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   Now in our eleventh calendar year
    PCR #522  (Vol. 11, No. 13)  This edition is for the week of March 22--28, 2010.

"How To Train Your Dragon"  by Mike Smith
FANEX Files: Samuel Z. Arkoff  by ED Tucker
Album of the Month: Jimi Hendrix-Valleys of Neptune  by Terence Nuzum
FANGRRL Goes To The 2010 Gasparilla International Film Festival  by Lisa Scherer
DVD Review: Cave of the Silken Web  by Jason Fetters
Lampin' Goes To Wild Splash 2010  by John Miller
Movie Notes .... Passing On .... Toy Story .... .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf by Mike Smith
Lampin at the 6th Borough by John Miller

Lampin' Goes To Wild Splash 2010

To say that I dislike local "Hits" and "Hip-Hop" station Wild 94.1 would be an understatement of the worst offense. The lame rotation of simplistic brain candy aimed at immature teens, the corny white DJ's who may or may not be reading idiotic urban dialogue from a script. It's enough to make a hip-hop fan keel over in pain and hurl their intestines out.

So, it is with some irony that I write this article not as a long-winded rant in opposition of the corporate culture vulture, but as a newly won-over fan of the station thanks to their annual spring break Wild Splash concert held at Clearwater's beautiful Coachman Park. OK, maybe fan is too strong of a word.

How I got to this point is fairly simplistic. A month or so back, me, the wifey and some midgets won a free ticket to the event from Wild 94.1's promotional booth at the Tampa Bay Rays Fan Fest at Tropicana Field. Although I rarely listen to the station these days because of its nagging ability to make blood sweat out of my pores and shoot from my ears, I was still able to name three of the acts performing at this year's Wild Splash and win the free ticket. Only problem was there were two of us and just one ticket.

Although I procrastinated until the last minute, it wasn't a hard decision for me to purchase the second ticket. Not only did me and the misses need a day out and about, but I had been up to my neck swimming in vinegar at the meat-pickling factory while dodging doctors eager to squeeze puss out of my numerous skin infections. I needed an escape, and even though Wild 94.1 is the manifestation of nearly everything in this life I am morally opposed to, I figured, hey, if I can't beat them then I might as well join them. At least this once.

After making our way through the hordes of creepy cult members that occupy downtown Clearwater, we arrived just in time around 2:30pm to witness the first act to hit the stage, local artist Javon Black featuring Lil Kee. As a supporter of local hip-hop I will admit that neither Javon Black nor Lil Kee are really my thing, but boy can they make catchy tunes. I have little doubt that Javon Black is destined for stardom, or at least his fifteen minutes of fame. Their live show is on point and professional. Kicking things up a notch they brought out surprise guest Strizzo, a popular local artist known for his jook city schtick. These guys may not have the budget or national name recognition of the other artists, but they can kick start a party with the best of them.

Up next was a snoozer of a performance by Lil Wayne protege, Yo Gotti. Maybe I am a little bit of a biased hater but nothing about this guy appeals to me. It's like a rehash of a bad gimmick I have already seen done better and will probably see a hundred more times in the near future. To make matters worse he really only rhymed for about seven of the twenty minutes he was on stage. The rest of the time was spent playing lyrics from Drake and Lil Wayne. Or at least that's how I remember it.

Yo Gotti was followed up by Trina who hit the stage surprisingly early considering her star power. Like Yo Gotti she cop'd out by burning her time with Lil Wayne songs in between her attempts at sleep walking through her set. You know, it really says something about an artist's popularity when other artists they are not even associated with need to use your jams to hype up their crowd. Needless to say, Trina was a big disappointment, especially since she was one of the main artists I was looking forward to seeing.

The biggest surprise of the day came thanks to the tight jean wearing, bright color shirt rocking duo The New Boyz. I had previously passed these two off as nothing more than a couple of untalented teenage hacks. Man was I wrong, these kids are the real deal with the talent to go places. Sure, it's not really my thing, but I can understand their appeal to a younger demographic. Some of their older counterparts should be taking notes from these guys on how to properly wreck a stage.

