Rick Ross and Raekwon
With Thee Tom Hardy, Phil Adé, DJ Keen One, and DJ Money
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Better than: Ten cargo containers full of fake shit.
At precisely 8 p.m. on Saturday night, international swag smuggling operation Sneaker Pimps made Mekka its official Miami stash house. Outside, overexcited shoe junkies waited in line, pacing and twitching and jittering.
After being carded, hustled past the ropes, and patted down for dangerous weapons, several hundred footware freaks slipped into the warehouse's dirty white insides. Every corner of the club -- floor space, VIP areas, and even the Vibe lounge -- was packed with product from syndicates such as Footsoldiers, Sneaker Town, Da Bottom, 8&9, Mahvee, and memorial line Ynot Lives. There were dozens of limited-edition Nikes, big bales of "Fuck You From Miami" and "Stop Rockin' Fakes" t-shirts, and a million custom caps, all of it stacked crookedly to the ceiling. Yeah ... Total swap meet insanity.
Ringing around the bar and filling a few rooms, you also had Sneaker Pimps shoe exhibits, showing custom kicks of all kinds -- FMS, Nikes with official Pimps paintjobs, Aasic Gel Lytes, rhinestoned Adidas soccer spikes, and a pair of rainbow-colored Addy hi-tops with Mickey Mouse sprouting from the tongue -- tied to chainlink fence behind yellow Caution tape.
After about 40 minutes, North Carolina's finest white boy rapper and recent signee to 9th Wonder's The Academy label, Thee Tom Hardy, hit the stage, shouting out Miami hometowners 2 Live Crew and Trick Daddy. In a sort of geeked-out squeak, the skinny kid with a chinstrap beard dropped a deck of quirky indie rhymes from his impending debut album. Oddly, random crowd members climbed onstage throughout the set as if nothing was going down, heading stage left to fiddle with an old-school NBA Jam arcade unit that had been reengineered to accommodate a flatscreen TV and a Wii console. To his credit, Hardy didn't give a shit. He just spit.
Next, Maryland MC Phil Adé skipped onstage in a LRG hat, a pair of camo shorts, Twelvebar team t-shirt, and Jordans, kicking out pop-culture riffs and playful boasts over bouncy party beats. Doin' work, he kept a white towel tossed over his shoulder, wiping away sweat while zipping through snippets of material off his recent mixtape The Letterman. And capping it off, the wiry little dude serenaded a very cute, very young girl sitting at stage's edge with his official remix version of Wale's "Pretty Girls." She blushed. He smirked.
Following Adé, there was a superlong lull that MC Phli Dave Jeff filled with non-stop giveaways. Every few minutes, he'd hype the crowd, giving a shout-out to Danny of Shoe Gallery or tossing off chatter like "If you see somebody with some fake-ass sneakers, smack they ass!" And then the goodies -- Sneaker Pimps shirts and free Wii copies of NBA Jam -- would get flung toward one extremely emphatic audience member or another. It was basically repeat, stall, repeat for over an hour.
The only musical interlude (aside from DJ Keen One and DJ Money's mix, scratch, and mash) in this marathon sesh of free shit was a one-song cameo by dreadlocked Miramar mike mangler Plus Givens (AKA C-Plus), a sometime Rick Ross collaborator.
Then finally, in a plain white tee, creased jeans, and a pair of low-top Gucci kicks, Raekwon rolled out right around 11:30, shouting: "Real niggas do real shit!" And the crowd called back with the same refrain. "I'm gonna give a shout out to all my people at Sneaker Pimps that invited me out to fuck with y'all," he growled. "I just wanna know one more thing: Can I do some classics in here tonight?" His people screamed. "Y'all know these joints. I'm about to spazz out!"
Starting off, the Chef strangled his mike, ripping into a quick and rough rendition of "C.R.E.A.M." (an acronym, if you don't already know, for Cash Rules Everything Around Me) that immediately pulled the entire room into a ragged rap-along, punctuated by loud shouts of "Dollar dollar bill, y'all!" It was a breakneck burst. And all in all, this live version lasted only a minute and a half (the original studio track runs 4:11) because Raekwon only spit his own verses. And that was the Chef's script for the rest of his half-hour set as he sped through condensed versions of Wu-Tang classics and his own solo joints.
After a couple more cuts and just a shade before the middle point of his show, Raekwon detoured for a full minute into a strange acappella freestyle. He touched on diverse topics like government employees, bling, and the street game.
Our best transcription: "Bags of black/Fuck the feds/My paper from Aruba/Go to Bermuda, it spreads/Camera actions got the calico (unintelligible)/We're through that/Good jewelry on, I gots to do that/Raw chain hatchet/Flooded up, you knew that/Your baby blue mac/Stones on a nozzle stick/Old (unintelligible) with the Jew bitches/All I got is two cracks/'Cause (unintelligible) rude raps/Bagging every Ziplock/And my people sit around, cops split that/High polar, white Kit-Kats/We still up in the hood/Go up door to door/And before every getback/My gangsta shit, get Gats/Every man, go a grand/Meet me by my drop, head, and push your shit back/47 quick claps/Put that shit on, B!"
