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It's just before midnight outside Diamonds Cabaret, a swank-meets-hood black strip club on the western, industrial edge of North Miami Beach. Six cops sit in patrol cars outside, and three security guards stand near the door. The club once had a bad reputation it's trying to outgrow — but the feeling that tonight is going to be a wild night is inescapable.
For starters, it's Miami rapper JT Money's birthday bash, and a bunch of local music scenesters is expected to attend: Trick Daddy, the Dunk Riders, Grind Mode, Ball Greezy, and a crew from Miami's Poe Boy record label. A lot of these hip-hop artists don't clock much radio play, but their songs are anthems in urban neighborhoods throughout South Florida. A big portion of their popularity is related to one thing: Their music is played at local strip clubs.
A place such as Diamonds is the perfect barometer to judge what's hot in urban music. Songs still months away from radio play are on regular rotation here. And girls who work at Diamonds consider themselves the best black strippers in Miami. So the place is always a party.
Only moments after I step inside the small lobby, where patrons pay admission and get patted down, there's already trouble. A reggae artist named Don Yute and his manager are here to see the DJ. But the girls in charge of admission won't let them in for free.
"It's $10, boo," a stylish black woman with long, curly hair says with attitude. "Your name is not on the list."
"What do mean we can't come in? This is Don Yute," his manager says confidently. "Tell the DJ Don Yute is here."
Yute, born Jason Williams, hails from Port Antonio, Jamaica. The 30-year-old isn't a big name in his native country, let alone Miami. But they're hoping to slip Yute's latest single to one of the DJs. "Drive Me Crazy" is a sexy, up-tempo dancehall track geared toward erotic dancers. Doors could open if they can get the record played tonight — most likely by tipping the DJ 10 bucks.
They have to make it inside first. Eddie "DJ Fattboi" Desrosier, age 28 — who spins music at Diamonds and bears an uncanny resemblance to the animated character Shrek — doesn't recognize Yute's name. He denies them free entry. Opting not to pay $10 apiece, the manager, in desperation, slips me a CD of Yute's music.
"Tell him to play Track 5," he says while being ushered out the door. "Track 5! That song is perfect for the strip clubs."
A bouncer turns in my direction. "We get this all the time," he says. "Nowadays all of the local artists come here to try and get their music played."
For many South Florida urban musicians, popularity in strip clubs means success. More new songs are debuted in these erotic venues than on any mainstream local radio stations.
If girls can bump and grind to a new song, and guys want to spend money while it's playing, there's a good chance it'll be a hit.
Jack "DJ Suicide" LaLanne spent 15 years working as a radio personality at 99 Jamz and as a DJ at strip clubs. "It's very common for artists to perform in strip clubs to stay relevant in the streets," he says. "That's where most major records are being broken anyway. All these new songs on the radio that you hear, even national stuff, it doesn't get broken on the radio. Those songs are big in strip clubs first — whether it's a Young Jeezy or whoever. Radio is last nowadays."
Twenty-eight-year-old DJ Chico, who declines to use his real name because he works on pirate radio stations, also spins records at black strip clubs. He gigs at Flavors, a black topless bar in Pompano Beach. Chico asserts that DJs in these venues fill a void.
"I feel like the radio stations, they don't play music for the people," he says. "And it's not right. The little person, they don't haveany other opportunity to get their music heard, so they come to titty bars."
Local hip-hop artists know a good single can get support from strip clubs DJs, even if other outlets aren't paying attention yet.
In the mid-Eighties, local hip-hop entrepreneur Luther "Uncle Luke" Campbell and 2 Live Crew began using strip clubs as their venue of choice for breaking records. They were pioneers. "I went to Tootsie's back in, like, '83 for the first time," Campbell recalls. "And when I saw what was going on, being creative, I said, I'ma get this 2 Live Crew group and create music around sexually oriented dancing."
In Campbell's eyes, strip clubs at that point were mostly for bikers and white guys. The music was for that same demographic, with guitar-heavy rock of the Alice Cooper and Poison variety. Campbell saw an opportunity for Southern rap to sneak in.
In 1986, 2 Live Crew's first single, "Throw the Dick," was a hit at Miami strip clubs such as Coco's and Club Rolexx (now Club Lexx). National attention followed almost immediately. Most bands spent promo money on videos, but Campbell figured out that making a song popular in topless bars throughout South Florida, and eventually across the nation, ensured it would be played during lap dances for years.
WELL DONE ARTICLE. Very much appreciated...from the Dj's to the rap artists trying to get their ish' played the story just flowed very well. LOVED it.
Im happy that this article was made, cause miami strip club do have a big say in hip hop. Im a local and i think hip hop and strip club in miami is one. I love all the local artist in miami, cause there from where am from and i can relate 2 the music. I also love the strip club and i dont think nothing is wrong with it. Im glad the writer wrote it from a other point of view. And didnt make it seem like a other dumb thing in miami.
From the author's descriptions of the clubs and their 'dancers,' it seemed like he was less than thrilled and titilated by his surroundings.
Which was funny - the stereotype is that men enter such places and lose their mind over the women.
But damn, at the same time, you didn't really get a sense of why others went to the club if everything was so lackluster and banal.
But hey, it's about the music anyone, and the writer described that very well.
Seems that the population self-identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) becomes more and more. According to my experience on the site *Bisexualmingle dotcom* (a site for coming out, explore sexuality, etc.), there are about 150 members per day and they are very active. You can imagine.Ifyou come here frequently, you may find what you are looking easily and quickly.
SINONFIRE is absolutely correct....nice read. haven't been to a strip club in a minute but damn i needs to go back! ass ass an mo ass! i like em brown, yellow, puerto rican or hatian name is fife dog from the.......ah never mind!
true hip hop never dies.
The writer describes the strippers and the types of clubs so the reader can relate. Throughout the article, I had a picture of every club and stripper in my head. Good article... I'm a Miami native so, my love for the city is goes without saying. However, the lesson on how Miami and the artist from there influenced hip-hop brought back memories and gives me a since of pride because, people from other places in the states don't appreciate or even understand how Miami influenced Hip Hop.
Chris I was wondering the same thing.....it was black girl this, black stripper that; white stripper this, puerto rican stripper that.
This is my kind of story. Titties and ass baby. And music too!Naw, actually its a really good read. The story about Flo Rida and the money being swept up with push brooms is so hip-hop, it's ridiculous