Rap on this weekend as South Beach houses the hip-hop conference "How Can I Be Down," when homeboys and girls from across the land urbanize the million-dollar sandbar. Many events weren't confirmed at press time, but among those that were: Rakim (see "Kulchur" ) on Friday night at Zen (1203 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-2817). Even without Eric B. he'll surely pack the house. Call for more information. And Cristal (1045 5th St., Miami Beach; 305-604-2582) is adding to the mix with at least two parties: DJs Clue, Suicide, Uncle Al, and performers from the management firms Top Choice and Money Talks will monopolize the mike on Thursday; then on Friday it's Ginuwine's platinum-record party. Doors to both Cristal parties open at 10:00 p.m., cover charge is $20 or $35 for VIP.
Can't get much further away from hip-hop than Celtic rock. So if you're not going to be at the Beach for the conference, then head over to Little Haiti and take in the Volunteers CD-release party at Churchill's Hideaway (5501 NE 2nd Ave.; 305-757-1807). Talk about old school: The Volunteers were around before there even was an old school, and with Homer Wills on harp, vocalist/guitarist Henk Milne, double bassist Chris DeAngelis, fiddler Pat Donovan, guitarist Paul Feltman, penny whistler Barbara Drake, and drummer Zaido Cruz, you can check out the eclecticism that turned this band into one of Miami's darlings. The 18 Wheelers kick off the party at 10:00 p.m. Cover charge is five dollars.