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— by Shaheem Reid

Respect the DJ, love the DJ: That was the sentiment in Puerto Rico last weekend at the seventh annual Mixshow Power Summit convention, an annual meeting of DJs, MCs, record-label folk and other music-industry dwellers. PR was filled with the spirit of Big Pun, the smoke of Snoop Dogg and music from some of the world's most well-known DJs and MCs — as well as newcomers trying to get on.

Lil Jon, Fat Joe, Chingy, T.I., Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, Game, Trick Daddy, the LOX, Xzibit, Lil' Flip, Shawnna, Swizz Beatz and the king of reggaeton, Tego Calderon, were just a few of the big names who headed down to a resort called the Paradisus in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, to indulge in five days of events that showcased new music and talent and paid homage to classic spinners — there was even a luncheon honoring Grandmaster Flash.

Then again, there were also some cats who just wanted to party in paradise.

  Swizz Beatz, Snoop, more Mixshow Power Summit photos
"We're here for the three Ws: women, weather and the water," Nick Cannon, flanked by Trick Daddy, said with a chuckle Friday as he stood outside the Full Surface listening party where Swizz Beatz was on the turntables, spinning new records from his artists Cassidy, Mashonda and Yung Wun.

"It's one of the best conventions I've been to," Queen Latifah said Thursday during a premiere of her new film, "Taxi." "Everybody's in one central location on a beautiful island. Everybody's hustling, politicking and making business deals."

"I'm from the Bronx, the birthplace of hip-hop, so I know how important the DJs are," Fat Joe said Thursday at a listening session for his February release, Things of That Nature. "This [convention] is actually the reason I started flying," the formerly airplane-phobic MC continued, "because they keep holding it in Puerto Rico. I'm the head Puerto Rican in charge, so you know I wouldn't miss this over my dead body."

But despite all the sun and fun, everyone knew the real reason to be there. "If it wasn't for the DJs, none of us [rappers] would be shhhhhhhhh, Pitbull said. "They're the gateway to our music, and therefore, we're here to honor them."

"All the DJs from across the country are showing respect to one another," DJ Red Alert said. "It doesn't matter if this is your first year or your 30th, we're all together as a link. That's why we have MPS."

Lil Jon looks on
And Lil Jon made sure the week started off crunk-style. TVT, his record company, held a showcase Wednesday at the Sauza Club Arena with Jacki-O, the Ying Yang Twins and Pitbull joining Jon and his East Side Boyz on the bill.

The festivities started off with Jacki-O dropping some of her outlandish sex raps before being joined by lovable loudmouths the Ying Yangs for "Fine." "That bitch is fine!" the musical siblings holla'ed before taking over with their own set. Much how Jacki's set segued into the Ying Yang's with a guest appearance, Lil Jon and the East Side Boyz took over the primary mic duties from the Twins after they came to help out on "Salt Shaker."

With Jon and company performing "Get Low," fans in the crowd started to get buck wild, throwing them elbows in an old-fashioned club brawl. At one point, the venue started looking like the bar scene in Jon's "We Don't Give a F---" video, as some of the fighting clubgoers actually started beating down the security guards.

  "The energy level is so high ... I don't know what the hell happened."
  - Lil Jon on the riot
"He got knocked the f--- out!," Ying Yang member D-Roc said back in the dressing room, after things had calmed down. "He fallen and he can't get up!"

"I done been to shows where n---as get their brains stomped," Jon said. "The energy level is so high, I guess some n---as don't know how to deal with it. I don't know what the hell happened."

Luckily, the most anticipated fighting of the convention had nothing to do with violence, and kept everyone in tune with the essence of the culture. New York underground organization the Fight Klub staged a battle session Friday night between notorious verbal pugilists Shells, Ruff Ryders' Jin, Wreckonize and the heavily favored Jae Millz.

"I wanna see that battle," said producer Alchemist of the event he was most looking forward to. "There's guys in there who I know can definitely get down on the mic."

