Music of Miami

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The music of Miami is a diverse and important field in the world of music. The Greater Miami area has long been a hub for diverse musical genres. For example, South Florida has been a hub for Southern Rap. Miami, in particular, is a "hub" for Latin Music in the United States.[1] Miami bass (also known as booty music), a prominent hip-hop genre in the late 1980s and early 1990s, got its start in Miami; Luther 'Luke Skyywalker' Campbell and his 2 Live Crew were among the more prominent Miami Bass acts, largely because of an obscenity scandal fomented by Broward County, Florida Sheriff Nick Navarro.[2] Moreover, although not a South Florida native, Jimmy Buffett rose to prominence after moving to Key West, Florida and has long been associated with the "South Florida lifestyle". Other notable South Florida-based musical performers include Gloria Estefan, Marilyn Manson, Mental Crutch, Vanilla Ice, DJ Laz, and Pitbull.

Miami music is varied. Cubans brought the conga[2] and rumba, while Haitians and the rest of the French West Indies have brought kompa and zouk to Miami from their homelands instantly popularizing them in American culture. Dominicans brought bachata, and merengue, while Colombians brought vallenato and cumbia, and Brazilians brought samba. West Indians and Caribbean people have brought, reggae, soca, calypso, and steel pan to the area as well.[3]

Music history[edit]

The South Florida recording industry started in Miami in the 1950s with Criteria Studios,[4] recording top selling albums such as Rumours by Fleetwood Mac and Hotel California by The Eagles. Local music entrepreneur Henry Stone and his label, TK Records, created the local indie scene in the 1970s. T. K. Records produced the R&B group KC and the Sunshine Band along with soul singers Betty Wright, George McCrae and Jimmy "Bo" Horne as well as a number of minor soul and disco hits, many influenced by Caribbean music. Tom Dowd a true innovator in the engineering of music worked out of Miami for many years and worked with a plethora of artists, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, Lynyrd Skynyrd just to name a few. Tom Petty also came out of South Florida.


In the early 1970s, the Miami disco sound came to life with TK Records,[5] featuring the music of KC and the Sunshine Band, with such hits as "Get Down Tonight", "(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty" and "That's the Way (I Like It)";[6] and the Latin-American disco group, Foxy (band), with their hit singles "Get Off" and "Hot Number".[7] They were on the very same South Florida label that released the first disco song to become a #1 hit on the pop music charts, "Rock Your Baby" by Miami area native George McCrae in 1974.[8] Other artists from that local label include Foxy, Peter Brown, Jimmy "Bo" Horne, Gwen McCrae, T-Connection, and Anita Ward. Miami native Teri DeSario was also a popular artist during the disco era.[9] The Bee Gees moved to Miami in 1975 and have lived here ever since then.[10]

Miami-influenced, Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine, hit the popular music scene with their Cuban-oriented sound and had hits in the 1980s with "Conga" and "Bad Boys".[11]


The 1980s and '90s also brought the genre of high energy Miami Bass to dance floors and car subwoofers throughout the country.[12] Miami Bass spawned artists like 2 Live Crew (featuring Uncle Luke),[12] 95 South,[13] Tag Team,[14] 69 Boyz,[15] Quad City DJ's, and Freak Nasty. Examples of these songs are "Whoomp! (There It Is)" by Tag Team in 1993, "Tootsee Roll" by 69 Boyz in 1994, and "C'mon N' Ride It (The Train)" by the Quad City DJ's in 1996.

Cuban and Latino influences[edit]

The influence of Cuban culture and music history on the music of South Florida is undeniable. The 1997 hit album Buena Vista Social Club was performed by a group featuring former stars of the Havana nightclub scene, it won a Grammy, became a hit, and was listed in 2003 by Rolling Stone magazine as #260 in The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. [3]

Cuban American female recording artist, Ana Cristina, was born in Miami in 1985.[16]

MTV Latin America is based in Miami, serving residents in Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, and other Latin American countries since 1993.

