Thug Paradise

Tricky Daddy Dollars brings a little of Northwest Miami to South Beach

"Everybody gotta go back the other way," he shouts. "Back up!"

Somewhere in the gridlock, CO slaps five with a man wearing a black wave cap and a beige flannel pajama shirt over a black tank top. A camera's flashing bulb reveals the self-proclaimed "ol' sneaky, ol' freaky, ol' geechy-ass nigga"himself. Trick Daddy patiently stands shaking hands and signing autographs. His homeboy demeanor makes it hard to tell whether the crowd gathered around him is made up of friends or fans. Grinning like a man who has smoked about twelve blunts packed with a pound of weed, he greets everyone the same. Some of his admirers launch pen and paper at him while others reach out to touch him or pull him close to offer praise in his ear. At the center of the commotion Trick remains calm. There are no playa haters or "flodgin' ass niggas" here tonight. Worm is the only security in the vicinity. The entire club feels like it is filled with people from Trick's neighborhood.

CO leads the group in prayer. "We thank God for this occasion," he says solemnly. The men join hands above their heads and bow as they count their blessings. Surviving the streets of Brownsville or Carol City to succeed in the fledgling and often disrespected game of Miami rap is cause enough to praise the Almighty.

If Trick is the thug messiah,then labelmate Trina is the thug madonna, dressed in Chanel from head to toe. The Diamond Princess carries a large Chanel bag that could double as a suitcase. Red Chanel earrings dangle from her ears. While Trick flits among the faithful, she sits quietly with her own entourage. With her designer clothes and high-priced flash, she is the dream incarnate for her adoring fans.

Sometime between 2:30 and 3:00 a.m., Trick takes the stage with the entire Slip-N-Slide posse in tow. There is label CEO Ted Lucas and labelmates Rick Ross, CO, Money Mark, Iconz, J, Tre +. WEDR radio personality Supa Cindy also squeezes onstage alongside 99 Jamz mixer DJ Irie and lots of unidentified Trick Daddy friends and hangers-on. As Trick shares the microphone and the spotlight with his pals onstage, he looks small. He couldn't weigh much more than 150 pounds, but in the eyes of everyone here he is a giant.

CO notices that the audience not only sings along with old tunes from Thugs Are Us and Www.Thug.com, they can also recite the lyrics to most of the unreleased songs. He threatens to follow the crowd out to their cars to confiscate the bootleg CDs they must have copped in order to have studied the material so thoroughly. "You ain't download nothin' from the Internet," he jokes. "You ain't even got no computer!"

When the show ends around 4:00 a.m. one of the members of Unda Presha, a Slip-N-Slide teen rap act, reminds the crowd of the real party scheduled after the show. The posse plans to head back to the city to the strip club Rolexx. Billboardlive is nice and all, but you get the sense that Trick is ready to relax with a little stripper comfort. This hometown boy has basked in his moment of Beach nightlife, but now it is time to take it to the house. After all, baby, he's a thug.

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