For all too many national music snobs, Miami is good for only Gloria Estefan nostalgia and Ultra Music Festival electro partying. But contrary to what other major cities would have you believe, the Magic City is a petri dish teeming with radical development. We may be comparatively small in size, but we have a million sonic flavors from which to choose. Miami's DJ DZA, famous for his handiwork on the Peach Fuzz parties, has been all over the world, and he recognizes the talent brewing in his own backyard. That's why he gathered his audiophile friends and founded Rear View Records, a label without any regard to genre or style. The only rule to being signed: You've got to be good, and you've got to be from Miami. It's a young label with just a few releases so far, among them the '90s house-style banger "Get Into Something" from LTENGHT and 305 vocalist B.Wav, as well as an EP from DZA favorite dark dream band Kodiak Fur. With a tons of other products in the works for 2016 in both digital and physical releases, Rear View Records already reflects everything that's brilliant and weird about Miami's music scene.

Umi Selah and Aja Monet created Smoke Signals Studio with the community in mind. For them, this is not a business, but a personal mission. The two run the studio out of their own Little Haiti home. Monet is a Brooklyn-born poet of Cuban-Jamaican descent. Selah was born in Chicago and, after graduating from Florida A&M University, cofounded the Florida activist group Dream Defenders. "A smoke signal is something that someone sends up when they're stranded, when they have lost all hope and they're looking for somebody to take notice and rescue them," Selah says. The concept for the studio is similar: to give a creative outlet to Miami's disenfranchised and underserved. Back then, Selah and Monet had hoped to raise $10,000 to get things off the ground. They ended up collecting more than $15,000, and now Smoke Signals is up and running. Because they operate out of their shared home, Selah and Monet prefer to keep their address private. But it's not difficult to get in touch with them. If you're in need of studio space and a warm, collaborative, uplifting environment, shoot an email to smokesignalsstudio@gmail.com and get the music started.

Bardot
Courtesy of Bardot

On the eve of Easter, Miami was blessed with the most beautiful, sweaty, and queer show the city has possibly ever seen. As the clock struck midnight Saturday, calling an end to Semana Santa's pious restraint, restorative vibes from Gooddroid, Poorgrrrl, Junglepussy, and Le1f rained down upon Bardot's intimate dance floor. Bardot's main stage is really just a quaint square. And as Junglepussy emerged, there was nothing blocking revelers from getting down with the 24-year-old New York-based rapper. So they did. But JP didn't mind — this is what she loves. She wiped sweat from her face and stayed hydrated with a nearby water bottle between belting out bangers such as "Get to Steppin" and "Spicy 103 FM." During Le1f's set, somehow two backup dancers fit behind the rapper — who has broken boundaries as a commercially successful gay hip-hop artist. Le1f enticed the crowd, keeping the energy up at all times. By the end of his set, all boundaries between the artist and the spectators had been lost. Miami's music freaks encircled him, feeding off one another's energy, moshing together as one sweaty unit until, finally, he had to leave.

Ball & Chain
Courtesy of Ball & Chain

The last Thursday of every month, Miami's best local jazz station, WDNA (88.9 FM), broadcasts live from Calle Ocho's favorite lovingly restored club, Ball & Chain. It's fitting, really, considering the venue: In its first iteration during the '30s, '40s, and '50s, it hosted jazz legends such as Billie Holiday, Count Basie, and Chet Baker. Today, Ball & Chain continues the rich tradition of live jazz, bringing local and national talent to the iconic pineapple stage on the back patio of the Little Havana bar. There's no cover charge, and no one will bat an eyelash if you get up and bust a few moves. Jazz in Miami is a rare bird, but when you're lucky enough to see it spread its wings, there's no better place to bear witness than Ball & Chain, with a Calle Ocho old-fashioned firmly planted in one hand.

Blackbird Ordinary
Courtesy of Blackbird Ordinary

If it's Tuesday and you're in Brickell, you should be at Blackbird. If it's Tuesday and you're in Brickell and you have two X chromosomes, you absolutely need to be at Blackbird. One of the funkiest, most authentic spots in Miami's financial district, Blackbird is a solid choice any night of the week. But Tuesday, with free cover for everyone (yes, even the guys), the deals are too good for a woman to pass up. From 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., ladies drink free. Any well drink her heart desires, as well as the bar's signature cocktail, the Blackbird, costs the very reasonable price of zero dollars. With a DJ spinning inside and fresh air available out back, Blackbird knows how to take care of the fairer sex. Drink up, ladies. Lord knows you deserve it.