Popular music[edit]

Electronic Dance Music[edit]

The city is a major music production city and attracts many annual music festivals, such as Ultra Music Festival

Electronic Dance Music (EDM) and its subgenres have been important in South Florida. Miami is considered a "hot spot" for dance music.[17][18] Starting in the 1970s with acts like Jimmy Bo Horne and KC and The Sunshine Band, dance music coming out of Florida could be heard all over the world. With the demographics of South Florida being made up of Cuban, Haitian, and many other Afro-Caribbean cultures, Dance Music became very popular adopting a lot of the grooves and percussion from those cultures. Early on the dance scene in South Florida was mostly playing the EDM subgenres Disco, House, and Freestyle. Freestyle, a style of dance music popular in the 1980s and 90s was heavily influenced by Electro, hip-hop, and disco.[19] Many popular Freestyle acts such as Pretty Tony, Debbie Deb,[20] Stevie B,[21] and Exposé,[22] originated in Miami.

In the 1980s, due to a combination of clubs staying open till 5 AM and the glut of easily available drugs, Miami's dance scene began to get noticed internationally. In 1985 the Winter Music Conference, a yearly, week-long dance music conference/convention/showcase started in South Florida. The event has happened in Miami ever since. WMC as it is also known as, is famous as well for its Ultra Music Festival which happens the same week. By the 1990s many local DJs and producers where getting noticed. Acts like Murk, aka Funky Green Dogs, Planet Soul, and DJs like Robbie Rivera, were all getting air play not just in Florida but around the world. Clubs like Space, Crobar, and Mansion also attracted first class international DJ as well increasing the musics popularity. Miami would wind up allowing its night clubs to stay open 24 hours on the weekend. Thus increasing the demand for Dance Music. Clubs would regularly have internationally known DJs as well as local acts such as Ivano Bellini, Patrick M, and a long list of others spin into the next day.

There was also a period of alternatives to nightclubs, the warehouse party, acid house, rave and outdoor festival scenes of the late 1980s and early 1990s were havens for the latest trends in electronic dance music,[23] especially house and its ever-more hypnotic, synthetic offspring techno and trance, in clubs like the infamous Warsaw Ballroom better known as Warsaw and The Mix where DJs like David Padilla (who was the resident DJ for both) and radio. The new sound fed back into mainstream clubs across the country. The scene in SoBe, along with a bustling secondhand market for electronic instruments and turntables, had a strong democratizing effect, offering amateur, "bedroom" DJs the opportunity to become proficient and popular as both music players and producers, regardless of the whims of the professional music and club industries. Some of these notable DJs are John Benetiz (better known as JellyBean Benetiz), Danny Tenaglia, and David Padilla.[24]

Today Miami is home to a vibrant techno and dance scene and hosts the Winter Music Conference, the largest dance event in the world, Ultra Music Festival and many electronica music-themed celebrations and festivals. Currently, the EDM subgenres popular in South Florida, in particular, are Deep House, Tech House and Techno.

Hip Hop[edit]

Denzel Curry performing in 2016

Southern rap is a category of hip hop music that arose from the influences of hip hop culture in New York City and California in the late 1990s in cities such as Miami, New Orleans, Atlanta, Memphis, Houston, and Dallas. Miami and Southern Florida are a major hub and driving force for Southern rap. Floridian artists such as Plies, Epitaph, DJ Laz, Trick Daddy, Pitbull, Flo Rida, Stack$, JT Money, Carl Lovett, Rick Ross, Trina, Jacki-O, Gold Rush, Pretty Ricky, and 2 Live Crew.

In the 2010s, Miami had a growing scene based around cloud rap that began to emerge with rappers such as SpaceGhostPurrp, Yung Simmie and Denzel Curry.[25] Traditional trap music normal in other areas of the south such as Atlanta and Texas began to gain popularity in Florida with artists like Kodak Black entering the mainstream.[26] Curry and Kodak Black later were featured on XXL 2016 Freshmen cover which features the rappers generally breaking into the mainstream and on the verge of being popular.[27]

In 2017, breakout artist XXXTentacion brought the "soundcloud rap" movement towards the mainstream. The movement, predominately based in South Florida[28] takes its name from the audio distribution platform Soundcloud where the artists generally post their music. The style of music, brought forward by SoundCloud rap, is heavily distorted bass, intentionally bad mixing and fast tempos.[29] The main artists in this movement are XXXTentacion, Lil Pump, Wifisfuneral, Ski Mask the Slump God and Smokepurpp.[30] XXXTentacion was featured on the XXL 2017 Freshman cover.[31] Lil Pump, Ski Mask The Slump God, Smokepurrp, and Wifisfuneral were all featured on the XXL 2018 Freshman cover.[32]

Miami bass[edit]

Miami Bass is a popular style of music from the Miami area of South Florida and is embodied by the musical style of local rap stars such as Trick Daddy.[33] Miami Bass is a part of the robust music scene in the South Florida metropolitan area, which comprises cities such as Miami, West Palm Beach, and Fort Lauderdale. These cities have many locally famous rappers; and dj's who are on their way up in the rap game.

