Yesterday, at the BB&T Center, radio hip-hop was showcased in all its glory and folly for 103.5 The Beat's the Beat Down. Headliners Kendrick Lamar, Trey Songz, and Future were joined by Rico Love, Yo Gotti, Mr. Vegas, Ace Hood, and DJ Khaled.
The night started out with a Kafkaesque phone call to the arena to find out the cost of parking. Having never ventured from the county of Dade to this particular bhavan, I was concerned about the stack strain the parking might cause.
Monsoon rains then delayed the trek, so that I arrived just around the time when all of South Florida was sighing at the Heat (i.e. the start of the doomed Finals game against the Spurs). I nearly cried when I walked past the curtain leading to section 108/109, only to hear the announcer say "Give it up for Future everybodayyyy!"
See also: 103.5 the Beat's Beat Down
(I was most looking forward to Future, whose recent release Honest is a veritable aural trap of bangers that furthers his raw elevation of voice-as-instrument and is a densely nuanced patchwork of dopeboy narratives and addictive sound stuff, and which points to an eponymous future where unnecessary Auto-Tuning and post-production is shed.)
So, I was not feeling like Fabo, yet still tried to think positively, despite the stone sobriety sans the pleasant buzz of antihistamines, I relished in Mr. Mauricio blasting of Beyoncé and repeated calls for all the single ladies to make some noise (and a lone shout-out to all the loyal ladies too).
Mr. Steal Yo Girl, Trey Songz, was on next, backed by a full band that gave the neo-soul artist a bona fide prog rock sound, complete with annoying guitar solos and a metal version of "Bottoms Up." The highlight of the performance was undoubtedly "Dive In," delivered with exaggerated virility and accompanied by the live cut shots and suggestively rippling waterscapes on the giant LED screen behind him -- the screen which also emitted screen savery graphics and 411 Pain commercials, the screen that was simultaneously nauseating yet rendered it impossible to look away.
The crowd was large but not pushing capacity. Mr. Mauricio called out the people who were leaving either permanently or just to kill time before Kendrick Lamar's set. A sea of cell phones and twerking justified and not, I settled and basked.
Kendrick's set signified the staying power of 2013's good kid, m.A.A.d city, exemplified in the collective catharsis of "Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe." As with much art that has staying power, there was a sense of oversaturation, a teasing of the desire for a follow-up record. Still, no one could help getting into it, from the concierges and stoic boyfriends to the cops on duty.
Outside, after the show, a strangely cool June air had descended, and the night ended with all of us dazed in the Sawgrass Mills parking lot, trying to remember where we parked.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!