A handful of Armani, Guess, and Kenneth Cole shirts wrinkle in the humidity outside an unmarked club on Collins Avenue. There's no line and hardly a soul on the street, but still a honey named Honey holding a clipboard marked "Guest List" insists the guest list is closed. One of the rejects claims he is a regular at Mynt. If he is, he must be used to playing Let's Make a Deal.
"I'm supposed to be on '+4,'" says an earnest Armani, hoping to get behind door number one.
"I can let you and the three women in," sniffs Honey, offering a consolation prize. Not good enough.
"It would have been nice to know that your list closes at a certain time," the Armani huffs. "Besides, there is no one out here and I am highly doubtful that there is anyone inside."
Probably not. But then Honey is no St. Peter, granting passage past the Pearly Gates. Instead she wants to keep as many would-be partiers piled up on the sidewalk as possible to give the illusion that heaven lies just on the other side. Her plan seems to be succeeding. As clusters form on the sidewalk, cars slow to see what's going on.
Like a serpent wrapped around the tree of nightlife knowledge, a woman scarfing a slice at a sidewalk table nearby hisses, "The best thing about this place is the pizza next door."
The shirts give up. "Is there another club with a DJ on a Wednesday night that isn't such a hassle?" laments a Kenneth Cole.
Clubbed can answer that with a four-buck cab ride to Goddess Nightclub for a party celebrating three men billed as "The World's Greatest Producers." Less hassle, more hustle. Aw, yeah, this is one of those big events courtesy of the Billboard R&B and Hip-Hop Conference. There will even be, the flyers say, "special invited guests." In clubspeak this means: people-whose-public-relations-office-we-faxed-to-let-them-know-about-the-party. Right, they'll be there.
And just who are the greatest producers in the world? Apparently, Rodney Jerkins and the Neptunes. Sure Jerkins was instrumental in the success of such acts as Destiny's Child, Britney Spears, and the latter-day Whitney Houston, but his recent lackluster efforts with fallen King of Pop Michael J. and little Miss post-Moesha Brandy hardly make him one of The Greatest.
The Neptunes are faring a little better at the cash register these days. Everyone dropping a disc for the next 50 years, it seems, has a track in production with the Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo team, but their formulaic drum machine beats and Moog basslines leave the monotonous duo in the category of Most-In-Demand at best.
So much in demand that Pharrell hasn't even shown up at his own party yet. Instead Clubbed catches up with the Neptune prancing through Billboardlive, where R&B crooner Avant and Mr. Back-That-Ass-Up Juvenile are actually scheduled to perform. But Pharrell's not here for the show. Under the watchful eye of a hulking security guard, he makes his way over to Rico Wade from Organized Noise. Now, despite Wade's work with OutKast, Goodie Mob, and TLC, he is apparently not one of the greatest producers in the world. But that's okay, 'cuz Pharrell's not asking him into the studio tonight. This is more like a safari. Are they on the prowl for the latest South Florida sound? For Magic City beats? No, the greatest and not-so-greatest have set their sights on the lovely local ladies, leaving no doubt that no matter what night it is, out-of-town playas still see Miami not as a music mecca but, as the song says, a place to get "brain in the water on Memorial Day."
Even Bubba Sparxxx, the good ol' boy rapper from Athens and Timbaaland protégé (and no, even though Timmy's in town to follow up his last smash with Missy Elliott, he is apparently not one of the world's greatest producers either), confirms this theory when he urges the DJ to let everyone at Billboardlive know that "ATL is in the house."
Ain't no love for the MIA.
So it's back in the cab, this time for a quick trip to Jazid, where the Spam Allstars have crossed over the causeway for the little Washington Avenue club's Wednesday night. Dreadlocked sax man A.J. Hill blows his horn, then takes a breath to paraphrase Kool & the Gang: "If you hear any noise, it's just DJ Le Spam."
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Yes, boogie-babies, Jazid may not be the only South Beach club attempting to channel the fan frenzy and media ecstasy inspired by these merry Funkateers from Little Havana's Thursday night Fuácata party. Spin and more recently B.E.D. have also enlisted DJ Andrew Yeomanson and his shifting roster of musical roustabouts -- but the Lincoln Road elite is still a little too chill to feel the funk. Only Jazid's no-cover-no-jive-vibe is ripe for a Spam injection of supercool.
Which is maybe a little too cool for the fortysomething Boca Raton pilgrims huddled at the back of the bar, braving the South Beach wilds in neatly pressed shirts and snappy ties. They look on in bewilderment, not quite sure what to make of these modern-day beatniks. The suits wanted five-foot-eleven supermodels, fancy cars, designer thongs, and overpriced bottle service. Well, not tonight, honey.
Or better yet, go see Honey. There may be lines of guest-list rejects waiting outside Mynt to see nothing inside. Hip-hop may have taken the Beach hostage, unleashing the World's Greatest Producers on unsuspecting citizens. But over here at Jazid, when Allstar flutist Mercedes Alba wiggles her bare midriff she reveals mysteries between her flowing peasant blouse and patched-up hippie bell bottoms like some Cuban Virgin de la Fiesta.
Blessing the misfits in the back with a wink and a smile, she chants what might well be the Spam prayer -- a message to the overhyped hip-hoppers and rope-keepers of the world: "Party over here, fuck you over there!"