WEST HOLLYWOOD, California — The movie "Hustle & Flow" may take place in Memphis, Tennessee, but its soundtrack is more like the United South of America.
Monday night, an all-star Dirty South crew tore up the stage at the House of Blues on Sunset Strip to celebrate the release of the film's soundtrack. "Hustle & Flow" is the story of a pimp aspiring to become a rapper — but on this night, we got bona-fide stars.
The show started just after 10 p.m. with the evening's host, Fat Man Scoop (a New York DJ who's become the go-to party guy for the likes of Mariah and Missy), getting the crowd hyped with his trademark call-and-response before newcomers Boyz N Da Hood took the stage. After a brief two-song set, they passed the mic to Webbie, another new artist from the soundtrack, who brought out Houston OG Bun B and the self-proclaimed Baddest Bitch (a.k.a. Trina) for their track, which is called (not surprisingly) "Bad Bitch." Trina won loud applause from the men in the crowd, despite her odd, ice capades-esque outfit and the fact that she didn't do any of her hot solo tracks.
The crowd had been pretty chill up to that point — but soon they got chopped and screwed. Paul Wall served up "Sittin' Sidewayz," which he ended with a "Free Pimp C!" chant in honor of the incarcerated H-Town rapper. The champ then made room — lots of room — for Mike Jones and the six-and-a-half-foot-tall Slim Thug to jump off "Still Tippin'." Then Jones took the mic for "Back Then" — the L.A. crowd seemed to know every word, especially that phone number.
Scoop kept the crowd hype, but he didn't have to stretch for long: Five minutes later, it was time for some bayou music as New Orleans' own Juvenile took the stage with his UTP crew. He did his "Hustle & Flow" soundtrack song, "Booty Language," as well as his strip-club classics, "Back That Azz Up" and "Slow Motion." He wouldn't properly rep his section of the South without doing "Nolia Clap," but was clear to distance himself from his old Cash Money crew. "F--- Baby/ He don't pay" was repeated many times as Juvenile's new label heads, Warner Music's Lyor Cohen and Kevin Liles, looked on from the balcony.
Atlanta hit the stage at 11:30 as Lil Jon, Lil Scrappy and Trillville served up their hits "Neva Eva," "Some Cut" and "No Problem," where Scrappy literally had to be held back from getting dragged into the front row of girls. Jon slowed it down for his verse from "Lovers & Friends," but the King of Crunk had to bring it back up with Lil Scrappy on "What You Gon' Do." Then, for the Latinos in the house, Jon brought out reggaeton star Pitbull to do his latest hit, "Toma."
Sitting in the balcony watching the show were Talib Kweli and Fat Joe, and Joey Crack beckoned to the stage by the comparably sized Fat Man Scoop. Joe reluctantly obliged and did one verse of "Lean Back" for the hyped crowd. He then gave the mic to Trina to announce the night's headliner: She screamed, "Bring 'em out! Bring 'em out!" and T.I. emerged. Wearing his signature all-white gear, T.I. took this opportunity to showcase a lot of new material and feature his new group, P$C. They did the soundtrack cuts "Murder Game" and "I'm a King," which brought Lil Scrappy and Lil Jon back out onstage. He finally capped off the night with his back-to-back hits "Bring Em Out" and "You Don't Know Me."
If a Whitman's Sampler of the finest Southern hip-hop is your thing, then this was the Monday night to be out on the Strip.
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