The $40 required to enter Churchill's Saturday night was confirmed to be a record cover charge in the Little Haiti dive's storied 37-year existence. "I think Dick Dale charged $25," an employee at the door said, "But yeah, nobody's ever charged $40."
There was good reason for the price hike, though. Trick Daddy, a local hero and Miami rap icon, was taking the stage. It was a rare chance to see the Liberty City legend play a space not much bigger than your richest relative's living room. The show promoted Trick as "one of the most thuggish rappers ever embraced by the mainstream" and drew an eclectic crowd embodying all kinds of hip-hop heads from the aspiring MC to the ironic hipster. In the hours preceding Trick's performance, there was all kinds of excitement brewing over cans of PBR. One excited rumor milling around was that all the original members of 2 Live Crew were in attendance and would stage a mini-reunion onstage with Trick.
To get Churchill's in the mood, there was a heavy dose of local rappers entertaining the indoor main stage and the outdoor patio, including the night's host, Notorious Nastie. Hood Hippies, a collective of emcees, each took their turn at the mic. Legacy took the stage too with politically minded lyrics, trashing the "crooked ass cracker cops" stationed outside as well as the local gangs that keep the hood drowning in drugs and hopelessness.
After hours of threats and promises, a few minutes before 2 a.m., Trick Daddy emerged with a few dozen of his closest friends. Clad in a black ski cap with a matching T-shirt and heavyweight gold chain around his neck, he launched into a rendition of "I'm So Hood." Trick, with his eyelids hanging heavy, let his bearded hype man expend all the energy on hits like "Bout Mine" and "Nann Nigga."
After asking the bartender for a shot of Patron, Trick Daddy announced to the crowd, "I'm going to show you how turnt up we finna get. We got Brother Marquis here." Then the 2 Live Crew veteran bounced up and down letting out a few verses of one of the most romantic ballads of 20th Century: "Pop That Pussy."
Next came Trick's biggest hit, "I'm a Thug," which drew the night's loudest cheers. The song seemed to finally warm up Trick, though it very well could have been the Patron. He took a moment to address the crowd and spoke of his love for Miami sports teams and the obstacles he overcame to become a superstar. He then made an offer to the women in the audience: "A thousand dollars for the first lady who comes on stage with a yeast infection and can prove it."
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There were no takers.
Maybe that disappointed Trick — or maybe it was the room's temperature, which he complained made him "as hot as a hooker in church" — because after a rendition of "Thug Holiday," he said he was going to play one more song and stayed true to his word, leaving through the door behind the stage not even 25 minutes after he'd entered. His extended crew followed him and the audience slowly realized that was it. His show lasted barely as long as it takes to watch an episode of your favorite sitcom.
There were a couple of boos and a few chants of, "We want Trick." But most of the crowd filed out resigned to the fact that Trick Daddy is thug enough not to care if he earns that cash from your wallet.