Miami bass is a booming, bass-heavy style of hip hop that developed in the mid-1980s in Miami. The distinctive sound evolved from electro hop, including sounds from Luther Campbell and his group, 2 Live Crew. The Miami Bass scene that 2 Live Crew typified is simply one form of southern rap and Miami Bass' club-oriented sound garnered little respect from hip hop fans. But the 2 Live crew is not the only music artist in Miami. This city also holds Trick Daddy, DJ Uncle Al, Rick Ross, Trina, Jacki-O, Pitbull, Cool & Dre, DJ Khaled, Smitty, Pretty Ricky, BlackMask and many more. Miami rapper Trick Daddy also grew up in the Liberty Square of the Liberty City section of Miami, one of the city's and America's roughest areas. The city of Miami is also home to the label Slip "N" Slide Records.

Miami bass innovators include Maggotron and Luther Campbell's 2 Live Crew. The lyrics to Miami bass are sexually explicit, so when 2 Live Crew achieved national attention, these explicit lyrics caused a controversy. Several music stores were prosecuted under obscenity laws for selling the disc, and the members of 2 Live Crew were arrested for performing songs from the album Nasty As They Wanna Be The charges were subsequently dropped.[34]


The Miami rock scene had a particularly successful period in the late 1980s to mid-1990s, sparked by the many rock and acoustic venues within South Beach and Fort Lauderdale, including Washington Square, Roses, the Stephen Talkhouse, Cactus Cantina, South Beach Pub, Blue Steel, the Chili Pepper (Revolution), The Culture Room, Squeeze, Edge, Reunion Room, Nocturnal Cafe, Button South, Plus Five, McFly's and Tavern 213. Popular local artists included The Mavericks, Nuclear Valdez, I Don't Know, Marilyn Manson, The Goods, Collapsing Lungs, Nonpoint, Saigon Kick, Tuff Luck, Vandal, Sin City, Charlie Pickett, The Holy Terrors, Forget the Name, Natural Causes, Peter Betan, Nil Lara, Diane Ward, The Broken Toys, Ed Hale, Matthew Sabatella, Zac, Paul Roub, Dennis Britt, Harry Pussy, Magda Hiller, Quit, Load, Dore Soul, Eyes of Pandora, Sixo, Brian Franklin, Itanna, Curious Hair, Robbie Gennett, Rudy, Restless Spirits, the Baboons, Purple Mustard, Brian Scheinhoft aka BeShine and "The Ekeouts," The Weeds, Tommy Anthony & Goza, Four O'Clock Balloon, Machete, and Amanda Green.

Ska punk band Against All Authority is from Miami, and rock/metal bands Nonpoint and Marilyn Manson each formed in Fort Lauderdale.[35][36]

Indie/folk acts Cat Power and Iron & Wine are based in the city,[37] while alternative hip hop artist Sage Francis, electro artist Uffie, and the electroclash duo Avenue D were born in Miami, but musically based elsewhere.

A local producer and noise-artist from the Miami Rock Scene, Rat Bastard, has recently been celebrated in a rock opera, entitled "Hearing Damage (aka the Rat Opera)". The Rat Opera, written by local performers Brian Franklin and Rob Elba, features Rene Alvarez playing the part of Rat. Rat co-founded the group To Live and Shave in L.A. in 1993.

