SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Hollywood apparently doesn’t know you’re not supposed to bring sand to the beach.
One of the early event at this year’s Mixshow Power Summit, an annual gathering of hip-hop DJs and industry folks, was Thursday’s “2 Fast, 2 Furious” DVD release party, for which Universal Pictures turned the Westin Rio Mar’s ballroom into a giant beach party — just steps away from an actual beach.
Still, the air conditioning was appreciated, and the cookout-style spread provided a nice atmosphere for guys like RZA and Busta Rhymes to rep for their friends Ludacris, Tyrese and Joe Budden as they took over the stage. Ludacris came out and rocked hits like “Stand Up,” “Move B***h” and “Act a Fool” before Joe Budden took over with a set featuring “Focus” and “Pump It Up.”
At the El Conquistador Hotel later that night, the infamous Tony Montana mansion was re-created in honor of the new “Scarface” DVD. On the way in, guests got an official “Scarface” Panama hat and a wad of “money” to gamble at the many casino tables. Guests were treated to an Italian feast as women shed their costumes high above on poles or in oversized bathtubs filled with funny money.
Pharrell Williams, Busta, the Clipse and scores of DJs looked on as the stage went dark to the sound of Al Pacino saying, “Say hello to my little friend.” After some more of the movie’s most quotable lines, hip-hop’s most quotable MC, Jay-Z, came out to the sounds of his Reasonable Doubt classics “Dead Presidents II” and “Can I Live.” Dressed in full gangsta gear, Jigga gave a brief performance, bringing Pharrell onstage for a little “Frontin’,” then handed the mic to his extended Roc fam before leaving the island aboard a private plane.
The next day, Pharrell and Timbaland showed off their up-and-comers at a Star Trak/Beat Club showcase, where the Clipse played their new street hit, “Pu—” and performed alongside Rosco P. Coldchain and new Star Trak artist Fam-Lay. Mobb Deep were in attendance to watch Kelis shake her “Milkshake” and perform her single of the same name.
That night at San Juan’s Club Arena, Green Lantern helped get the crowd moving for the Shady Records showcase, which officially began with the words “Obie Trice: real name, no gimmicks.” The newcomer gave an energy-filled show, toasting Cheers with the crowd as he downed at least half a bottle of cognac.
DJ Whoo Kid came out with Sinatra’s signature “New York, New York” as an intro before 50 Cent emerged to rock the Rico a second time. 50, along with Lloyd Banks and Young Buck, got every culito in the crowd shaking with “In Da Club,” the obvious crowd favorite. The ladies in the audience proved a hot body and a smile are the same in any language by staring wide-eyed at 50’s muscles as he asked them all “21 Preguntas” … er, uh “21 Questions.”
The final afternoon of the conference found the Ruff Ryders’ Asian sensation Jin on the same stage as classic hip-hop duo Gang Starr. Later, a Shady clothing line fashion show employed Green Lantern’s DJ skills and occupied Obie Trice, who spent more time checking out the cocktail waitresses than the runway designs.
It was soon time for the culmination of the entire event, which was an awards show put on by Universal Music. As DJs picked up awards, artists like Da Band, Raekwon, and D-Block’s Styles, Sheek, Jadakiss and Jae Hood provided entertainment. Classic DJ favorites like Raekwon’s “Incarcerated Scarfaces” and Sheek Louch’s current “2 Guns Up” got the crowd on its feet.
The finale was again at Club Arena, where J Records showed they knew how to put on a show. New artists Sly Boogie, Cassidy and Shells won crowd reactions that most veterans could only hope for as they impressed even the hip-hop jaded.
Rah Digga showcased her new music, but the crowd really got open when her Flipmode family joined her onstage. Busta busted out a long line of hits, including “Give It to Me Raw,” which sent the crowd into a frenzy. Keeping the night going, Alicia Keys took the stage with a full band for such hits as “A Woman’s Worth” and “Fallin’.” The crowd really went wild when she played the opening bars of Nas‘ “N.Y. State of Mind” and out came Nas to do the verse for their track together “Streets of N.Y.”
The highlight set of the night, though, would come from Wyclef Jean. The Fugees veteran started off with the Bob Marley Classic “No Woman, No Cry” and kept the hit machine going from there. He did everything from back flips to playing “911” on the guitar with his tongue over a writhing chica from the crowd.
Later, Clef fearlessly jumped into the audience and stood on the back bar as his DJ played Bone Crusher’s “Never Scared” and reggae tracks by guys like Bounty Killer and Sizzla. Playing to the crowd, ‘Clef dropped lines in Español as well as in English, but what solidified the crowd’s love was his tribute to Celia Cruz, which included a sing-along of “Guantanamera.”
Hollywood take note: If you want people to love you, just keep it real.