The Chipotle Cultivate Festival will be the live music equivalent of the Mexican restaurant chain's diverse menu. Just as customers have a range of options in meats and toppings, attendees of the company's signature event can choose to enjoy craft beer and desserts from local artisans, demos by celebrity chefs, food and wine tastings, and live music by national touring acts throughout the day. And unlike Chipotle's food and perhaps most appealing is the price: nada.
For the first time in its seven-year history, Cultivate comes to Miami at Bayfront Park this Saturday. Like its predecessors, the free, single-day festival is set to feature a busy mixture of education and entertainment. The family-friendly event includes a kids' zone, affordable offerings from Miami breweries, and a fantastic musical lineup: Capital Cities, St. Lucia, Clean Bandit, Phases, and Sam Feldt are all scheduled to perform.
Best of all, Gamal "LunchMoney" Lewis, Miami's rising hip-hop star, comes home from abroad to kick off Cultivate.
"They were like, 'You wanna come rock?'" Lewis says by phone from his hotel room in Sydney. He jumped at the opportunity because he doesn't get the chance to perform in his hometown as often as he'd like. "I've never really done [shows in Miami]," he says. "So I was excited to come play Bayfront, bring the band out, and do some cool shit."
And, of course, there's the added benefit of playing a music festival that's also a food fest.
"It's Chipotle, so hopefully I get a card, some free burrito bowls for life," he says.
As an artist with the word "lunch" in his name, Lewis would surely have a go-to Chipotle order, wouldn't he? "I'd say the burrito bowl," he swiftly concludes. "You know, the brown rice with the pinto beans, the onions, a little sour cream..."
In the meantime, Lewis is enjoying his time down under — somehow not jet-lagged (he was in Miami less than a week ago) and still humble as can be.
"It's a lot of fun. I'm not gonna act like it's stressful," he laughs. Lewis' records are huge hits in Australia, with his most successful single, "Bills," topping the charts at number one and going twice platinum. As one might expect, it was something of a surprise to Lewis, but he appreciates his new Aussie fans.
Lewis is still putting the finishing touches on his highly anticipated debut LP and emphasizes patience. He does, though, give an exclusive teaser for some upcoming collaborations.
"I'm not really rushing the album. I want to give people more music — let them get to know me. I want [the album] to be something special... I got the Pitbull and Flo Rida record, 'Greenlight' — that's out right now; got some more music with them. I've got a song with Ty Dolla $ign coming out in a few weeks; that's really dope. I don't wanna give away too much. That's the first time I talked about that record too, but you know, this is Miami New Times — this is the home team. So better they know first."
As popular as Lewis has become overseas, he's a Miami kid at heart. His father Ian and uncle Roger are both members of the '90s reggae group Inner Circle, and the two run the famous North Miami recording studio Circle House Studios. Maybe Lewis was always destined to be part of the fertile Miami hip-hop/rap scene.
"Music always affected me," he says, looking back on his youth. "Being around my dad and my uncle — just being around Inner Circle — it was never a thing where he pushed me. It just really took a part of my life, and I just always loved it."
Lewis warmly recites the names of fellow neighborhood rappers who have always been pillars of support — no matter how big they might have gotten.
“We run into each other all the time," Lewis says. "Pit[bull] supports me all the time. I remember I did Summertime Ball in London last year and that’s when ‘Bills’ first came out and I saw Pit. It was the first I’d seen him in a while and I just remember how happy he said he was for me. How all the hard work paid off. He was really genuinely happy. I sent him a song the next day and he sent me something. Pit’s the most humble dude. Flo’s always been super supportive. I feel like I’ve kind of been like the little brother and they’ve all seen how hard I grind and really wanted this.”
In fact, it was another of Lewis’ most ardent supporters, famed hip-hop and R&B producer, Salaam Remi, that christened him “LunchMoney.” It’s a moniker he not only fully embraced from the very beginning, but one that exemplified the inherent confidence that’s brought the 28-year-old this far.
“I thought it was funny," he says. "I think I’ve been blessed to always know who I am. I’ve always been a big kid. I've never been shy. I never had a problem getting girls. I’ve never been bullied... When Salaam Remi named me Lunch, I was working with him for a long time. He’s like a mentor of mine... I think I was keen enough to be like, yo that’s dope. I’m gonna roll with that. I ran with it and it stuck forever. I was never insulted. Fat jokes never worked on me. It was always all good.”
Chipotle Cultivate Festival. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, November 12, at Bayfront Park, 301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-358-7550; chipotlecultivate.com. Admission is free.