Photo By DRO
Words by DJ EFN
By now, most would come to know Miami by its familiar South Beach real-estate, Cuban cuisine and its bass heavy musical history headed by Uncle Luke. Miami actually has a deep rooted history steeped in Hip Hop culture. Few thought of Miami as a play ground for B-Boy’s and B-Girls, but in the early 1990’s that’s exactly what Miami was. This was the scene that birthed and nurtured my passion for Hip Hop. The city of Miami would be nothing had it not been for the pioneering music of Luke & The 2 Live Crew, Poison Clan, DJ Uncle Al, The Sugar Hill Dj’s, DJ Laz, Ghetto Style Dj’s, and all the other Bass artist and dj’s that paved the way for Miami’s music scene. However, few know of the DJ’s, MC’s, Graffiti Writers and B-Boy’s that put their blood sweat and tears to equally pave the way for what is now seen as one of Hip Hop’s power house cities! For some reason this scene was lost therefor was not added to the history books and given its proper recognition. Only to be reminisced, in oral exchanges spoken amongst those that lived it. Many of us veterans remain from this scene and are still strong forces within the Miami Hip Hop industry. This is my recollection of this scene, how I experienced it and the people and places that I saw during this period.
In the late 80’s early 90’s New York was the dominant city in regards to Hip Hop music and culture while other cities such as Los angeles, Atlanta, Houston and Chicago were starting to come into their own. Miami had been recognized on the national scene with the success of 2 Live Crew but with this recognition came a Miami stereo-type. Thereby making it the last place for people to expect a thriving Hip Hop scene. In the early 90’s an emerging scene started to hone its skills while battling for recognition. This small yet passionate scene was becoming self sufficient including all the elements of hip hop. During this time, Hip Hop music was not played on local commercial radio stations and Miami Hip Hop-ers had few places to go to enjoy there music of choice. So we took it into our own hands by creating our own venues, artist, djs, stores, Mixtapes, B-boys and B-girls. This scene was not only proud to be a part of the global hip hop community but most of all it was proud to represent its city while doing so. This scene not only wanted respect but demanded it and created some of Hip Hops top DJ’s, MC’s, Graff writers and breakers! Before South Beach even considered allowing Hip Hop music and its patrons to be in their clubs, the scene created its own venues. Venues like the Carver Center, The Zoo, 5th street, Studio 183 and the Sugar Shack were places that Hip Hop heads could go and listen to local djs like DJ Epps, DJ Chris, Coo da ville, DJ TMS, DJ Snow white, DJ FM, DJ Antman, DJ Suicide and a young DJ Craze. Promoters and organizations such as Humble Lion, Sista Sista, The Science Room, Plan B, Night Breederz, On Point, DJ Raw, and Zulu Nation would host these venues.
MC’s were always trying to prove their lyrical prowess and battle MC’s such as B-Dope, Mangu, and Mic Rippa were local celebrities due to their Mic skills. This scene was extremely proud of its artist and made sure these artist were at the top of their game. Groups and artist such as Last Strawz, Black Forest, Home Team, Society and Mother Superia were a Miami Hip hop heads house hold name. Society whom came to Miami with Public Enemies Prof. Griff released the underground hit single “Yes-n-deed” (produced by DJ Slice) on Luke records and was one of the first lyrical representations of Miami’s hip hop scene to go national. Society later went on to sign to Slip-n-Slide records and was featured on some of Trick Daddy’s most notable tracks. Many of the scene’s hopes laid on a female MC by the name of Mother Superia, she was labeled the female Nas by her peers and is best noted as the person who coined the phrase “The Bottom” with her first single “Rock Bottom” which became an anthem for the scene. This got her a deal with Island Music and produced an album that featured Krs One, and Redman. Her first video was “Most of All” and was directed by Wu-Tang’s GZA. The local scene heavily anticipated the release of her album but unfortunately it was shelved and never released. So anytime you hear anyone say the term “The Bottom” you know exactly where it came from!
At this time commercial radio was not supporting hip hop. So the scene looked to pirate radio, college radio and public access radio for their Hip Hop fix. The most notable stations and shows being 90.5 FM The Bomb, Darnella at University of Miami’s WVUM, The Rhythm Rocker on the Saturday night Funk Box and a few years later with DJ Khaled on Mixx 96. the alternative to the scenes scarce radio programing was to pop in your favorite mixtape. You could buy all the latest mixtapes from all the top mixtape djs from one of the countries leading mixtape distributors; Hip Hop connection. Many turned to local mixtape DJ’s such as DJ Justntyme, DJ Craze, DJ G Brown, DJ Butta, DJ Battlecat, and myself DJ EFN. DJ Butta went on to dj for Dead Prez, DJ Battlecat went on to work with Fat Joe, and Krs one, Justntyme has moved on to become an executive at various media power houses and DJ Craze has traveled the world ten times over while becoming multiple DMC world champion as well as winning other battles and DJ championships. Before you heard the likes of Rick Ross, Smitty or Pitbull on your radio, they were featured on a DJ EFN mixtape!
Break dancing pioneers like Chilski, Zulu Gremz and Speedy Legs made sure to inspire young future breakers. Speedy Legs did so by holding his annual Pro-am breaking conference. Crews like Floor masters, Street masters, and later crews like Ground Zero would go on to represent Miami in world competitions further representing Miami’s Hip Hop scene. The streets of Miami were also covered in art by Graff crews like Ink Heads, STV, Dam Crew, Aim Crew, BSK and many others showcasing themselves, while avoiding the cops and battling it out with spray cans. Stores like The Back way, The Point, Blue Note records, Flava Station and my own Crazy Goods would be the go to spots for Hip Hop goods and information. Miami wouldn’t be the go to place for Hip Hop socialites today if it weren’t for events like DJ Raws “Hood stock”, or Peter Thomas’s “How Can I be Down” conference. DJ Khaled began his annual Birthday Bash “The Temple” and went on to opening up Miami’s commercial radio airwaves to our sounds. Artist like Skam2? did songs with a pre Aftermath Eminem (which Eminem mentions in his hit single “Stan”) and created classic artwork for the likes of Tribe Called Quest, and Eminem. Video directors like Gil Green are now hugely successful and directing for damn near all the top artist in the industry.
Something happened in the late 90’s that hindered this scene to see its way through to todays Miami Hip hop dominance but none the less that scene and the people in it were the cornerstone and inspiration for what is happening now. I am a strong believer that to move forward you must know and recognize what was behind you and in this fast information age it is easy to forget. So as not to do so, I pay homage to Miami’s Hip Hop scene as I knew it!
Shouts to Brimstone, Sista Kayla, Semp Rok, & Deed for their input.