from Chicago that you’ve seen since you’ve been here that you didn’t expect?
Well, I’m from Virginia and when I got here, I didn’t know house music was as big as it was here.
You didn’t know that?!
I did not know! This is the Midwest to us. Until I started coming here as an artist in traveling, that’s when I learned it was a part of your culture.
Since then, who are some of your favorites you may have picked up on?
No, I’ve never known. I’ve never known. Ever [laughs]! I just always knew it was a dance thing where we’re from. And I didn’t know when I came out here that house is like a lifestyle. [In Virginia,] you’ll have a house [music] set at a party, that’s cool. Here you have whole house clubs [laughs]. Things like that.