New Yorkers still think they run hip-hop. Canadians say, "It ain't dead. It lives in the North." L.A. radio plays more Pitbull than we do. Houston is still leaning off a never-ending cup of codeine. NOLA is doing it in the dark. Philly, Detroit, and Chi-Town are mad because it's winter.
In Miami, though, we're in shorts and a hoodie, kicking it with 70-degree weather and palm trees. The world has been looking to the MIA for street heat since before the first block party in the Bronx.
Here are ten groups and artists goin' hard in the 305 right now.
Miami local hip-hop
NoEmotion GoldMask. This one-man Wu Tang Clan raps like Mitch Hedberg choke-slamming Don Francisco through the afterlife. Recent live shows include an opening set for Blowfly. His low-pitched vocals and infinite punch-line scheme kill on record, and he's one video away from blowing up the Internet.
J. Nics. His signature polar bear flow and storytelling rap style put his life to music without sounding fake or made up. His Southern Niggas Ain't Slow: The Tribute tape features his voice over classic tracks by Master P, Outkast, and Three 6 Mafia. Look out for his next release, all original music, The Product.
Llamabeats. This crew makes Dade County house party music with a heavy Sublime influence. Last year you might have seen these Miami rockaz at La Covacha in Doral, Bardot in midtown, Kill Your Idol in South Beach, or Eve in downtown doing campaign fundraising with Uncle Luke. Their recordings feature live instrumentation, samples, and songs about drinking.
Serum and Manifesto. Straight-up NYC-sounding, 1995-style hip-hop with heavy lyrics and apocalyptic raps over dope instrumentals, this is graffiti-head, backpack, skateboard, big-headphones-on-the-Metrobus kinda shit.
MC Jumanji. Catch this party MC rapping his head off at the Vagabond for the monthly dubstep throwdown Get Low. Even with a rolling bass rumbling through your skull, you'll still hear Jumanji's free-form, improvised lyrics, rapped loudly and clearly enough to understand every word.
Wrekonize. This !Mayday! band member isn't just a battle rap champion; his solo tracks ring out regularly on one of the most trafficked radio stations in the nation. Catch "Mayday and Chardonnay" on DJ Entice's rush-hour mix show. Wrek's triple-time wordplay blasts faster than a TEC-9 spits.
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Garcia. Straight outta Kendall, reppin' Crazy Hood, and putting out new music since 1996, Garcia is still rappin' hungry. The past year has seen his aggression unleashed over Rage Against the Machine instrumentals, and his upcoming Off the Beaten Path EP features a roster of Miami heads including Noreaga and Omniscient.
Gunplay. Just because he's backed by Rick Ross doesn't make Gunplay mainstream. This Carol City chico's rapid-fire, hard-liquor, molly, choppers, and blunts flow pays bloody tribute to the street life and its consequences.
Jimmy Dade. Pirate radio loves him. So do the strip clubs. This business shark also licenses music to corporations such as MTV. He hails from North Miami, shouting out Brown Sub, Little Haiti, and Zoes with his music. His hooks and structures are sharper than a razor and stronger than reef rock.
Ice Billion Berg. This self-made South Dade lyrical monster has a dedicated fan base built on mixtapes, heavy regional hustling, and viral videos. He follows the R&B touring traditions of the South by rocking clubs in every corner of the FLA. Trick Daddy put him on when he was still in high school. Now the youngster is rapping like he's got an old soul.