We took a few minutes after The New Boyz set to soak in the picturesque view of the water from Coachman Park before indulging in some five dollar Budweisers while taking a stroll through the carnival-like atmosphere of the event. Several local artists were on hand to push their wares including Acafool who's underground hit Hata Blockaz has gained somewhat of a cult status around these parts. The main focus for me were the numerous scantily-clad women who had taken it upon themselves to entertain the crowds with their dancing. The misses obviously didn't appreciate this too much but that's what the five dollar beers were for. A fair trade-off if you ask me.

Also in attendance were the fine folks of the U.S. Army who in my humble opinion have no business at a hip-hop concert, especially on this, the eighth anniversary of the Iraq War, where so many of our fellow peers have been shuffled off to die for the interest of big business. I digress.

Around 5 in the afternoon, the very talented B.O.B. took the stage. I've been aware of B.O.B. for a minute but not really familiar with his stuff until seeing him live. What a brilliant all around musician who is severely under-appreciated. This guy plays the guitar, piano, you name it. Unfortunately, I got the impression from the crowd that this man's style was a bit over the audience's head. If a song isn't insulting towards women (black women, especially) about selling crack or getting drunk at a club then it probably isn't likely to get a very warm welcome from this station or its listeners. Thankfully, B.O.B. has managed to slip through the cracks with his hit single "Nothin' On You". I hope this man is given the opportunity to stay in the limelight and grow as an artist, because this is exactly what the music industry is in need of.

By the time B.O.B. finished his set it was noticeable that the crowds were growing anxious after a long day of standing in the sun in anticipation of headliner Plies. I myself was a mere seconds away from being vomited on by a girl who smashed into me on her way to the ground as she fainted. There were several such incidents just by where I was so I can only imagine what the rest of the park must have been like. It was obvious to me that much of the crowd were more familiar with a club atmosphere than that of a concert and completely out of their element. Especially the women in attendance who seemed more concerned with pulling each other's hair out and brawling like men then they were with having a good time. A theme that would be revisited on several occasions later in the evening.

As dusk approached, the artist I had anticipated seeing the most, Damian Jr Gong Marley came to the stage. Booked last minute as a replacement to dance hall artist Sean Paul, I considered this a huge upgrade. His father Bob (you may have heard of him) is one of the few musicians I can honestly say with a straight face has my utmost respect so it was an honor to say the least to be able to witness his seed carrying on his legacy with thought-provoking yet infectious grooves while carving his own niche. Damian really rocked the crowd, blending his set with his own songs and a few of his father's. I will say this, Damian doesn't look and sound just like his father, but when you are within feet of the stage it is pretty damn spooky how closely they resemble one another. He rounded out his performance with his two biggest songs to date, Road To Zion which sounds amazing live and the song I wish all hip hop sounded like, Welcome To Jam Rock.

Finally at around 8, headliner Plies was greeted by a raucous crowd of deranged women (if you want to call them that) and blood-thirsty teenage girls. In nearly every direction there were females pushing and pulling, cursing and fighting. It was pandemonium. He performed all of hit singles "Becky", "Medicine", "Buddies" and about a half dozen others before being joined on stage by label mate, Fella. About a half hour in, Plies noticed a young girl with a sign that said it was her birthday. He pulls her out of the audience, gives her the huge chain from around his neck plus his bracelet, then asked her what she wants for her birthday and hands her ten thousand dollars. I'm still trying to figure out how this guy turns on a profit on his shows just handing stuff out like that.

Anyways, all in all, Wild Splash 2010 was an amazing time, and most importantly, a revelation for what mainstream hip-hop should look and sound like. When I turn it on 94.1 with the exception of Old School Lunch and The Sunday Session, every hour is just a repeat of the same songs by the same artists doing basically the same whack style of music (if you want to call it that). On the flipside, Wild Splash, whether intentionally or not, was a colorful showcase of how diverse this hip-hop culture actually is. There is no reason the likes of The New Boyz and Trina cannot be played in the same hour along side Damian Marley and B.O.B. (B.O.B.'s more conscious stuff anyway).

Although I will probably remain an opponent of the station, as long as they continue to put on shows like this, I will be there. For a $22 ticket you just cannot find a better deal, especially when it comes with all the eye candy and second-hand smoke you can shake a stick at.

"Lampin' @ The 6th Borough" is ©2010 by John Miller.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.