PERFORMANCE WORLD CUSTOM CAR & TRUCK SHOW hosted by FUNKMASTER FLEX at the International Centre (6900 Airport Road), Friday to Sunday (March 10-12). $18, youth (6-12) $5, children under five free. www.performanceworldcarshow.com. Rating: NNNNN
As the enthusiastic host of Spike TV's Ride With FunkMaster Flex celebrity car show, hiphop's gearhead godfather shows off so many insane sets of wheels - everything from Wyclef Jean's red Hummer H2 equipped with a shark-infested 500-litre saltwater aquarium to Cedric the Entertainer's tricked-out golf cart - it's easy to forget that the popular Hot 97 radio personality also happens to be one of the most influential radio jocks in hiphop. As a reminder, he's just released his fifth mixtape, the FunkMaster Flex CarShow Tour CD & DVD (KOCH) set.
You get some idea of the sort of chrome overload Flex has in store at the International Centre Friday through Sunday from the video footage of stoopidly souped-up vehicles of various vintage on the DVD portion of the package. It comes with a typically New York-heavy selection of window rattlers from A-list rappers 50 Cent, Mobb Deep, Nas, Cam'ron, Juelz Santana and Jadakiss along with some choice thuggery from rising stars Papoose, Jae Millz, Hell Rell and Maino.
Reports claiming that this will be Flex's last-ever mixtape seem a bit premature, especially if you recall that FunkMaster Flex Mixtape Vol. 3, which came out seven years ago, was subtitled The Final Chapter.
"I love music and I love cars, but I always need new projects to stimulate me," says Flex from his Manhattan office. "So after five major mix tape albums, I've definitely had enough of doing things on that commercial level. I'm finding there's more energy working on an independent level... and I'm getting a much better split at $6 per disc."
One of the intriguing things about the CarShow mix is that it's probably the only place where you'll find 50 Cent together with Nas and Lox-mates Jadakiss and Styles P. without venom being spit, if not fists flying. For the record, Fiddy officially declared war on Nas (along with Jadakiss, Fat Joe and many of their associates) with the track Piggy Bank from the Massacre album after Nas characterized his work as "fake shit" during a Central Park concert in 2004. It's doubtful whether anyone but Flex could've gotten the feuding MCs to sign onto a project knowing it would also feature their rivals.
"They know that with me it's always neutral ground. I just wouldn't let anybody say anything about any of the other artists involved, so it was all clean and clear. I definitely don't encourage the beef."
Although Flex's Team Baurtwell custom car club members like 50 Cent, Shaquille O'Neal, Tracy McGrady, DMX, Busta Rhymes, Ludacris, Missy Elliott and others typically stop by his car shows to talk tires and compare rims, there's no threat of any such celebrities stealing the spotlight from the more than 600 show cars and trucks on display (in addition to 250 exhibitors) at the International Centre. Unless, of course, k-os puts on a Gilligan hat and does a drive-by on his bicycle.
"This is the first show we're doing in Canada, so there aren't any celebrities planning on coming up for it, but if all goes well, maybe next year.
"I don't know if Fiddy can even get into Canada," he chuckles. "But one of his cars will be there, and we'll have a nice one from LL Cool J, too. As for myself, I'll have my red 2006 Mustang and my gold 71 Chevelle, which is pretty sweet, too. I think anyone who comes to the show is going to see some cool cars and have a great time."
The two cars Flex has in the show are, of course, just a tiny sampling of his impressive personal collection of vintage muscle cars produced between 1967 and 72, which includes two Torinos, six Chevelles, two Mustangs, two Camaros, a Nova, two Impalas, two Chargers, two Cutlasses, an El Camino and a GTO. And if his All Muscle With FunkMaster Flex show on ESPN2 and his new job with Ford go well, he'll likely need more garage space soon.
"I've actually just renewed my contract with Ford, so I'm now going to be involved in designing and marketing, too.
"I'm happy with all the deals I've signed - I'm surrounded by excellent brands. I've got my own toy line now with Hot Wheels, and my association with Castrol makes me the only African American to be endorsed by an oil company."