Best Herald Photographer 2023 | Carl Juste | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

Miami Herald photographer Carl Juste has been at it for decades. Since 1991, the award-winning photojournalist has been holding his camera up to the injustices, scandals, and beauty that surround South Florida, while bringing empathy and a strong moral compass to his work. That work was deservingly spotlighted in last year's HBO documentary Endangered, which featured Juste and three other journalists discussing how freedom of the press is under attack abroad and in the U.S. It's been said in industry circles that if you want to know what's going on in Miami, figure out where Juste is. You'll find him in hurricane-ravaged suburbs, at protests against police brutality, inside the homes of vulnerable migrants, and anywhere else history is being made in the moment.

As a reporter, it's important to ask the hard questions and awaiting those answers can often be long and fraught — but never when they're directed at Miami Police Department spokesman Orlando Rodriguez. Rodriguez respects tight deadlines, assists with public-records requests, and responds to inquiries seemingly 24/7 (sometimes within minutes!). Rodriguez has never dodged a request for comment or ghosted us completely unlike other media liaisons with other public agencies (we're glaring at you, City of Miami).

Photo by Cola Greenhill-Casados

You'd be forgiven for thinking Jonathan Escoffery's 2022 debut, If I Survive You, is a memoir. Throughout much of the book, the author, who was raised in Miami by Jamaican parents, uses second-person narration to tell the story of Trelawny, a Jamaican-American boy growing up in Miami in the '90s and coming of age in the post-recession aughts. ("On the day you are scheduled to begin the sixth grade, a hurricane named Andrew pops your house's roof open.... Nor do you share your concern that in Miami, great city of cons, you're as likely to wind up getting your organs harvested as you are to make a profit here.") The book, a compilation of eight related short stories, reads like a novel, telling a continuous story while jumping back and forth in time and closing with Trelawny scrapping to buy his father's sinking home in Cutler Ridge. It's a fairy-tale ending fit for Miami and what Trelawny describes as the Magic City's "aroma of promise": that at any time, "you are a single lucky break from becoming one of the haves."

Photo by Karli Evans

There are few places on this peninsula where discophiles can uncover a rare reissued vinyl in mint condition and a well-worn copy of the 2 Live Crew's As Nasty as They Wanna Be under the same roof. Praise Technique Records, which has been providing Miami vinyl aficionados with a trove of more than 20,000 new and used records since 2017. While you can peruse all of Technique's inventory on its website, it's worth browsing the aisles of the 79th Street headquarters to take in the giant posters for cult-classic movies, the vast selection of DVDs and VHS and cassette tapes, and a staff eager to help you navigate the row upon row of sonic treasures.

Vinyl takes a long time to press. It's also clunky. Whether it sounds better than an MP3 is up for dance-floor debate. None of that deterred a ragtag group of University of Miami grads from creating the vinyl-only record label Sports Records. In six years, the label, spearheaded by Michael Bird, Jacob Friedland, Kyle Parker, Will Cormier, and Daniel Edenburg (AKA Brother Dan), has generated nine releases, 42 parties, and an unmistakable house sound that is sleek and sexy. Turntable fodder aside, the label is known for its funk-filled parties at Floyd and at warehouses across the Magic City, so the uninitiated will have plenty of opportunities to savor their production cred.

Omnidisc photo

How do you condense Miami's electronic music scene into one album? If you're Omnidisc, you don't. The Danny Daze-led label released Homecore! Miami All-Stars last December, with a whopping 44 tracks from the city's top producers. No one is left behind on this release, from the long-established like Otto Von Schirach, Jesse Perez, Murk, and Dino Felipe to emerging acts like Nick León, INVT, La Goony Chonga, and Sister System. So deft is Daze's curatorial touch that he even managed to lure producer and scene icon Push Button Objects out of retirement to contribute to the project. Taken together, the compilation gives you an auditory peek into where Miami's electronic music scene has been, where it is, and where it's going — and the future sounds exciting.

If you're familiar with R&B and hip-hop artists Pouya, DRAM, Cedric Brazle, and Zya, you should also know Justin Wiggins, who has manned the boards to produce some of their signature sounds. Most recently, Wiggins teamed with Twelve'len and Denzel Curry to produce their single, "Lady Draco" with a moody, shape-shifting beat. Wiggins — who is inspired by Brandy, Justin Timberlake, Destiny's Child, and Donell Jones — is orchestrating a contemporary spin on early 2000s R&B and hip hop. His growing roster of hits signals that his vision for R&B is taking root. "I want to make an impact on R&B, especially being from Florida and Miami," Wiggins says.

Photo by Leon Velazquez

Inspired by alternative Latin scenes they discovered in metropolises in Central and South America, Miami natives Golden Flora and Darwin Figueroa are on a mission to show that Latin music expands beyond reggaeton. Performing as Oro Fresco, the duo mixes electronic music, hip-hop, and comedy to create a sound that's unique yet not too discordant to dissuade anyone from the dance floor. This year saw the release of Oro Fresco (Remixes), a collection of four tracks reinterpreted by other artists messing around with the band's Spanish-language tracks in praise of marijuana and in dread of the climate crisis.

Ginga Soul photo

It's been a couple of years since Ginga Soul dropped her EP On My Mind. For anyone concerned that the Miami-based artist might've lost her way, the release of her new single "Karmic" this past spring put all doubts to rest. In a collaboration with rapper A'Sean, the song pairs Ginga Soul's sultry vocals with laidback beats reminiscent of the neo-soul of Erykah Badu with a tinge of Janet Jackson's coffee shop R&B. Just like the six-song EP that preceded it, "Karmic" showcases a new and emerging voice that continues to hit all the right notes.

Photo by Olivier Lafontant

Trapland Pat was raised in Deerfield Beach but he embodies his Haitian descent, neighborhood, and upbringing with sprouting bonks, flashing diamond grills, and an animated persona. He entered the scene full-time in 2018 after a drug charge led the loss of his football scholarship at a small Indiana college where he'd played wide receiver. Since then, he has released a handful of mixtapes and singles, including his 2020 breakout banger, "Big Business," which was remixed by Rick Ross. On his latest mixtape, Trapnificent, Trapland Pat joined forces with fellow Broward County producer Pepperjack Zoe and Baton Rouge rapper Fredo Bang. The results are versatile tracks that bridge regional sounds with piano-heavy trap beats and introspective verses on money, street life, and women. The catchy, melodic tracks are vaguely reminiscent of Kodak Black but his breezy cadence and straightforward delivery are all his own.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®