It's Memorial Day weekend. And as any back-yard playa who's ever organized a bad-ass barbecue block party will recognize, you can't honestly call it a holiday blowout unless you hold strong and fast to the following checklist: (1) The guest list should be designed to draw a crowd that's about 2 to 3 percent beyond max capacity. (2) The food's gotta have soul: e.g., ribs, chicken wings, fried fish, corn on the fucking cob, and some greens. (3) The drinks should be strong enough to knock you out, and there's gotta be some kind of nice, spiked, fruity punch for the ladies. And finally, (4) the entertainment must include a rapper, a diva, a dancehall DJ, a couple of reggae heads, and some slow, sexy shit.
Needless to say, the Best of the Best fest has got it all on lock. From the mob to the grub to the booze, you're covered. For real, this annual Memorial Day bash at Bicentennial Park never misses a beat, especially when it comes to the music.
SATURDAY, MAY 28
Best of the Best 2011
Best of the Best 2011: With Chris Brown, Rick Ross, Shabba Ranks, Stephen and Damian Marley, Trina, DJ Khaled, and others. Saturday, May 28, and Sunday, May 29, at Bicentennial Park, 1075 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Gates open at 5 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Single-day general-admission tickets cost $52, two-day passes cost $95, and admission is free for children under 12; bestofthebestconcert.com.
Indeed, C. Breezy has struggled mightily with rage issues over the past couple of years. But as the superhot single off his newish slab, F.A.M.E., says: "Look at Me Now." He's back at the top of the game, chilling and spitting with straight street superstars like Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes. Plus "Look at Me Now" isn't just a song that happens to be as infectious as ebola. Turns out it was a prediction for the future too. 'Cause when Brown sang, "Oh, I'm getting paper/Look at me now/Oh, look at me now/Yeah, fresher than a motherfucker," he wasn't kidding. This year he's been counting cash and racking up platinum. And just last week, Breezy scored a leading six nominations for this year's BET Awards. Lil homie even beat out Weezy. That's major.
As high and hot as Chris Brown might be riding right now, there's room for only one Boss in Dade County, and that's Ricky Rozay. Still cruising at 120 mph off the fumes of 2010's Teflon Don and its massive singles "B.M.F. (Blowin' Money Fast)" and "Aston Martin Music," Ross is already eyeing his next hustle and it's called God Forgives, I Don't. The first banger, "Made Men" featuring Drake, off this still-unreleased record came out in March. And already the Don has followed up with another bigger, badder blast: a collab with Lil Wayne named "9-Piece." It's hard, icy, and mean. Totally befitting the Boss.
As mentioned at the top, every party needs a diva, and Ms. Keri Hilson qualifies in almost every way. She writes her own songs. She's punch-you-in-the-face pretty. She knows how to smoke a cigarette. She can rock a leopard-print shirt, leather jacket, and a tangle of gold chains without looking skeezy. And she's got the pipes to pull off "I Will Always Love You" à la Whitney before the crack.
No, Travis Porter isn't just one guy. He's three. But if you listen to the radio, own an umbrella, or watch 106 & Park once a week, you don't even need an introduction 'cause you already know these rainmakers by name (Ali, Quez, and Strap) and you already have a mixtape of their bounciest party tracks ("Bananas," "Bring It Back," "Make It Rain," etc.) popped into your Explorer's pimped-out stereo and set on loop.
Yes, when we asked for "some slow, sexy shit," we were talking about Trey Songz. He's R. Kelly, if R. Kelly somehow shed 20 pounds, 17 years, and his reputation for peeing on people. That's a joke. But Songz's irresistible R&B jam "Love Faces" isn't. Despite the fact that it's a track about making weird facial expressions during sexual intercourse, you wanna sing along. And strangely, when Trey croons them, even lyrics like "Wouldn't it be nice if all night I was in you?" seem romantic.
SUNDAY, MAY 29
This 45-year-old Jamaican dancehall DJ is an old-schooler now. And he hasn't released a new album in more than a decade. But back in the day, Mr. Ranks was a chart killer and a sex god. Specifically, it was 1992 and everybody was screaming "Shabba!" because "Mr. Loverman" was blasting out of every boombox in the hood. He was an odd-looking dude who croaked like a toad with a mouthful of mud. But you believed him when he said, "To satisfy her soul, you know she want a man/But it's Shabba Ranks she buck upon/I gon' make she explode just like a bomb/Every hour, every minute, and every second/Dem call me Mr. Lover."
Stephen and Damian Marley
Do you know how fucking lucky we are? We live in Miami. And because the Marley clan has been based out of South Florida for decades, we get the chance to hang out with Stephen and Damian — plus Ziggy, Julian, and Ky-Mani — on an almost biannual basis. Of course, there's the Nine Mile Music Festival, AKA Marley Fest. And then there's Best of the Best. Again, do you know how fucking lucky we are?
When an invitation for any big Memorial Day bash in Miami arrives in the mail, one should always scan the guest list for one name: Trina. 'Cause if the Baddest Chick isn't gonna be there, neither should you. Luckily, she's booked to hit Bicentennial Park this weekend. So there's no excuse to skip out on the fest. Just go ball wit' the Diamond Princess, get off the chain wit' it, and throw it back. Dress code: no panties.
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Wow, it's the 21st Century. And here's the first sign we're living in some kind of bizarre sci-fi future: Musicians are no longer making in-the-flesh appearances at major music festivals. Instead, like dancehall mogul Vybz Kartel, they're being beamed down via satellite from (sorta) faraway lands such as Jamaica and then broadcast on giant LCD screens for the enjoyment of the masses. Honestly, it's gonna be weird watching Vybz's Best of the Best set on an enormous TV in Bicentennial Park.
DJ Khaled and Ace Hood
For years, Khaled has been keeping it live in the 305. He's a radio jock, a superproducer, and a rap mogul. And recently the "We the Best" boss has been tutoring a 22-year-old Deerfield Beach mike mangler named Ace Hood. The student's most important lesson — hustle hard, which he explained to RapUp.com earlier this month: "Never sleep. Work, work, and work." But we'd like to modify that teachable point a bit, 'cause it's not just work that's done best without sleep. The same goes for ballin' with the best on Memorial Day weekend.