By Kat Bein
By Shea Serrano
By S. Pajot
By Terrence McCoy
By Falyn Freyman
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By Jacob Katel
By Michael E. Miller
Ask around about who is the next Miami MC to transition from a local talent to a national force, and chances are you'll hear the name Garcia pop up more often than not. With a battering-ram flow as terse as it is rhythmic, and a sense of street bravado that is never tough yet not fantastical, the Miami-born-and-bred Garcia could be likened to the late, great Big Pun. Garcia's recorded material from last year's LP Anti-Social to recent singles such as local hit "Clap Your Hands," as well as his collaboration with Pitbull and DJ Irie, "Miami Vice" still has the raw, magnetic grit of the best of underground hip-hop. The grimy veneer comes honestly, though. Garcia has been on his independent grind now for more than a decade. But with his recent segment on MTV's My Block, several record labels showing interest, and a recent stint as the face of UPN (Channel 33), Garcia won't be toiling in sweatbox clubs forever.
New Times recently sat down with Garcia to talk about how he negotiates his rising popularity with his rough street sound.
Would you rather be a great MC or a popular MC?
I want to be a great and popular MC. I'm not going to sit here and lie to you and tell you that I just want to make good music and don't care about being popular. Why would you get into the music industry and not want to succeed in it? Every artist is egotistical and wants his face out there. I want to make good music; I want to be revered for my music; when I die, I want to be on a stamp. I want my kids to tell their kids.
What do you want them to say?
That I stayed true to myself and made good music; that I really did something for the culture I was involved in, which was hip-hop music. I've been into this culture since I was a little kid. I went through the Golden Era, I listened to all the music that so many underground heads are trying to return to. The reason that I started rapping was Public Enemy. Chuck D had one of the dopest voices in hip-hop, and the same with KRS-One. I lived through that we all did at Crazy Hood.
Which Miami hip-hop artists influenced you?
I grew up idolizing the Rhythm Rocker. He was the first person to put me on radio. He had a community radio show called the Saturday Night Fun Box. Commercial radio wasn't even playing hip-hop at the time. So if you were on the Fun Box, you were it. He was a huge influence on me. Even 2 Live Crew was a big influence on me. I'm not going to lie; I used to love to go to the clubs when I was a kid, and that's what you got down to. There was also DJ Raw with Hoodstock. He played a big part in bringing hip-hop to Miami in the early Nineties. On the artist tip back then, there was Black Forest, The Last Straws, Mother Superior. It wasn't on a commercial level, but these groups were cracking houses. There seemed to be some momentum, and then suddenly it just died out. Things changed in hip-hop. Tupac and Biggie died, the playa image started to emerge, and for a while everything was just East Coast/West Coast. Miami didn't keep itself moving. It became trendy. It started following what other people were doing instead of creating something for itself. It didn't support its own. Miami hip-hop didn't know how to live off its own. Even booty died; even bass died. There's not too many from that era left. We're trying to bring that flavor back.