The viral sensation brings Ja Rule, Lil Kim and Mase together for a performance on Jan. 29.
Three legendary hip-hop acts will join DJ Cassidy for the first-ever live concert version of his viral sensation “Pass The Mic” at the Pegasus World Cup, the star-studded horse racing event at Miami-adjacent Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Florida.
Ja Rule, Lil Kim, Mase, surprise guests, and host DJ Cassidy, will pass the mic from performer to performer, rapping their iconic songs at the premiere of the trackside Carousel Club on Jan. 29. A special stage will be constructed with a Hollywood Squares-style layout built by Kat Bell of Argyle Design. The outdoor venue, developed in collaboration with Breakwater Hospitality Group — the group behind Miami River-side event space The Wharf — features a 19th-century carousel and bungalow-chic decor.
“Ja, Kim and Mase have some of the greatest party records of all time. They define the eras in which they debuted and they are hip-hop heroes around the world,” Cassidy tells The Hollywood Reporter. “When I called them, it was a very quick conversation. ‘I’m taking ‘Pass The Mic’ to the stage for the first time at this event and I need you to take part.’ And their answer was, of course, ‘yes.’”
A live concert audience is the next logical step for the “Pass The Mic” phenomenon. “It has always been about the biggest records, the biggest artists and the biggest lineups, but all presented in an intimate way,” says Cassidy of the concept.
For the celebrity-favored deejay, the early days of the pandemic planted a seed of innovation that gave him license to transform the way music was experienced at home.
“In April 2020, I was lying on my couch FaceTiming with my friend and mentor Verdine White of Earth Wind & Fire and he was lying on his couch wearing red silk pajamas,” says Cassidy. “His song “That’s The Way Of The World,” came on coincidentally, in the background, very low. He hears it and starts singing along casually, like it’s not a big deal. ‘Hearts of fire creates love desire.’ I got a chill down my spine. I said to myself, ‘How cool is this, I’m not only friends with so many of my musical heroes, but that I have the privilege of experiencing moments like this.’ With everything going on in the world right now, it would be so amazing if I could give this feeling to other people.”
Working with his sound editor, through a concoction of webcams, and apps, they came up with a roadmap for a virtual show, where artists would sing along to their songs that Cassidy dropped on the turntables. It debuted in July 2020.
“I went so hard at promoting it for seven days, that roughly 10,000 people tuned in to the live premiere,” he says. Cassidy did three episodes of “Pass The Mic” online and then partnered with BET for a prime-time television special, which aired following the 2020 Soul Train Awards. Then, he was invited to take the concept to Joe Biden’s and Kamala Harris’ Inauguration festivities, with a “Pass The Mic” segment on the “Parade Across America” and one “Pass The Mic” segment on the “Celebrating America” concert. Additional BET specials followed in 2021. After an impromptu “Pass The Mic” live performance happened at his birthday party in June at The Polo Lounge, Cassidy knew the next steps.
“It was an unexpected serendipitous precursor to ‘Pass The Mic’ live — it was completely unplanned. I merely invited a dozen artists who had been on the show who are my friends,” says Cassidy of his birthday party. “It’s a celebration of the music at its core. I’m just the messenger, I have very little to do with it. To receive messages from artists about how much they love the show, and how much they would love to take part is just the greatest of all honors.”
Since the show began, more than 200 artists including Nile Rodgers, Chaka Khan, Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight, Bobby Brown, Bell Biv DeVoe, Boyz II Men, Run DMC, LL Cool J, Salt-N-Pepa, Missy Elliot, Wyclef Jean, Nelly, Debbie Harry and Fab 5 Freddy have all passed the mic.
“I never imagined that over one million people would tune in every time ‘Pass The Mic’ aired on BET; nor did I ever imagine the series would get 85 million views online,” says the trendsetter, who has also performed for President Barack Obama’s inaugurations, as well as at his 50th birthday party, and First Lady Michelle Obama’s 50th. He also was the man behind the music at Jennifer Lopez’s 40th and 50th birthdays, as well as Jay Z and Beyoncé’s wedding.
“The natural progression was to “Pass The Mic” in front of a live audience and to kick it off at Pegasus World Cup. Whether you’re a horse fanatic, or simply a fan of the superfly, it’s the place to be. The guest list is chic, the wardrobes are chic, and yes, the performances are, too.”
The vibe of the Pegasus World Cup and the design of the Carousel Club match his own signature resort look — which he details as a boater hat, vintage brooches and 24-karat gold microphone — with the venue featuring palm trees, pink velvet, gold and “an Old World elegance with a 2022 swag,” he says.
“It was clear that the entire venue was like a manifestation of my living room,” says Cassidy, who has upcoming BET specials in February and June as well as more live shows planned. “At the end of the day, it’s about celebrating the voices that shape the world.”
And while the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational and the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational will be broadcast live that Saturday on NBC from 4:30 to 6 p.m. E.T., what viewers won’t see is the blow-out display of Miami’s top hospitality attractions pre, during and post race. At the trackside Carousel Club, E11EVEN Nightclub Miami will host VIPs. H. Wood Group’s Delilah supper club (opening in Miami this fall joining locations in West Hollywood and Las Vegas) will host a pop-up in the Flamingo Room. And the Faena Live cabaret show Tryst will perform for the first time outside its Faena Miami hotel theater. Postmodern Jukebox burlesque queen Ariana Savalas, daughter of actor Telly Savalas, headlines the production created by Alan Faena in collaboration with Quixotic.
Run by 1/ST, the group behind Gulfstream Park and California’s Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields, Pegasus proffers a modern fashion-forward aesthetic — unlike the more traditional Triple Crown — and a big celebrity guest list. The Pegasus World Cup, launched in 2017, branded itself as “America’s Richest Horse Race” attracting names such as Jennifer Lopez, Alex Rodriguez, Lenny Kravitz, Pharrell Williams, Usher, Olivia Culpo, Vanessa Hudgens and Vin Diesel. Past post-race performances have included Nelly & T-Pain, Snoop Dogg and Mark Ronson, and Post Malone and Thomas Rhett.
On the A-list equine line-up, the Pegasus World Cup Championship has welcomed California Chrome, two-time American Horse of the Year (2014 and 2016) and Pegasus World Cup Invitational runner-up (2017); Gun Runner, American Horse of the Year (2017) and Pegasus World Cup Invitational winner (2018), ridden by Florent Geroux; Mucho Gusto, 2020 Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational winner, ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr.; and Knicks Go, 2021 Pegasus World Cup Invitational winner, ridden by Joel Rosario.
Baccarat will return this year as the official trophy purveyor. The sculptures, created by Allison Hawkes — made in clear and black — originate from a single block of crystal. Cut by a ‘meilleur ouvrier de France’ for 90 hours, the material reveals the muscles of a prancing thoroughbred. The Clear Pegasus, valued at $34,500, will be presented to the winner of the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational. The Black Pegasus, valued at $42,500, will be presented to the winner of the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational.