Jane Metlikovec joined the diamantes and baseball caps to get the lowdown on Melbourne’s biggest gangsta show Supafest.
A quick scan around Melbourne Showgrounds last night reaffirms why rap, RnB and hip hop are now among the biggest contemporary pop culture money spinners throughout the world.
Sure it’s about the music- fast rhymes and pounding drum and bass- but for the fans it’s more a way of life.
Fast cars, flashy movie star friends and dirty cash are where it’s at in the dreamworld of the 12,000+ fans gathered at the Showgrounds to pay homage to their international heroes who were behind the mass of cropped tops, fake diamonds and knee-high stiletto boots in the crowd.
These artists are their friends- the people they turn to in tough times, who they dance to in the good.
And those friends, otherwise known as Akon, Kelly Rowland, Jay Sean, Pitbull, Sean Paul and Eve, didn’t disappoint.
Australian up-comer Chris Sorbello got the early evening crowd warmed up with her new Ministry of Sound single So Lonely, setting the stage for diva #1 Eve.
The US rapper – who looked a little different under flowing brown locks instead of her usual cropped do- had the crowd jumping to her Gwen Stefani collaboration Let Me Blow Ya Mind.
Then it was time for the first main event- UK rapper Jay Sean, complete with silky white tracksuit top, black sunglasses and diamonds flashing from every other available space on his body.
Multi-million selling smash hit Do You Remember launched the set- but in a rather underwhelming way.
The sound was way off, low and muffled and if one wasn’t up close enough, they could be forgiven for thinking that perhaps Jay Sean wasn’t singing at all.
But he settled in, the sound was flattened out and he rose to his own through mega smash-hit Down.
Jamaican reggae star Sean Paul was next, doing his best to get the words to Get Busy and Temperature out above the hooting whistles and bongo drums. A highlight was his slip into Beyonce’s Baby Boy- the number #1 single he lent his rap skills to.
Then came Pitbull- the US rapper bursting onto stage, regulation black suit, skinny tie, sunglasses and diamonds.
But instead of just looking the part- Pitbull actually was.
His sound was loud and clear from the get-go, his musicians tight and his energy high. In under a minute, Pitbull had out-performed all others who had graced the stage before him- as evidenced by the first of many heaving jumps in the VIP ‘Bling Ring’ at the front of the stage.
His hit Hotel Room Service was the song of the night- until superstar diva Kelly Rowland robbed him of that title minutes later.
She sleeked onto the stage - skin-tight black cat-suit, sequined and bejewelled, red boots and flowing brown hair – in a swirl of dancers and sprung into hit single Work.
Rowland took a quick breath, said a short hello to the crowd and then pulled the most unlikely card of the night.
Where most solo artists stray away from playing hits from groups past, Rowland told her fans they should be acknowledged for the 10 years of support they had shown her world-renowned girl group Destiny’s Child, and promptly launched into an extended medley.
Bugaboo; Bills, Bills, Bills; Say My Name; Jumpin Jumpin; Bootylicious and Independent Women Part 1, had the crowd in a high-pitched scream, before Rowland hit the biggest note of the night with Survivor.
That lasted only a few moments until Rowland farewelled the stage with her current David Guetta dancehall smash When Love Takes Over.
With the crowd reasonably glammed out, it was time to turn the gansta on.
Enter showpony superstar rapper Akon to a backdrop of a Hollywood-esque gansta movie clip - complete with guns, guns, cash, car chase, guns- and a blast of fireworks.
Then there was the man himself- the suit jacket, shirt, sunglasses and shining bling (which is fair enough in this case as Akon actually does own a South African diamond mine- so there’s plenty to go around).
A few warm-up tunes, before heading into Sorry, Blame It On Me and the Grammy-nominated Smack That, and the fans had got what they hade paid for.
There were a few blips along the way- an hour long-wait to get into the venue, and a stage running an hour behind schedule, but overall Supafest has the right idea and commitment to cementing itself as the night-of-nights for Australia’s rap faithful.