Slim Thug, Z-Ro, etc. Warehouse Live February 14, 2013
If partying it up in the same building as a bunch of famous rappers sounds like a pretty good time to you, you're in luck: Every rapper in existence is in town for the NBA All-Star Game this weekend, and many of them are planning to have a few drinks and kick a few jams while they're here.
A number of them turned up at Warehouse Live on Thursday night, and they invited fans of hip-hop and the basketball's glitziest spectacle alike to pour up right along with them -- so long as they brought money. It was a pretty nice list of names on the poster: local faves Scarface and Slim Thug with East Coast institutions Jadakiss and Juelz Santana. Solid hip-hop all-stars one and all, even if none of them quite makes the team's starting lineup in 2013.
Fans who ponied up to see them together on one stage could probably be forgiven for expecting a rap concert to break out, but that ain't exactly what happened.
It was clear that this event was something different altogether as soon as I stepped inside the Warehouse ballroom. Color-changing ultra-lounge lighting elements had been set up everywhere, including a freaking Saturday Night Fever light-up dancefloor in the middle of the room. Lining the edges of the floor were several roped-off clusters of VIP couches, where a happy few with fuck-you money enjoyed bottle service for much of the night.
The rest of us spent the hours between 9 p.m. and midnight drinking and bobbing our heads to a high-energy mix by DJ Hi-C, waiting for somebody, anybody to start rhyming. Finally -- mercifully -- after three hours of that shit, the ever-reliable Slim Thug appeared to big cheers. Thugga ran through some of his best-loved verses, including "Still Tippin'" and "Houston," which are proven to drive any H-Town crowd bonkers.
Then Slim brought out an ace in the hole: the Mo City Don himself, Z-Ro the Crooked, joined him on "Associates," and then stuck around for more. Z-Ro has a nice habit of making any show he appears on worth the hassle, and he put the audience into a deep groove with his incredible hook on "Gangsta" before slipping into an unconscious flow on his "Mo City Don Freestyle."
Slim Thug and Z-Ro are great fun and all, and they put on a solid set. But if you put Scarface's name on a poster and charge admission only to excuse him from rapping altogether, it's going to be disappointing, no matter what. 'Face looked to be in good spirits, commanding the crowd to have a good time and high-fiving anybody in the front row who was interested. But he didn't drop even a single rhyme (not one couplet!), which sucks pretty bad considering his live appearances are becoming increasingly rare.
It was the same story with the rest of the rappers who turned up onstage, from Jadakiss and Juelz to Trae the Truth and freaking Busta Rhymes, who apparently did not receive the fee he required to send the crowd into hysterics with a single verse from "Break Ya Neck."
Busta and friends were content to wave to the crowd and throw up a few Hs besides getting some professional networking done up there. It was an odd experience watching famous people and their entourages hang out and drink onstage, and I grew increasingly glad that I hadn't paid to get in. As Hi-C kept the beats coming fast and furious, some in the crowd appeared determined to keep up with the stars' partying. But as the clock sped towards last call, a lot of us began thinking of the shit we had to do in the morning.
By the time I gave up on hearing the elusive Scarface dust off an old classic or two, the crowd onstage was practically as large as the dwindling bunch on the floor. For many, Thursday was just a little too early to begin celebrating All-Star Weekend in the preferred fashion. Lord have mercy on all who were expecting an honest-to-God rap concert.
When I hit the door, Juelz was conducting the crowd through a singalong to "Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta," a champagne bottle in one hand and a cigarillo in the other. As a celebration, it wasn't half bad, I guess. Would've been a lot better if he could have put one of those party favors down and picked up a microphone, instead, though.
Personal Bias: Watching rappers drink and dance isn't nearly as fun as it sounds, and it doesn't even sound that fun.
The Crowd: Party people.
Overheard In the Crowd: "Wait, who's that guy?"
Random Notebook Dump: Valentine's Day could have probably been better spent drinking at home and playing my own damn Geto Boys records.