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Review: Rick Ross hustles deep into the night at Temple Lounge

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(This is the 28th entry in Soundcheck's summer concert series, The 50-50 Club. For previous entries, click here.)

The dulcet tones of A-Trak were still ringing in my ears when I shimmied down Seventh Avenue Sunday night to check out Rick Ross at Temple Lounge.

Covering this show was a huge gamble on my part, for a number of reasons. But none more so than the fact that I might get shot.

Rick Ross, you see, likes to beef with people*. He especially likes to beef with 50 Cent, a rapper who knows a thing or two about violent shootings. His stage name comes from one of America's most notorious drug lords, and his look and gestalt borrow liberally from noted beefer-brawlers Suge Knight and Kimbo Slice, two men with whom no rational man should ever want to beef. Throw in the fact that Ross secretly used to be a prison guard in Dade County, and probably made enemies with a few violent criminals along the way, and you have a recipe for fresh Beef-a-Roni with a side of fresh hollow-points.

But so far this summer, I've survived metal at the Mug, jam night at Yeoman's Road and 3 Doors Down at Tropicana Field. Surely I wasn't about to let a little hip-hop beefage keep me from a late-night rendevous with Miami's most hardcore rap boss.

Right?

I got to Temple Lounge, a dark, incredibly smoky hip-hop club near the east end of the Seventh strip at about 1:20 a.m. The bouncer asked if I was there to see Ross, and I said I was.

And then I asked (somewhat stupidly, in retrospect): "Has he already gone on?"

"Uh, no," the bouncer chortled.

Now, I am not a regular at Temple, so I think I can be forgiven for not knowing precisely when its various events tend to get started. My thinking was, hey, it's almost 1:30 on a Sunday night, maybe, just maybe, I missed the show.

But oh, no. The concert hadn't even started. In fact, Rick Ross wouldn't go onstage for another hour. And during that time, the fans (a few hundred in all, definitely more than at A-Trak) acted just like any other crowd at a concert where the artist is taking too long to go onstage. They stood around, they sipped drinks, they stared at the DJs, they looked impatient.

When Ross finally came on following a short but pretty nice set by singer Masspike Miles, a signee to Ross' Maybach Music Group, he was wearing a wide-open white shirt and a Memphis Tigers cap. He sauntered back and forth across the stage with an almost jolly smile on his beard.

I must confess, I'm not intimately familiar with the bulk of Ross' fine rapwork, but the audience sure was. When Ross dropped head-bobbing bombs like Push It, Usual SuspectsValley of Death and Money Make Me Come**, fans started rapping along to every word. His crew, Masspike Miles and the Carol City Cartel, were wildly energetic.

One problem with live hip-hop in general, I've found, is that all too often, some of the best songs cut out after just a few bars. I suppose this is by necessity -- it's not like T-Pain can accompany every single rapper on tour -- but what ends up happening is, most of the songs only last about two minutes. At this concert, almost every song cut out abruptly with a noise effect that sounded like smashing glass, and a breathy voice that hissed "Tampa!" or "Temple!" or something like that. It got old.

At a certain point in the night***, I stopped trying to keep track of every single Ross performed. At that late hour, to my weary ears, the set was starting to feel a little repetitive. But Ross did do my favorite song of his, Hustlin'****, which was great. And I made it home without any new torso holes, which is always a plus in my book.

On the whole, this was a decent, pretty fun show, even if it didn't end until crazy late. Ross might have sleep-jogged through a few songs (for what it's worth, I did spot him smoking at least three blunts during the hourlong set), but the man can certainly command a mic when he wants to, I'll give him that.

However, I had one major problem -- a beef, if you will -- with this concert.

My ticket cost $40.

Yes. Forty dollars. Two Jacksons. From my wallet to Rick Ross'.

Now, I've paid some outlandish ticket prices in my day, for artists across all genres*****, but $40 to see Rick Ross perform for an hour at 2:20 a.m. on a Sunday night/Monday morning seems particularly egregious. Subtract purchase fees, and you could buy a ticket to see Coldplay, Green Day, Snoop Dogg, U2, Kenny Chesney or the Killers -- all of whom are coming to Tampa Bay in the next few months -- for under $40.

Such highway robbery will not stand.

So, Mr. Ross, I'd like to extend a formal invitation to have a beef with you, on the premise that your concert ticket prices are too high. You may RSVB (literally, "respondez, s'il vouz bouef") to soundcheck@tampabay.com with your response. I look forward to beefing with you.

Until then: You are wack. And you owe me $40.

Next up in The 50-50 Club: Masik, June 9 at the Salvador Dali Museum, St. Petersburg.

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

* To be fair, I guess I can't definitively say that Rick Ross "likes" to beef with people. I can't pretend to know what the man writes in his diary. Maybe he actually hates beefing, but is just too embarrassed to admit it. Maybe all he wants is to introduce 50 Cent to the REAL Rick Ross, so they can hang out together and go rollerblading and stuff.

** You think that's bad? At several points during the show, the crew tossed out Maybach Music T-shirts that read, "Pu$$ies don't get pu$$y." Cla$$y.

*** That point would be 3:15 a.m. Yes, this concert ended after last call, and yes, the house lights were on by the end.

**** Okay, fine, I only know this song because it was sampled in Girl Talk's Digital Hustlin'. But still: I sang along, and it was awesome.

***** One of my least favorite ticket rip-offs ever was paying $40 to see the White Stripes at the USF Sun Dome in 2003. That was a $30 concert at most.

[Last modified: Monday, July 6, 2009 3:54pm]

    

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