9 Mile Music Festival Would Have Made Bob Marley Proud

Protoje takes the stage at the 23rd annual 9 Mile Music Festival.
Protoje takes the stage at the 23rd annual 9 Mile Music Festival.
Photo by George Martinez

The Historic Virginia Key Beach Park’s palm tree amphitheater was the perfect setting for one of Miami’s best concerts of the infantile 2016 calendar. Ocean views, mangroves, and the natural setting beautifully matched the One Love vibes coming from the stage.

At 1 p.m., when the gates first cracked open, a wave of Bob Marley T-shirts stormed the beach for a full day of hip-hop and reggae that wouldn't finish up until 11:30 p.m.

The trinity of the show was the incomparable and undefeated energy of Capleton, the effortless flow of Nas — who, yes, still has it — and the unselfish, brilliant performance from the Marley brothers. Capleton, the Jamaican reggae and dancehall legend, doesn’t go onstage — he takes it over. In a day that was all about the Marleys, he stole the show with a level of energy matched only by a massive pyrotechnics budget. 

Bob Marley's legacy lives on through the 9 Mile Music Festival.
Bob Marley's legacy lives on through the 9 Mile Music Festival.
Photo by George Martinez

Nas played the songs we all know and love — “One Mic,” “If I Ruled the World,” “Life’s a Bitch,” and other classics. It was more a sermon than a set, an effortless performance that could only happen after 25 years of hustle and hard work. The end of the night was capped by the Marley brothers: Stephen, Damian, and Julian. All three took the stage at once and shared the mic for over an hour of originals and Bob Marley tributes.

It's just about a fact that no reggae artist will ever live up to the legend of Bob Marley, and though his kin might never shine as bright, they certainly do not disappoint. From the time the brothers took the stage with Stephen and Damian’s original, “The Mission,” it was an onslaught of nonstop reggae fire. Each brother seamlessly transitioned from lead to backup and kept the show moving cleanly. This year’s set seemed to include more Julian showcases than last year, as Damian and Stephen took a step back to let their brother shine. 

There was no shortage of smoke on Key Biscayne.
There was no shortage of smoke on Key Biscayne.
Photo by George Martinez

The 9 Mile Music Festival has been going on since 1993, benefiting charity and giving Marley fans a reason to mark their calendars for 23 years now. Luckily, the Marley lineage is strong. New talent like Skip Marley gives us reason to hope for another 23 years of 9 Mile.

It's safe to say Bob Marley would be onboard with that.


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