Whatever you call him — Pitbull, Mr. 305, or his real name, Armando Christian Pérez — this talented young rapper stays ahead of the game. Last October he released his sophomore album, El Mariel, which quickly ranked on Billboard's charts as number one top independent album, and number two rap album. Despite losing his dad and best friend back to back last year while he was writing the record, he kept at his music, eulogizing both in the track "Raindrops," featuring local R&B songstress Anjuli Stars. And when word came down that Fidel Castro was on his deathbed, or possibly even dead, he headed over to the studio and recorded "Ya Se Acabó," with tight lyrics set to an Afro-Cuban beat. The message to Fidel: Shut up, it's over. Luther Campbell ("Uncle Luke"), who gave the rapper his first break, says Pit represents Miami well. He recalls the early days when he would take Pitbull's music to radio stations like Power 96, and they didn't want to play it. Airplay is far from a problem today. Pit's first album, M.I.A.M.I. (Money Is a Major Issue), was certified gold. He's appeared on MTV Tr3's Mi TRL and Univision's Sabado Gigante. But for the rapper, things are just getting started. His next project, a Spanish-language album titled Armando, is slated for release later this year. So what makes Pitbull so specialç For the ladies, it might be lyrics that highlight what he can do with his tongue. For everyone, it's clear: This artist has really grown since his debut album. He works his ass off, and has an uncanny talent for surmounting generational differences when things Cuban are concerned. Now he can't walk the streets of his native Little Havana without being approached for photos and autographs by people of all ages. He graciously obliges, and even signs dollar bills for them. Artistically, versatility is his golden ticket. "He can adapt to any style on any record. He can flip it: fast rap, slow rap. He keeps with the tempo," Campbell says. "His lyrics are incredible; he takes words right out of the air." Armando has paved the way. 2007 is the year of the Pitbull.
Luther Campbell paved the way for Pitbull, Trick Daddy, and Rick Ross. And his fight for freedom of speech, some say, laid the groundwork for performers like the late Notorious B.I.G. and Ludacris. You may remember Luke from his days with 2 Live Crew, when his album As Nasty as They Wanna Be launched a court battle over obscenity that went national. The album was deemed obscene by a Broward judge and led to the arrest of a Fort Lauderdale record store owner, as well as that of the group's members for performing songs from the album, which featured the hit single "Me So Horny." But in a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court, Uncle Luke prevailed. He also got the last laugh, because the publicity helped the album sell more than two million copies. Luke would face the courts again — for copyright infringement — and win. He eventually became a solo artist and launched his own label. He's credited with giving Miami rapper Pitbull (who he says is "like his son") his first break and was a pioneer in spotting Miami's, and Latin rappers', potential in the rap game. "Cubans are our brothers and sisters," he says. "Latinos in the U.S. ... I said, ÔI have to jump on that shit.'" Zay, a Miami rapper now living in Atlanta, recalls, "It was a learning process being around him. He takes you under his wing. He's bigger than just local — he's the pioneer of the South. He stood up for us and paved the way." Today Luke continues to tap new talent. "I don't look for artists every day," he says. "Artists are like girlfriends: Don't go looking for them, just let it happen."
Remember the first time you heard Trick Daddy's "Bet That"ç The track opens with a heavy-duty bassline exploding underneath voices fluttering like an operatic hiccup. T Double D's gravelly voice and Miami lilt are distinctive, so it didn't take you long to realize who it was. And once you did, you reached over to the dial and thought, "Been too long." And yes, it had been too long since the Dade County Mayor had been on the radio with something new. But one listen to the opening line of "Bet That" and Trick makes it clear that shit hasn't changed:Sitting high still riding on the big whips Still fly still grindin' getting big checks Still thuggin' still leanin' to the back You can bet that, you can bet that I ride I shine nigga you know I smoke I drank go loco 22s, 24s how we roll I'm a dunk rider fuhh sho'.
What happens when one of the most widely respected musicians in hip-hop sets up shop in the 305ç Although Timothy "Timbaland" Mosely is a Virginia boy to the core, you can find him chillin' behind gates in a two-story, $8 million compound in Pizzinecrest. And so far, you can go ahead and call 2007 the Year of Timbaland. He spent the year crafting hits for his new best friends Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado, and now he's claiming some of the spotlight for himself with Shock Value. Critical response has been mixed to say the least — Rolling Stone only gave it three stars and the New York Times lamented, "There are times when this CD feels more like a compilation, and times when Timbaland goes overboard trying to prevent that." Much of the criticism has been about Timbaland's poorly chosen list of collaborators — bringing rap/rock back by way of duets with She Wants Revenge and Fall Out Boy was a horrible misstep. But gaffes aside, there are some in-fucking-credible tracks on this album that make it more than worth the purchase for forward-thinking hip-hop fans. "Fantasy" is a pitch-perfect fast slow jam, and "Miscommunication" sounds like a lovemaking soundtrack for androids. "Give It to Me" is already burning up the charts, and the star of the album is "Bounce," which features oversexed verses by Dr. Dre and Missy Elliott. Timbaland's residency has already proven to be prolific. Now we're just waiting for Missy to move to Cutler Ridge.
