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Juelz Santana, a priceless baby sneaker, and one tricked-out Hummer


Too many $6 beers for Marty McSleep.


Remy Ma is conceited for a reason.


Yes, it's terrible photo, but it's a terrible photo of Juelz and Remy Ma.
Above photos by Cami



Good Juelz Santana photo by Sidney Lo


And that giant Hummer. See those tail lights? They're TV screens.

Damn, what a Saturday. Spent nine hours meandering around the Connecticut Expo Center for the Funkmaster Flex Custom Car and Bike Show. Admittedly, we're not much up on cars, if only because ours is dirty, unreliable, and filled with smelly strangers. We have however studied crazy sneakers, and so we tagged along for the International Sneaker Battle with ISB judges Jeff Cavalho, who co-hosts a sneaker podcast called Weeklydrop, and Lori Lobenstine, who runs the Web site FemaleSneakerFiend.com.

Given the ISB’s wardrobe-warfare billing, we’d imagined something heated and contentious, contenders so nervous they could puke — like Eight Mile, with shoes instead of freestyles and the crowd pelting losers with those ugly-ass Miss Piggy Adidas. That wasn’t the case in Hartford, where eight competitors manned their booths like ship captains, ready for a handful of roving judges like Cavalho, Lobenstine, and some guy named Rob Heppler (jk, Rob) to critique their collections. A 20-year-old Bridgeport father, Mandela Samuel, brought his original yellowed and cracked baby Jordans from 1985. Another exhibitor, 31-year-old Brian Spar, runs a sneaker Web site called Gourmet Kickz, so his booth was restaurant-themed: two high-heeled waitresses holding sneakers, little waiter statues holding sneakers, and the stubborn insistence to identify himself only as "The Chef" in person.


The Chef's waitress serves up a custom Air Force 1
photo by Matt Teuten


Hip-hop celebs were only required to grace the temporarily installed stage for one song a piece, including Remy Ma who led everybody in "Conceited (There's Something About Remy)" and Juelz Santana who knocked out “There It Go (The Whistle Song).” This being a music blog, we'd like to tell something about their performances, but with all due respect, this was about cameo obligation, not inspiration. All in all, nearly $20,000 was awarded from the Funkmaster Flex Custom Car and Bike Show and the International Sneaker Battle, one upcoming episode of the Weeklydrop podcast recorded, one bro-job threatened, and one hilariously un-PC little person joke made.

Memorable moment 1: Meeting Funkmaster Flex. The second hand we shook that day was Flex's. No shit. Before the show opened to the public, Mike the Executive, a sound engineer at Hot 97 who's an all-around swell dude and the 22-year-old organizer of the Flex-sponsored International Sneaker Battle, brought the “evangelist of hip-hop car culture,” over to meet Weeklydrop co-host Rob Heppler. We happened to be standing beside Hepdog, so we got a nice little introduction to Flex himself. Admittedly surreal, given that there were giant Flex photos plastered all over and we'd just finished reading that feverishly loved/hated piece on Hot 97 in the New Yorker.

Later, Heppler and Cavalho interviewed Flex for Weeklydrop. Apparently Heppler listened to Flex reel off a list of hip-hop A-listers when answering a question and said, "You dropped something." Flex looked down and said "Huh?" To which Heppler cracked, "Those names."

Memorable moment 2: Babymama drama. Approximate quote heard from the stage. "Ladies, if you're a babymama and you got your baby here and you got a picture of the baby's original father, bring it up onstage and we'll give you a prize."


Weeklydrop crew Jeff Cavalho and Rob Heppler interviews Juelz Santana
(Hot 97's Mike the Executive in the back) Cami took this.


Memorable moment 3: the VIP room. Ended up in the VIP area, again thanks to Mike the Executive, who's legal cognomen is Daurio in case you're in the last-name business. We were there in various states of air-conditionering, Amsteling, and buffet-plating, with Tego Calderon sitting in one corner and Sequioa-girthed bodyguards lumbering around everywhere else. One thick photographer roved around with a Vibe press badge, which seemed impressive until Mike pointed out that the dude's pass was dated 2004.

Then Juelz Santana walked in and sat down by himself by the door. Heppler recognized him, whispered to Cavalho about interviewing the Dipset phenom, then mustered up every inch of his ex-con appeal to approach Mr. Santana for an audio conversation. Juelz came over kindly, talked with them at our table, while sneakerhead photog Sidney Lo snapped pictures. During their conversation, Cam'Ron actually stopped in, blinged-out with a huge working traffic light around his neck, and big-upped his Dipset dog.

Since Santana was being interviewed about his style, he pointed out his gem-encrusted JS belt-buckle for everyone at the table to admire. "I'm gonna take a picture of your belt buckle," warned Lo. "But no homo!"


That's Sidney's hand on the right, pointing at Juelz's crotch. But no homo.
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