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Event: WLLD’s Wildsplash Venue: Coachman Park Location: Clearwater, FL Date: March 12th, 2005 Traditionally, traffic for Wild 98.7’s annual Wildplash at Coachman Park (1) is backed up miles away. 2005 is no exception. After a morning of bumper-to-bumper stop-and-go, the OZONE/CRUNK truck comes to a rest at a makeshift parking lot several blocks away from the park. Brooke Valentine (2) starts things off, and next up is Pitbull. People are still filtering into the park. Florida afternoons in early March are gorgeous. Clear blue sky, sun shining, but not too hot. Event organizers couldn’t have picked a better date (or a better caterer). Wildsplash performance lineups are typically strange, sandwiching acts like Capleton and The Roots between radio favorites like Pitbull and Mario. It makes for a huge, diverse audience, an odd 20,000 person melting pot of hoodrats, teenyboppers, and rastamen.

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After Pitbull’s set, Capleton launches into an extended rendition of reggae favorites. His nearly hour-long performance is either spectacular or boring, depending on who you ask. Still, he’s well-received, considering that the majority of the crowd isn’t familiar with his music. Capleton is followed by heartthrob Mario (3). The entire front row of 14-year-old girls is swooning and mouthing “I love you” as he performs his massive hit “U Should Let Me Love You” and his new single, “How Could You?”

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While Mario entertains fans backstage, The Roots (4, 5) naturally come through as the highlight of the day. Performing hip-hop songs with a live band is a difficult feat within itself, and The Roots are well-practiced. Along with their own hits (“You Got Me,” “Don’t Say Nuthin’”), they’ve made a career of covering other artists’ singles live (Destiny’s Child’s “Uh Oh,” Game’s “How We Do”). Their covers are so convincing, at times it’s difficult to recall who’s the original artist.

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The crowd is quiet for the first half of The Roots’ set. It’s been a long day, and they’re unfamiliar with the material. But by the second half, The Roots’ energy and superb showmanship has won them over (6). The Roots exit stage left to a loud ovation, but Black Thought looks pissed. “That crowd was whack,” he grumbles. Maybe the entire audience didn’t appreciate The Roots’ artistic set, but they certainly won over several new fans in the process. As Black Thought climbs down the steps, a teenage girl grabs him, screaming, “You’re better than 50! You’re better than Em! You’re better than all those muthafuckers! You’re my new favorite rapper!”

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After a long delay, the headliners Baby and Lil Wayne finally arrive on tour buses. Wayne runs through renditions of classic joints like “Tha Block is Hot” and “Way of Life” mixed with material from his new album, The Carter. After introducing his new artists Young City and his “pa” Baby, Wayne strips down (7) and drives the crowd into a frenzy with “Go DJ.” Everybody stayed amped til the very end.

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- JB & KG (Photos: JB & Luis Santana) OZONE APR 2005

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Ozone Mag #33 - Apr 2005  

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Ozone Mag #33 - Apr 2005  

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