Miami New Times' MasterMind Awards honors the city's most inspiring creatives. This week, we're profiling the 10 finalists, selected by our staff from over 100 submissions, who are in the running to receive one of three 2013 MasterMind awards, each of which comes with a fat $1,000 check. This year's MasterMind Award winners will be announced Thursday, February 28, at Artopia, our annual soiree celebrating Miami culture. For tickets and more information, visit the website.
Miami is all about the boobs, the booty, and the bass, and Jesse Perez is repping that trio. The DJ, producer, and founder of the label Mr. Nice Guy Records has a distinctive, sexually charged '90s-style-bass sound that's cut right out of the fabric of the MIA with booty-shaking, urban tracks such as "Hialeah House Party" and "Miami's My Town."
Make no mistake: The Cutler Bay resident is all about the grinding, dry-humping hotness of a Miami dance floor. But his music education began the old-fashioned way. Perez's piano-teacher mom raised him amid music, giving him Casio keyboards for Christmas.
Still, Perez jokes she was a dancer for 2 Live Crew, so he was around ass clappin' from the get-go. "I like the whole party thing. I'm from a hip-hop background, like walking into a club early on, hearing R&B, grinding up on a chick," the 29-year-old says. "I don't try to impress the old-school techno bloggers that are nitpicking everything. I wanted to create a label that focuses on the actual party, not the glamor."
Perez befriended local DJs in high school and then took to mixing cassettes, which garnered him some attention on the Miami music scene. He worked the DJ circuit before starting Mr. Nice Guy Records in 2010.
"Like most DJs, I was just frustrated no one was signing my records," Perez says. "That's when I decided to go my own route."
These days, Mr. Nice Guy releases tracks from Miami musicians Hectik Rivero, Sex Sells, and Mika Materazzi. The label has also repped Sishi Rosch, Den Ishu, and H2 and will soon issue a release from Amine Edge & Dance.
And of course there's Perez's own work, which has a bass-heavy, bump-and-grind South Florida sound that's nothing but unique -- even if he has inspired imitators, which he says is a compliment.
"Guys have made tracks that sound just like mine and they've gotten awards," he says. "In a way it kind of sucks, but it's what I have to do to make it." And performing helps; the funds from his current UK tour drive the efforts of Mr. Nice Guy.
"I'm just carrying the torch, and I'm just trying to push it forward," Perez says. "As hard as it is to be original, you have to try to find a way to be original; otherwise you're just another guy in the pack."
2013 MasterMind Award Finalists:
2013 MasterMind Award Honorable Mentions:
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