9 Mile began in the '90s as Bob Marley Festival, founded by the reggae legend's mother. It was a free show at Bayfront Park requiring only a donation of canned food for entry but has morphed over the past two and a half decades. Now known as 9 Mile Music Festival, it is held in the more apt island locale of Virginia Key Beach Park and demands a hefty entrance fee (though organizers still request donations of canned foods to feed the hungry in Miami and Jamaica).
The one thing that hasn't changed over the years is the commitment to providing a smorgasbord of reggae. From 1 p.m. to past 1 a.m., nearly a dozen reggae acts entertained the crowd. Old-school hip-hop served as a nightcap, with Nas and special guest P Diddy taking the stage at close to 2 a.m. Or was it 3 a.m., with daylight saving time going into effect during his 45-minute set?
Next was Busy Signal, who said he was making his Miami debut. His band backed him with synth-heavy dancehall. The Jamaican singer's vocal delivery was somewhere between singing and rat-a-tat rapping. His gravelly voice made it hard to decipher his lyrics until he showed off his versatility with a cover of Cat Stevens' "Wild World."
Shabba Ranks, the veteran singer best known for screaming "Shabba!" whenever the moment calls for it, was dressed in a dapper pink and white suit. "My attire is for breast cancer," he told the crowd. Then he crumpled up the notion he might be politically correct by adding, "I'm not into the #MeToo movement; I'm into the boom-boom movement." He brought out a female accompanist to sing "Telephone Love" and his trademark "Mr. Loverman," and proceeded to grind with her in what was apparently a boom-boom movement.
The enormous crowd (reportedly close to 15,000) behaved so pleasantly it could almost lead one to believe this site will be able to handle Ultra Music Festival in a couple of weeks. Regardless of the