     This list is not complete without mentioning the Lesley Daunt led Lyrics For Lunch, acoustically driven rock featuring John Reece, Kathi George and Eric Levierre (sp) the band remained in heavy demand through the early 90s playing to packed local clubs and being regularly featured on local FM radio. The band traveled to Indianapolis for a showcase show during the week of the 75th running of the Indy 500 motorsports event.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Oye Como Va!". Miami Magazine. Retrieved 2006-11-08.
  2. ^ "Latin Music USA | PBS". Retrieved June 17, 2016.
  3. ^ "Facts About The History of Miami City – Visit Miami, FL". Miami All Around. Retrieved June 17, 2016.
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  5. ^ "Founder of the 'Miami Sound,' TK Records' Henry Stone dies at 93". miamiherald. Retrieved June 17, 2016.
  6. ^ LTD., BubbleUp,. "About KC". KC and the Sunshine Band :: Official Website. Retrieved June 17, 2016.
  7. ^ Bogdanov, Vladimir (2003). All Music Guide to Soul: The Definitive Guide to R&B and Soul. Google Books: Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 254. ISBN 0879307447.
  8. ^ Castillo, Arielle. "Seven Essential Tracks From Miami's Disco Heyday". Retrieved June 17, 2016.
  9. ^ DjPaulT (January 25, 2013). "Teri DeSario – The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of / Ain't Nothing Gonna Keep Me From You (US 12" Promo)". Burning The Ground: DjPaulT's 80's and 90's Remixes. Retrieved June 17, 2016.
  10. ^ Olson, James (1999). Historical Dictionary of the 1970s. Google Books: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 48. ISBN 0313305439.
  11. ^ "Rewinding the Charts: In 1985, Miami Sound Machine Did the 'Conga' in Its Debut". Billboard. Retrieved June 17, 2016.
  12. ^ a b Bein, Kat (October 23, 2015). "The Ten Greatest Miami Bass Songs of All Time". Miami New Times. Retrieved June 17, 2016.
  13. ^ "Bio". 95 South Music. Archived from the original on October 12, 2016. Retrieved June 17, 2016.
  14. ^ Shepherd, John (2012). Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World Volume 8: Genres: North America. Google Books: A&C Black. p. 325. ISBN 1441160787.
  15. ^ Gonzalez, Victor (October 29, 2012). "69 Boyz, Booty, and Miami Bass Super Fest at BankUnited Center". Miami New Times. Retrieved June 17, 2016.
  16. ^ Cristina, Ana. "Latin Pop Star Ana Cristina to Kick-Off Her 23rd Birthday Events at Mynt Lounge and Vita Restaurant 'Sex and the City Style'". Retrieved June 17, 2016.
  17. ^ "Roots of Miami's vibrant arts scene were planted in the 1980s". miamiherald. Retrieved June 17, 2016.
  18. ^ "The Best Cities in America for Dance Music Right Now". Complex. Retrieved June 17, 2016.
  19. ^ Gardner, Joey. "History of Freestyle Music".
  20. ^ Host, Vivian (25 September 2015). "Interview: Pretty Tony on Freestyle, Debbie Deb and More". Red Bull Music Academy.
  21. ^ Gonzalez, Victor (May 7, 2012). "Stevie B: The King of Freestyle is Still Hungry and Still Humble". Miami New Times. Retrieved June 17, 2016.
  22. ^ Bronson, Fred (2003). The Billboard Book of #1 Hits. Google Books: Billboard Publications. p. 691.
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  27. ^ "This Kodak Black, 21 Savage, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Yachty, and Denzel Curry Cypher Is More Fun Than Recess". Noisey. Retrieved 2017-08-30.
  28. ^ "The South Florida Rappers Dominating Soundcloud". Genius. Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  29. ^ "Look At Me!: The Noisy, Blown-Out SoundCloud Revolution Redefining Rap". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  30. ^ Caramanica, Jon (2017-06-22). "The Rowdy World of Rap's New Underground". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  31. ^ "2017 XXL Freshman Cover Revealed". XXL Mag. Retrieved 2017-08-30.
  32. ^ "XXL 2018 Freshman Class Revealed – XXL". XXL Mag. Retrieved 2018-08-16.
  33. ^ "Trick Daddy's Official Website". Trick Daddy. Archived from the original on 2007-02-02. Retrieved 2006-11-04.
  34. ^ "2 Live Crew Biography". All Retrieved 2006-11-08.
  35. ^ Kissell, Ted B. "Manson: The Florida Years". Cleveland Scene. Retrieved June 17, 2016.
  36. ^ Iwasaki, Scott (August 6, 2010). "Metal band Nonpoint still going strong with 6th CD release". Retrieved June 17, 2016.
  37. ^ "Interview: Cat Power". Pitchfork Media. November 13, 2006. Archived from the original on August 19, 2007. Retrieved August 25, 2007.