And with that cue to DJ Symphony, Raekwon reentered the predetermined part of the night, rolling through grumble-throated 90 second takes of "10 Bricks" and "Protect Ya Neck." As always, his flow was acrobatic and sharp. But the delivery was dirty. And Mekka's rumble-prone sound system only added to the rawness. At times, the spitting turned sloppy and the bass caused quakes. Still, though, the Chef and his hype crew were tight enough to slash through the distortion.
Wrapping his time, Raekwon called out one last cut. But just as the DJ was about to lay down the backing track, a gang of Wu-Tang freaks started chanting its final request: "Ice Cream! Ice Cream! Ice Cream!" And the Chef just shook his head, smirked, and obliged, coming on with some sweet, sticky sundae talk and filthy sex chatter. (If you don't remember the lyrics, here's a taste: "Ice-cold bitches melt down when my clutch/And what they titties sucked, ice cream!") Then in a split second, he shifted into blazing gangsta mode, pulling out the official ender, "Incarcerated Scarfaces," a fully cocked stream-of-consciousness street slam. And so, it was click and blam and all over.
No more than five minutes later, Rick Ross strolled out alongside Maybach members Masspike Miles and Gunplay, plus a full entourage of hot mamas, professional shoppers, body guards, old-school brothers, and token randoms. The Kingpin rocked
Jordans LeBron's Nike Air Max 8 South Beach sneaks and a matching Mi Gente ball cap with a cartoonishly huge black shirt and shorts combo. He was also blinged-out big time with a fat pinky ring, black timepiece, and some weirdly elegant (and undoubtedbly expensive) neckwear.
Like a hibernating behemoth, the Boss (maybe stoned, maybe sleepy) owned the scene without ever really opening his eyes. And even though the stage was totally swamped with bodies, Rozay and his perfectly cut beard were the undeniable focal point. He stalked around in the shadows, stepped into the strobing spotlight, and strode up and down Mekka's double runways.
At a steady clip, Ross, Miles, and Gunplay popped off a pair of Teflon Don tracks, "MC Hammer" and "B.M.F. (Blowin' Money Fast)," in about five minutes while DJ Sam Sneak provided backup. They rolled fast, deep, hard. And if there was any doubt at all that the Carol City Kingpin was the night's true headliner (all deference to Raekwon), you only had to turn your head. The whole place was pogo-ing, throwing hands, and wilding out.
Club killer "Oh Let's Do It" came next ("Bitch, I think I'm Scarface/Bitch, I'm Al Pacino/Flippin my lil' c-notes, painted my new Benzo/Took my bitch to Red Lobster/I can't feed no friends, though") before Ross and crew launched into a few verses over DJ Khaled's anthem for epic victory, "All I Do Is Win." From every edge of the crowd, homies and wannabe Gs flashed V-signs high overhead. The cameras flashed. And the Boss dipped back, riding low.
Then things got romantic. In a whisper, Mr. Ricky Rozay started talking sweet for the ladies and mused on the subject of pink champagne. He asked Sam Sneak to slip some smooth sounds into the mix. And the choice selection happened to be "Aston Martin Music," leading off with Chrisette Michelle's cooing, followed by Drake's soulful crooning: "Would have came back for you/I just needed time to do what I had to do."
Quick, though, shit got back to sex and slanging with a rendition of Masspike Miles's mack jam "Nasty" and one of Ross's certified classics, "Hustlin'," which ended up being the finale. Segueing with a statement, "We all hustlas," the big man called on Sam Sneak to drop that singsong hook: "Everyday I'm hustling, everyday I'm hustling, everyday I'm hustling." And in just over two minutes, the Boss and his backers resurrected the biggest banger of summer 2006, knocking out the full first verse ("I know Pablo, Noriega, the real Noriega/He owe me a hundred favors") and half of the second ("We never steal cars, but we deal hard/Whip it real hard") before crashing glass called it all to a close and the Maybach crew bounced backstage.
Personal Bias: I came up in the suburbs back in '96 when All Eyez on Me, Life After Death, and Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) were bibles for life.
The crowd: Predominantly dudes with a small contingent of single women sprinkled amongst the sausage. Even Mr. Ricky Rozay took notice, saying: "There's a lot of fellas in the building tonight. But I think we're all playas about it and we know how to handle it, right?"
Overheard in the Crowd: Three underage guys fixated on one of the few females at the foot of the stage and started talking shit. Guy #1: "Look at that lady." Guy #2: "She fine, fine, fine." Guy #3: "Yeah, nigga. So sexy, I'd smell her shoes for free."
Partial Set Lists:
-"Protect Ya Neck"
-"B.M.F. (Blowin' Money Fast)"
-"Oh Let's Do It"
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-"All I Do Is Win"
-"Aston Martin Music"
-"Nasty" (Featuring Masspike Miles)