By Rebecca Bulnes
By Laurie Charles
By Chuck Strouse
By Lee Zimmerman
By Laurie Charles
By Falyn Freyman
By Hans Morgenstern
Since the mid-'90s, Miami Beach has welcomed some of hip-hop's biggest names during Memorial Day weekend for a four-day alcohol-fueled throwdown, commonly referred to as Urban Beach Week. It began as a SoBe fashion event and eventually became an intercity celebration of black culture, complete with comedy shows and music festivals, including the Best of the Best concert.
Hosted by Funkmaster Flex, this year's BOTB at Bicentennial Park on Sunday will feature performances by some of the rap game's biggest talent.
French Montana. Despite his decision to sign with P. Diddy's Bad Boy Records earlier this year, French Montana has remarkably close ties to Rick Ross's Maybach Music Group. The 27-year-old Moroccan-born MC appeared on two hot tracks — "Off the Boat" and "Stay Schemin'" — from Ross's critically acclaimed 2012 mixtape Rich Forever. The Boss returned the favor by collaborating on "Ballin'," a cut for Montana's Coke Boys 3 mix, and executive-producing Montana's forthcoming studio debut, Excuse My French. Clearly, the duo's bond is thicker than the marijuana smoke clouding Rozay's Maybach. But French Montana is just one of several Best of the Best artists with MMG connections.
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Meek Mill. Signing with Rick Ross's Maybach Music Group is like taking a blood oath with a mob family. There's unlimited earning potential, plus you'll be protected as long as you hustle hard and stay loyal. Meek Mill became a made guy last year, signing the MMG contract inside one of Rick Ross's sick cribs while a shirtless Rozay promised big things. For Mill, it was a rap dream come true. "Now it's get out and take that shit to the next level," he says. "It's Maybach, man."
2 Chainz. Formerly known as Tity Boi, this Atlanta-based rapper has been called a "mush mouth" and one of the most "controversial" MCs in the game by the blog Stereogum. And both labels were meant as compliments. Rocking True Religion jeans and $600 shades, and spitting seriously dope rhymes on his 2011 mixtape, T.R.U. REALigion, 2 Chainz has swag that's untouchable. "Sometimes I have them thoughts/Like I'm too real for this shit," he raps. "Labels keep callin'/I need two mil for this shit/Took a mixtape/Turned it to a mansion." Earlier this month, though, 2 Chainz signed with Kanye West's G.O.O.D. label and instantly upped his collaboration fee. According to Ye's Twitter feed, "2 Chainz is charging 100k for a verse now cause he's G.O.O.D."
Ace Hood. Straight out the 954 and representing DJ Khaled's We the Best Music Group via Young Money Entertainment, Ace Hood is only 24 years old, but he's already a five-year veteran of the rap game. Originally, Ace impressed Khaled after approaching the DJ outside 99 Jamz's studio and presenting him with a demo. A few months later, he was on Khaled's label and recording Gutta, his debut record. Today, Hood is still in the game and he's bigger than ever, dropping two mixtapes already this year and getting set to record his fourth studio album in the latter half of 2012.
DJ Khaled. Born in New Orleans but bred in the county of Dade, DJ Khaled has gone on to achieve hip-hop-heavyweight status in less than a decade, an impressive feat considering he's more of a hype man and less of an MC. What began as a part-time gig as Luther Campbell's sidekick on 99 Jamz has evolved into a Grammy-nominated career as a hugely sought-after record producer. He's worked with almost everyone in the business. But his loyalty to Miami is what makes this guy a fucking boss. Together with his good friend Rick Ross, Khaled has become one of the most recognizable names associated with contemporary Miami hip-hop, constantly reminding everyone that "We da best!"