Ten Best Miami Bands of All Time

Welcome to Miami. The beach is bangin'. And the music is the effing best, bro.

But while the rest of America might want to limit the MIA's music scene to its coked-out clubbers, horny Calle Ocho party crews, and ass-blasting rappers, Dade County has always been rife with punks, metalheads, soul legends, swampy blues dudes, indie rockers, dark DJ duos, and experimental noise freaks too.

We got it all. Just check out the ten best Miami bands of all time.

Uncle Luke and 2 Live Crew: Best in the MIA.
Jules Allen
Uncle Luke and 2 Live Crew: Best in the MIA.

10. Murk. Miami homeboys Oscar Gaetan and Ralph Falcon didn't just put the 305 on the house music map in the '90s. They defined that decade's worldwide house sound, sending seven consecutive singles to number one on Billboard's Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart. And with a case of classic-house nostalgia seizing today's international dance floors, Gaetan and Falcon's sound is hotter and more relevant than ever. Get a load of 2011's chart-topping Murk comeback — "Amame," featuring Jei — for a taste of homegrown Latin-flavored Miami house at its best. Sean Levisman

9. NRBQ. Mostly led by pianist and songwriter Terry Adams, this legendary underground act got its start as a jam band in Kentucky. But it evolved into a fully formed outfit after hitting our swamplands in 1967. From that point until 2004 (with occasional reunions over the course of the past eight years), NRBQ (an abbreviation of New Rhythm and Blues Quartet) brewed a bubbling blend of psych-rock, heavy blues, experimental jazz, rockabilly, and ragtime that's been praised by everybody from Bob Dylan to Bonnie Raitt. If anything, the group was unpredictable, a quality that's made its influence on other acts far outshine any actual sales impact. NRBQ, an act once known for warped covers, has now itself been covered frequently by Raitt, Widespread Panic, and even Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward's She and Him. Arielle Castillo

8. Exposé. The 23-second instrumental intro to 1985's "Point of No Return" is a master class in Miami freestyle. That alone is enough to immortalize Exposé. But then there are those perfect '80s pop vocals. And you just can't deny that your knees get weak when you hear the words, "Oh, baby!" Yet while the ladies of Exposé deserve a lot of credit, Miami DJ Lewis Martineé was the real mastermind behind the group. After all, "Point of No Return" and megahit "Seasons Change" were performed by two different sets of singers. But even personnel changes couldn't stop this phenomenon from topping the Billboard charts and making its 1987 debut, Exposure, a dance-pop classic. Jose D. Duran

7. Poison Clan. Signed to Luther Campbell's Luke Records and billed as the "Baby 2 Live Crew," JT Money and Poison Clan, in their earliest incarnation, were actually closer to Miami's version of the Geto Boys. While the group's sound would shift into more typical Miami bass territory after the departure of New York-raised MC Debonair, Poison Clan's 1990 debut, 2 Low Life Muthas, with its ig'nant lyrics about pimping and other unseemly pursuits, set up the emergence of raw Southern rap duos like UGK and 8Ball & MJG. Later LPs recorded by JT Money with an assortment of randoms were less complete but still produced the occasional Miami bass classic. Most notably, there was 1992's game-changing "Shake Whatcha Mama Gave Ya," which established the gruff vocal style that would become standard on nearly every bass record released thereafter. Of course, though, JT Money would have his greatest commercial success as a solo artist with 1999's 305 classic, "Who Dat." Jesse Serwer

6. Load. This early-'90s Miami rock band was the epitome of unfuckwithable. In keeping with the grunge era's pastiche of punk grit and classic-rock bravado, Load channeled hardcore's intensity (as interpreted by seminal record labels like Amphetamine Reptile and Touch and Go) into rip-roaringly drunk, nasty blues. During its heyday, this crew opened for nearly every major hard rock, punk, and alternative act (the Ramones, Bad Brains, FEAR, Killdozer) that was foolhardy enough to drive all the way down to Miami. Matt Preira

5. KC & the Sunshine Band. Somewhere in the Himalayas, there's a young Tibetan kid in a modest shack drinking Coca-Cola, looking at his Elvis poster, and dancing his ass off to a KC & the Sunshine Band record — probably "Shake Your Booty." In late 1973, this now-classic disco crew was born when studio intern Harry Wayne Casey cut some after-hours demos at TK Records' headquarters in Hialeah. The boss — local music legend Henry Stone — liked them so much that he invested in the band and some hi-fi vinyl. And within two years, every club rat from John Travolta to Miami's own disco mamas were shaking booty to KC's tunes while screaming, "That's the way I like it!" Jacob Katel

4. Sam & Dave. Before signing to Atlantic Records and working with the famous Stax Records production team of Isaac Hayes and David Porter, Sam & Dave ("Soul Man," "Hold On, I'm Coming") were under a gun-barrel management contract with John Lomelo of the King of Hearts club in Liberty City. These Miami boys, now known worldwide for their explosive live show, cut their teeth on the talent-show circuit through Overtown, Coconut Grove, and all of black Miami, where they sang their hearts out for little more than craps money and new shoes. But one day, TK Records label honcho Henry Stone took Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun to see Sam & Dave work a nightclub, and the rest is music history. Jacob Katel

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