Let's face it: Wynwood's acclaimed Art Walk ain't for everyone. For every art fiend who feeds off the giant crowds and jam-packed galleries there's a claustrophobe who prefers fewer selfie sticks with his modern art. There's hope for the shy art patrons of the Magic City. It's called Secret Garden. The semisecret monthly gathering takes place at various venues throughout Wynwood but always brings that right mix of the bizarre and the captivating for which Art Walk was once known before becoming Miami's biggest monthly party. Admission is usually free if you RSVP early enough, but at most will cost you $10 to get in the door. The event and locale vary from month to month. Recently, Secret Garden hosted techno wizard's Audiofly for its carnival-inspired fest, Flying Circus, where strongmen and fire-breathers mingled to thumping tracks. Other months have brought microfestival Desert Hearts. One never quite knows what to expect when walking into Secret Garden. But whatever greets you inside, it's better than staring at some boring painting you can't afford.

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Courtesy+of+FUNDarte
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Last year, local purveyor of swinging international music Rhythm Foundation took over management of this beachside gem of an outdoor amphitheater. Since then, the North Beach Bandshell has lured a wide swath of musicians from around the globe, from the hipster-chic Brazilian Girls to the Mexican hip-hop jazz of Troker to the buzz-worthy French-Cuban sisters of Ibeyi. But the Bandshell has also made sure to color the bills with the best music the 305 has to offer. For the recent TransAtlantic Festival, the Haitian Afro-indie-rock of Kazoots and the boogie-funk of Psychic Mirrors graced the stage. Last autumn, the venue hosted the Death to the Sun Festival, where 27 local acts were given 15-minute sets to show off their stuff, as well as Mooncake Jam, where Afrobeta, Telekinetic Walrus, and Jesse Jackson jammed partiers into the night. Best of all, the space is a gem. Crowds sway under strands of lights and palm trees just a few steps from the beach. Sea breezes inspire artists and tempt audience members to wander off and listen to the roar of waves between sets. Plus, it doesn't hurt your wallet that there's free street parking after 6 p.m.

The Fillmore Miami Beach
Photo by Jason Koerner

A couple of years ago, the Fillmore's very existence was in doubt due to the city's plans to overhaul the nearby Miami Beach Convention Center. Some politicians pushed for a massive new hotel to take its place. Though the venue drips with history thanks to being the home of The Jackie Gleason Show from 1964 to 1970, it wasn't eligible for historic protection because most of the building was gutted by the time Live Nation took it over in 2007. These days, the Fillmore is safe from the wrecking ball (for now, because this is prime Miami Beach real estate after all). If the city ever thinks about touching the Fillmore, let's hope it will remember that in this past year alone, Live Nation brought acts such as New Order, Iggy Pop, Purity Ring, My Morning Jacket, and Metric to grace its expansive stage. The venue is also one of the most ideal live music settings in the city, with superb acoustics and a great sight line, even from the seating areas near the back. And because Miami loses a music venue seemingly every year — Grand Central was the casualty in 2015 — we can't afford to lose another.

Readers' choice: The Fillmore Miami Beach

Bardot
Courtesy of Bardot

Big things come in small packages, and stellar performances come without a stage. Such must be the philosophy behind Bardot. For nearly seven years, this hipster hideaway has been home to some of the most intimate and memorable performances across genres and styles, from rappers like Danny Brown and Jonwayne to DJs like James Murphy and Gaslamp Killer and even electronic bands like Yelle and Holy Ghost. Named for '60s sex kitten Brigitte Bardot, the venue features an interior decorated with trippy projections and NSFW images of girls getting down and dirty. Smoking is allowed inside, and you'll likely breathe in a few varieties of smoke, but it all adds to the naughty nightlife atmosphere. A pool table sits in the back, a few couches for VIP tables and general lounging are scattered about, and the bookings are consistently next-level. That's why Consequence of Sound recently named Bardot the 83rd-best music venue in the nation. Not bad for a 300-capacity hole in the wall in midtown.

Who's the baddest dude to ever touch golden Technics? Who was so unstoppable on the ones-and-twos that the DMC World Championship had to tell him it was no longer fair that he should get to compete? Who is the DJ so brash, so bold, and so ballsy that he spits out a battle routine calling superstars out by name, turning tricks with nothing touching the record but his back? Craze isn't just the best DJ in Miami; Craze is one of the best turntablists in the world. We're lucky to have a living legend in our town, and he puts this city on his shoulders, constantly repping at shows and putting on talented sounds via his homegrown label Slow Roast Records. If you haven't seen his "New Slaves Routine," you might not be a DJ fan, and if you haven't listened to his 2¢ mixes — his recent collaborative project with fellow fckboi killer Four Color Zack — well, you're just kind of a whack jokester. Every time you see a Craze set, you see something that blows your mind. His style will never get old, because it's the truth.

Readers' choice: DJ Irie

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®