Osunlade is, quite literally, the priest of deep, soulful house music -- a talented producer who left a promising mainstream career and shed the trappings of the American recording industry in favor of becoming a spiritual guide in the African religion of Ifa. And despite the reputation for excess levied on these shores, Osunlade has found Miami to be one of the most welcoming spots he has played in the country.
Aquabooty has been a local club staple for seven years, formerly a weekly event that has evolved into special-occasion productions. It has been in a miniature hibernation since the Winter Music Conference this past March, when it hosted a party with Osunlade and his label Yoruba Records. (The most buzzed-about moment of that night -- Osunlade and Quetzal performing a live version of Osunlade's remix of Radiohead's "Everything in Its Right Place" -- is up on YouTube.) Promoter and artist both are looking forward to building on the success of their last collective event.
"I always have a good time in Miami," the St. Louis-born Osunlade writes by e-mail from his home in Santorini, Greece. "I've always played for Aquabooty, and I think it's due to the set and crowd of supporters they have created. They know the music and are open to experience something that's not usually the setting for Miami clubs and/or DJs.
"I play very specific to the energy and vibe of the people and place," he says, "but most important, I play to educate people about new music. I'm not the type of DJ that will play what you expect, nor do I follow any formats. I play whatever moves me and hopefully inspires the crowd."
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That likely means a mixture of classics, hidden gems, and spanking-new material. Osunlade will be celebrating the forthcoming release of his new full-length, Elements Beyond, loosely based on his recent Ifa spiritual cleansing and conversion to the priesthood, a year-long process that included a seven-day reversion to newborn infancy. The album also commemorates the relaunch of Strictly Rhythm, one of house music's most beloved record labels. Rebirth is in the air all around. -- Tamara Palmer