Artists to Watch: Miami
Maybe it’s the humidity that gives Miami's music its distinctive sheen, maybe it's the good looking people strutting the beach. There’s also the city’s love for bass-y house. And let’s not forget Miami’s vibrant Latino community that’s been influencing local music since the ‘50s.
Miami’s music feels cosmopolitan. Shaped within a global city rife with palm trees and sandy beaches, it's versatile, but doesn't feel like it could come from anywhere else. Swimming through Miami’s music history, you’ll find dozens of styles of Cuban music, Haitian zouk, reggaeton, gems from the storied Miami punk scene and pillars of the still-smoldering Miami Bass movement. These styles have all come together to influence today’s Miami artists in profound ways, but it’s hard to pin down one aesthetic. Many Miami musicians are entranced by deep house and disco, while others look to their own brand of slow, southern hip-hop or electro-funk. And while in its present form, the region is still finding its signature sound, the room for experimentation is excitingly palpable.With a quick shoutout to the editors at Nightdrive Miami for the expertise on the Miami scene, let’s take a closer look at some of the artists from Miami who you should be paying attention to right now.
Kat Dahlia’s story is one every artist wishes they had. Since her 'teens, Kat’s been a rapper armed with only a YouTube channel. From a base group of online fans she hustled towards pop stardom when Epic Records noticed her. After being scouted and signed to one of their imprints, she began working towards her debut LP, My Garden, due out this coming September. This Cuban-American singer/rapper/songwriter has plenty of pop chops. Songs like the street-smart "Gangsta," and her light-hearted pop banger "Crazy" make it clear she fits nicely into different musical molds. With production work by Timbaland, The-Dream, Naughty Boy, Illangelo, and more, we're looking to My Garden to find out what kind of artist Dahlia truly is.
Check out her Rankin-directed music video for "Crazy," above.
This is a very different Cat from the last one. This impassioned indie-folk troubadour doesn't subscribe to the glossy Miami vibe you might expect, but Cat Power, born Chan Marshall, reps Miami well. While she's spent time in New York and LA, she’s lived on-and-off in Miami since 2003. Her style of earnest, powerful folk is a welcome addition to the Miami scene. In 2012 she released her ninth studio album Sun after six years without a new drop. Trading her familiar guitar and piano keys in for a synthesizer, Marshall challenged herself to create a body of work people would love. A true musician, she produced the whole album herself, despite pressure from her label, and even called on Iggy Pop to lay vocals down on "Nothin' But Time." Check out her video for "Manhattan," above.
One of the pioneers of the genre, Tego Calderón was the reggaeton's first major label signee. When he inked a joint deal with Atlantic Records and his own Jiggiri Records in 2005, reggaeton was largely still an underground art form. Born in Puerto Rico, Calderón moved to Miami at a young age. His incredible success as an independent artist laid the groundwork for the kind of crossover that introduced reggaeton to the masses. Calderón, however, is an adept using a wide range of Afro-Caribbean sounds in his music. He combines salsa, dancehall, and hip-hop to blend his own style of Latin rap, and has collaborated with everyone from Buju Banton and Salaam Remi, to Don Omar and more.
His fifth studio album, produced by the legendary Echo, El Que Sabe, Sabe is due out later this year. Check out the second single from the album “Colabore,” that dropped last year and stay tuned for more details about the album release.
If you’re not familiar with DJ Khaled’s signature battle cry, “WE THE BEST!” you have probably been living under a pop culture rock. Cutting his teeth as a south Florida radio DJ, DJ Khaled quickly worked his way up as a producer, releasing music that featured top singers and rappers. Today, he’s built himself a Miami-based empire as a radio personality, DJ, producer, President of Def Jam South and CEO of his own record label We The Best Music Group. His seventh studio album Suffering From Success dropped in October 2013 and included features from artists like Future, Mavado, Diddy, John Legend, fellow Miami-Artist-to-Watch, Kat Dahlia, and rap superstar Nicki Minaj.
Born in Miami before returning with his family to Jamaica for most of his childhood, Sean Kingston was discovered on MySpace and quickly scooped up by Epic records to develop his signature modern Reggae-pop sound. After breaking through with his hit “Beautiful Girls” he went on to release plenty more tunes while also setting himself up as future role model material by becoming a spokesperson for Do Something.
Let’s take a turn into the Miami underground for a minute to a local favorite, the DJ known as Pirate Stereo. After growing up in Mexico City and attending Berklee College of Music, Pirate Stereo launched his career remixing a debut track by his classmate, none other than Passion Pit’s “Sleepyhead.” Today, Pirate Stereo makes his rounds among the best local DJs as a resident of a popular local party and as an organizer of a recent music festival in a Mexican rainforest— sweet.
Psychic Mirrors is a collaborative electro-funk music project in every sense of the word. Depending on the release or performance, the crew is comprised of a range of eight-to-12 people at any given time! Taking cues from G-Funk/Boogie revivalist Dam Funk and electro-Latin artist Chico Mann, these guys have only released a few singles so far, but here’s hoping they put out many, many more. Check out “Midnight” above and stay tuned for updates from this burgeoning Miami crew.
DJ Ruen is an example of a current artist who typifies the Miami bass scene. He's all about the 808. Ruen inserts a sense of restraint and humor into his blend of house, electro, and dubstep. A weekly resident of LIV and Wall in Miami, DJ Ruen’s also shared the stage with the likes of Diplo and A-Trak.
Check out "Boom Boom," above.
Turning the page to more 303/909-indebted dance music, let’s take a look at Dude Skywalker, a funky trio of DJs and producers giddily riding the line between Miami bass, deep house, and lighter techno. These Dudes have made a name for themselves spinning their appropriately bouncy, stylish dance music at venues across Miami.Related Articles
July 22, 2014 via Pepsi