Saturday: Hip-Hop For HIV Concert At Reliant Center

Hip-Hop for HIV concert Reliant Center July 31, 2010

2:55 p.m.: Here now. It's crazy packed. The line to get in reaches back, back, back. Good to see. Before we get inside though, we should clear up a few of the plot points for the day:

First, a bit of background info on the event: The Hip-Hop 4 HIV concert concept has been around for four years now. The way it works is simple: First, you get tested for HIV at one of the free testing stations around town. Then you get a free ticket to the show. Pow. Done.

More than 15,000 people got tested this year, according to The Box. It's a great concept that has generated great results, and is apparently due in large part to former Houston politico and current insurance power-player Borris Miles.

By the way, Miles is the most alleged political gangster of all time. Though a bunch of accusations have been laid at his feet, none of them have ever stuck. He's like the J. Prince of Houston politics.

The best Borris Miles story: In 2008, he allegedly stormed into a holiday party uninvited because he was mad at the party host for investing in a rival insurance company. He allegedly had in his possession a bottle of wine and a gun.

He allegedly threatened the host, referred to himself as a "gangster" and a "thug," then kissed said party host on both cheeks and then on his mouth. He then allegedly took out a gun and placed it in said party host's hand. Then Miles allegedly kissed another man's wife. Gangster.

Second, it's hard to discuss anything The Box is doing nowadays without Trae's name getting brought up. Though the lawsuit has been dropped, the two are still at odds with one another. More on this later. For now, to the show...

2:57: Dallas's Party Boyz are standing on stage now. Actually, most of the Party Boyz are standing on stage. One of them is lying on the floor humping it. Is that the type of thing they're doing up in Dallas? Go ahead and add this to the "Reasons We're Glad Houston Isn't Dallas" list.

3:08: Paul Wall is onstage. He opens with "Still Tippin'" and "Chunk Up the Deuce." Nice picks for openers. The crowd is amped. Wall is bouncing around stage very confidently. He's in fine form, very in control.

3:10: Serious Question: Let's say you went to get tested because you wanted to get a ticket to the show. That's the only reason you went. You really, really wanted to see the show. But then you get the results back and find out that you have HIV. (The positivity rate for these tests is 6 to 8 percent.) What then? Do you still go to the show? It seems like maybe that might kind of be a little too close to celebrating. Anyone reading this want to speak on that?

3:16: Are security guards supposed to be taking pictures of the acts that are performing? That doesn't seem proper. For all he knows, all kinds of foul shit could be happening behind him.

3:17: Johnny Dang just came out. He's on a track from Wall's new album. He has never performed before, but he has a mike in his hand. That can only mean...

3:17:30: Yep, Johnny Dang is rapping. Holy Christ. The crowd is going apeshit. The universe is spinning out of control right now. Excellent.

3:19: Wow. Dang is super likeable. He smiles like mad the entire time he's on the stage. Backstage, he shakes hands and takes pictures. He's a rock star now. #OnlyInAmerica

3:20: It's worth mentioning that the piece dangling off of Paul Wall's chain is a diamond-covered, built-to-scale model of a Screw cassette tape. See, now that's classy. That's how you do it. Well done, Mr. Wall.

3:35: The Box's J-Mac and Madd Hatta are backstage. Turns out, they read the Definitive Guide To Which Houston Rappers You Should And Should Not Fight posted here last week. When we introduce ourself to J-Mac, he literally (and playfully) picks us up with one arm, hollers across the room, "Hatta! This is the one that be writing all them articles," then carries us over to Hatta. It's hard to look cool when someone is carrying you around in their arms like an infant.

We all talk for a second about the event, then J-Mac, who has been mentioned in three previous posts in the last two or so weeks, says that he hopes more is written about him. He says it in a manner that implies it'd be nice if it were some nice things, rather than the jabs we've been taking at him. He can probably bench press at least 300 pounds, so...

3:35:04: Did you know that J-Mac doesn't sleep in a bed like the rest of us? Nope. He sleeps inside the carved out belly of a 22-foot-long great white shark that he killed with his bare hands. True story.

3:42: Lloyd Banks is on stage. Why is it that he never really broke big as an artist? He sounds cool. He looks cool. He's tied in with powerful dudes. Something's up.

3:44: Question: Why don't black people crowd-surf at rap concerts? We've been to a ton of shows and never seen it happen once. White people do that shit all the time. They don't even have to be at a concert. They could be in line at Kroger. If there are more than 15 people there, it's going down. #IsThatRacistToSay?

3:46: Banks had previously taken his T-shirt off and thrown it into the crowd. He's now in his undershirt, standing on some speakers near the gate that separates the crowd from the stage. Some girls grasp at his muscle shirt until they've torn it off of him. Ha, ha. Welcome to Houston, Banks.

3:49: There are sectioned off tents backstage for each artist. Through the sheets that wall off the tents you can make out some chairs, a table and a Styrofoam ice chest in each. The ice chest is presumably filled with treats that each artist would enjoy. Wonder what's in Z-Ro's? Rusty nails and horror movies, probably.

3:52: Bun! He's the best. Has he ever not been cool? He could walk on stage with a pork chop on his head and people would be like, "Yo, is Bun wearing a pork chop hat right now? Because that IS FUCKIN' HOT! I gotta get me a pork chop hat."

4:02: Among the songs Bun does, the most well received are "Get Throwed," his verse from "Uptown," "Draped Up," "Big Pimpin'" and "International Player's Anthem." You can never see enough of Bun B live. He's like Trey Songz, but the opposite. #TreySongzLiveShowsAreAwful

4:11: Plies is backstage. He's maybe 5'5", 5'6" at best. Goons are a lot smaller in real life than they make themselves out to be on the radio.

4:15: Bun is milling around backstage, getting pulled this way or that for interviews. He just always seems in control and unfettered. Oh, except for when he was wearing that arm brace a couple of months ago. He looked like a 12-year-old that had fallen out of his tree house then. #ArmBracesAren'tTrill

4:19: Did you know J-Mac once crossed the Atlantic by swimming from California to Hawaii? What's that you say? The Atlantic isn't between California and Hawaii? It is now, because J-Mac picked it up and moved it there.

4:22: Plies is onstage. The place goes bonkers every time he starts a song. It's loud as shit. With the exception of the satirical bombast of "Plenty Money," his appeal is mostly lost on us. Still, this is the third time he's performed at the HH4HIV show, so respect for that.

4:31: Hey, where's the security guard? Shouldn't he be taking pictures to upload to Facebook later? He probably went to take a nap underneath a table or something.

4:46: Oh, look, they're fighting in the crowd again. Probably should've mentioned this before, but a few scuffles have broken out in the crowd over the course of the show today. This makes maybe number three or four. Cool, cool. Somewhere a Trae fan is tweeting about this.

4:56: Did you know that J-Mac doesn't walk anywhere? Nope. He has these two Asian girls carry him around on their shoulders. He doesn't refer to them by name either. He calls them "Asian Number 1" and "Asian Number 2." True story.

5:17: Rother Vandross is up on stage. He has a Styrofoam cup with him. He hits "Lonely," "Haters Got Me Wrong," "Miss My Dawg," "Drivin' Me Wild" (which is curious choice for this type of event, mostly because of the "...you're pussy's 'bout to get a little greasier" line), "Call My Phone," "Associates," "Mo City Don Freestyle," and then brings Big Pokey out for "Don't Worry Bout Mine." Not bad, not bad.

5:50: All things told, the show was pretty well executed and enjoyable. It was a lot of fun, but more importantly, served a lot of good in the community. Bravo to The Box, the City of Houston and other entities that helped bring this together.

To be continued...

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