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Review: Coolio, Slick Rick, Mims bring hot Labor Day parties to Tampa Bay

6

September

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I got to Shephard’s Beach Resort in Clearwater Beach at around 5 p.m. Sunday to photograph some party people in bikinis hanging out on Shephard’s private beach, even though the show was scheduled to begin at midnight. As I was working the crowd, who did I spy mingling with fans?

Coolio!

He was just hanging out mostly in the VIP area taking pics and flirting with the ladies who seemed to flock all over him. For being a rapper who hasn’t had a hit in years, he still seems to have lots of diehard fans, which really surprised me. People love this guy. I walked over to him and asked for a pic, he gladly posed and gave me a “rapper handshake.” He was a really nice guy. I was also surprised he didn’t have any pushy bodyguards or managers keeping people away from him — it was just him and a few friends.

Coolio eventually went back to his room and wasn’t spotted again until right before his performance, where he chatted it up with Slick Rick — but more about that later.

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Slick Rick was a bit more quiet and stayed mostly to himself. He didn’t seem to crave the attention that Coolio did. Slick Rick seemed more like a been-there-done-that type guy — he had nothing to prove, he was there to do his job and get out. He did pose for photos and sign vinyl records that DJs brought for him to sign and didn’t ignore anyone who approached him either. He was very friendly and had lots of bling around his neck, on his wrists and in his ears.

Rick got on stage and quickly ran through his songs with little enthusiasm, which was surprising to me. Now, there are times that I don’t really like a song or artist I hear on the radio, but when I meet them in person and see them perform live, I change my mind and often go out and buy their CD or download them from iTunes. Slick Rick was almost the opposite, and I didn’t want to think differently of this hip-hop legend, because I really love his music. I have never, in my 11 years of hip-hop photography, seen a rapper stand in one place with his hand in his pocket “performing.” It was hard to see. Although the crowd still loved him and sang along to his rhymes, I wasn’t impressed by his stage presence. Boring.

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After his set Coolio came to the backstage VIP area and chatted up with Slick Rick. It seemed like they were catching up on old times and seemed really glad to see each other. I was debating interrupting their powwow, but I knew I had to snap this photo! When was I ever going to have the oppurtunity to photograph these two hip-hop icons? I had to act fast so I politely asked for a photo and they gladly posed.

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That photo made my night.

After talking for a few minutes, Coolio and Slick Rick exchanged goodbyes and Coolio approached the stage. Just then he stopped, told the DJ to hang on and took off like a bullet and ran back to his hotel room! He forgot his Coolio bling microphone cover!

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He returned a few minutes later, took the mic holder out of a black bag and put it on his mic and jumped onstage.

Coolio performed a bunch of songs with his two nephews, including one playing a saxophone; it was pretty good. Then, of course, in between songs, Coolio interacted with fans and dropped “words of wisdom.” Then in an odd moment he brought up four women from the crowd to do some booty shaking while singing a song about him liking women. He ended the song proclaiming that he loves women despite rumors otherwise.

Coolio closed the show with his most famous song, Gangsta’s Paradise, then after taking a bow he ran behind the DJ booth, emptied his pockets, took off his jewelry and crowd surfed! I don’t think the crowd was ready for a drenched-in-sweat Coolio raining down sweat on their heads. All I can say is I was glad I was photographing it happening and not under him!

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BONUS MINI-REVIEW: Mims at Jackson’s Bistro in Tampa

Mims performing live at Jackson’s was a surprise to me, because it’s not really known as a hip-hop spot, but the crowd absolutely loved him. Lots of people packed Jackson’s to hear Mims perform. He returned the love by hanging out and taking photos with any and everybody who asked. He was extremely friendly and seemed to really love the vibe of the crowd.

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— Review/photos by Luis Santana, tbt*. Check out more photos here.

[Last modified: Tuesday, September 6, 2011 10:54am]

    

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