There was something beautifully barbaric about standing in a ballroom with dozens of other hip-hop lovers, listening intently as the four MCs went round for round with their bars of death. At any given second, a wack line could cost you momentum and earn you boos, or a superior blending of words could make everyone cheer "Fight klub! Fight klub!" — or, even better, incite the crowd throw their hand towels (hey, it was 95 degrees every day in PR: everybody carries one) into the mock ring where the gladiators were standing, signaling that your opponent should call it quits.

Even though both MCs were inconsistent, Shells was able to upset Millz in the first round, while Jin easily squashed MTV battle champ Wreckonize. In the end, Jin and Shells went toe-to-toe.

"Y'all think he's hot cause he makes y'all laugh/ Jin's one of the reasons hip-hop is trash," Shells rhymed. "I always knew something about Jin was bogus/ His first single y'all heard, Wyclef wrote it ... Ruff Ryders ain't been poppin' since Eve left."

Jin was too much, though, using some of Shells' own lines against him and giving props to a celebrity fan in the crowd.

  Fight Klub: Jin vs. Shells
" 'Learn Chinese' didn't blow, you're right/ But in a couple of years, I should have a few hits/ And you're correct, Eve did leave, so you interested?/ Ruff Ryders needs a new bitch/ My man right here came to put you to shame/ And you know he knew who I was, 'cause Game recognize game."

Even though the Mixshow Power Summit is dedicated to the DJs — the event capped with an awards dinner, where Clinton Sparks won Mixshow DJ of the Year — it has also proven to be a valuable showcase tool for rappers on the rise. A couple of years ago, 50 Cent took advantage of the event to introduce DJs from areas outside of New York to a little ditty called "Wanksta." Almost instantly, he was the most anticipated MC in the world.

Other MCs, such as Slim Thug, Paul Wall, Chamillionaire and Stat Quo, have also reaped the benefits of coming to the MPS.

"I credit this conference with me getting a deal," said Shady/ Aftermath recording artist Stat Quo, who made an impact at last year's MPS. "Even though I was [already] dealing with [Dr.] Dre, Eminem got wind of me through this conference, so I'll always have love for it and recognize the importance of it. If you trying to do music and you ain't here, go get another job."

"If you in the music business, this is where you need to be."
"If you in the music business, this is where you need to be," concurred Star Trak signee Slim Thug. "You got DJs from not only all around America, but from all around the world. Last year I was in the back, just looking — this year I'm gonna be onstage, rocking."

This year, the most anticipated of the new MCs was G-Unit's Game. The DJs who got a sneak peek of his record "Higher" were giving it their cosign and although the pressure was on for the Compton native's performance at the Interscope/ Geffen/ A&M showcase Friday night, the MC was calm and confident that afternoon.

"I seen some fly mamis here, but I'm ready to go home and finish the album and just grind," Game said, sitting on a couch in the hotel, where you could hear the music from the reggaeton showcase blasting several yards away. "The performance tonight is going down. The Game — his first show, he's gonna rock. We gonna put it down."

Game, who was backed by DJ Quik on the turntables, showed he was still a little rough around the edges, but his song's energy still was enough to have a section of DJs in the Arena club yelling "Compton!" and "West Coast!" However, the highlight of the night came from a Left Coaster from the other side of town: Long Beach's Snoop Dogg.

  Snoop Dogg feat. Pharrell
"Drop It Like It's Hot"
R&G: Rhythm & Gangsta, The Masterpiece
(Interscope)
The certified P.I.M.P. performed with a live band, his constantly dancing uncle June Bug, Bishop Don Juan (who was wearing more green than a leprechaun), girls in white shorts and skin-tight tops, topless women in G-strings — and Pharrell Williams.

The slim-and-trim freestyler dug into his doggy bagg and performed most of the hits from his catalog — including "Gin and Juice," "Who Am I (What's My Name)?" and "From Tha Chuuuch to Da Palace" — many of which namechecked him throughout the record.

But when Pharrell joined him for their new single, it felt like the overheated MPS had found its theme song. "When the pimp's in the crib, ma/ Drop like it's hot, drop it like it's hot, drop it like it's hot/ When the pigs try to get at you/ Park it like it's hot, park it like it's hot, park it like it's hot."




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