Hip-hop in Miami has never been about impressing the next man with your lyrics, or fighting the power. The weather and the girls are just too damn hot for that sort of thing. Sex, money, and the pursuit of happiness have always been the topics of choice for Dade County rappers—a legacy that dates all the way back to the X-rated comedy records that local soul songwriter Clarence Reid recorded as “Blowfly” in the ’70s and ’80s.
The city's car culture, strip clubs and drug-fueled ’80s nightlife provided the backdrop for the development of Miami Bass, the uptempo, 808-driven dance sound popularized by nightclub owner/record magnate/First Amendment poster boy Luther "Luke Skyywalker" Campbell and his booty-obsessed group, 2 Live Crew.
Bass music dominated the Miami soundscape for over a decade, supplanted only by the emergence of Slip-N-Slide Records, Trick Daddy, and Trina at the close of the 1990s. Rappers like Rick Ross and Pitbull took inspiration from Scarface, Miami Vice, and the real-life crime wave that turned the city into America's murder capital in the 1980s.
Equally influential in recent years has been the wave of rap stars from other cities who have settled on Miami’s shores since Urban Beach Week, The Source Awards, and a certain Will Smith song helped turn the city into hip-hop’s favorite playground. The result is a striking duality not found in any other U.S. rap scene, reflecting both the sunny resorts of Miami Beach and the gritty ghettos on the other side of Interstate 95.
As the city’s current don dada, RIck Ross, gets set to drop his long-awaited God Forgives, I Don't—an album that promises to be one of the biggest in Dade Country history—Complex takes a look back at The 50 Best Miami Rap Songs. It’s peanut butter jelly time!
Words by Jesse Serwer (@JesseSerwer)