These are hard times for Latin singers. What with everyone playing reggaeton and Latin hip-hop, there's almost no room on the radio for traditional Latin artists. So what's a young tropical singer to doç Adapt, of course. Miami's Andy Aguilera is the best example of the new breed of Latin crooners. After debuting in 2003 with the wonderful bachata-infused Cita de Amor, the Cuban-American vocalist invited Luny Tunes, from the top production team in reggaeton, to help him craft his new record. The result was Reggaeton Bachateo, a tropical bachata album with a modern reggaeton twist. A gifted singer/composer with a voice made especially for ballads, Andy Aguilera excels at bridging the gap between two generations of Latin music, while at the same time revitalizing the good old bachata ballad.
The rhythmic history of Cuban music rests firmly in Lazaro Alfonso's hardened hands. Every Thursday night the conga maestro joins Miami's celebrated Spam Allstars collective and turns up the heat at Little Havana's Hoy Como Ayer nightclub. Those fortunate to see Lazaro let loose will undoubtedly come away with one conclusion: When it comes to Afro-Caribbean rhythms, no one in Miami can hold a candle to Señor Alfonso. A youthful man, Lazaro has an enviable musical pedigree, earning his chops in the late Eighties as a conga player in Havana's world-famous Club Tropicana, where he performed as a member of legendary Cuban band Irakere. In Miami Lazaro has kept busy working on various projects with DJ Le Spam — who confirms that Lazaro is now officially working out cuts for a planned solo album.
As comedy icon/Tenacious D frontman Jack Black will attest, rocking is a serious endeavor, and only the truly righteous should attempt it. Miami's foursome Torche has proven its devotion to the fires of aural bombast. Established in 2005, Torche is the brainchild of lead singer/guitarist Steve Brooks and fellow guitarist Juan Montoya, who, along with Juan Nuñez and Rick Smith, produce the hardest, fastest, no-nonsense riffs in all of Miami-Dade. After making their eponymous debut, the local heroes earned critical raves in the national alternative music press, which celebrated Torche's groove-laden, multilayered sonic arrangements. The last two years have seen the boys hitting the road, touring the States and Europe, and even siring a coveted gig opening for the legendary group Mogwai. Having earned a rock-solid rep as one of the fiercest bands on the heavy music circuit, the members of Torche plan to release a batch of new material later this year, which should make the hometown's metal hipsters misty-eyed.
While some bands like to hide their musical influences, others proudly wear them on their sleeves. Latin rock band Feneiva belongs to the latter group and are all the better for it. Fronted by Miami Beach High alumni Fabian Hernandez and lead guitarist Angel Batrez, the chicos from Feneiva share as much with British band Coldplay as they do with Colombian roots music icon Carlos Vives. Founded in 2003, Feneiva has been hitting local clubs like Churchill's, the now-defunct I/O lounge, and Circa 28. Last year the band's hard work paid off as they scored a coveted weekly gig at Miami Beach's live music club Jazid, where they play original songs like the sentimental slow burner "Te Perdí" ("I Lost You") and improvise live jams in which drummer Victor Kirk, bassist Bruno Mendez, and guitarist Jesus Ortis effortlessly fuse the rhythms of R&B with the sounds of Brazilian samba. The group recently debuted a video for its song "Vacante" ("Vacant") on MTV Tr3s and hopes to release a full-length album that captures the unique Latin vibe of its live shows.
Local thrashician Mess €nger captured metal in two languages last fall when he released his two-DVD, two-CD box set, Monster of Loch Mess. Raised in a land where Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osborne, and Metallica never went out of style, the Guatemala-born artist has metal down to perfection, incorporating distorted guitar riffs, energetic synthesizers, classical violin, and dark, philosophical lyrics into his own signature sound of glam and hard rock.At the insistence of industry gurus, €nger stepped into a studio in 2003 to begin recording a greatest-hits compilation of his works that had already spent years in heavy bootleg circulation throughout Central America, Los Angeles, and Miami. The four-disc indie box comes with music videos, video clips about the making of those videos, and both English and Spanish versions of the album. It features a crazed blend of emotions. Songs like "I'm a Mess" and "Angry Little Angel" have listeners pounding three-pronged fists, while "Mama (I'm Gonna Change)" prompts introspective, child-pose rocking.
Some gals got all the skills, and local Argentine artist Jimena Fama, frontwoman for the electronica ensemble Tango Conspiracy, has the term "multifaceted" down to a musical science. In the last couple of years the young singer, producer, composer, and guitarist has masterminded three electronic tango, dub, acid jazz, and bossa nova albums on her Maktub Records label. She also performs regularly at sleek venues such as the Delano and Arturo Sandoval Jazz Club; has opened for the likes of Bajo Fondo Tango Club and Jorge Drexler; and contributed much of the stock music used in the 2006 Miami-based documentary La Gata, about a 79-year-old tango-singing diva. Fama is an empress in her own right. With half a nod the charming, soft-spoken artist has the ol' bandoneón players tangoed around her finger and catering to her every musical whim, of which there are plenty. The ching-ching of champagne glasses is about the only sound missing on Tango Conspiracy's latest album, Electro Dub Tango Meets Bossa Nova, one of a series of branded CDs Fama produced for Graziano's Argentinean restaurant chain here in Miami.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®