“When the Heat moved from Miami Arena to American Airlines Arena in 1999, they were looking for a team DJ,” he recalls.
The Kendall native, who up till that job interview had only attended one Heat game, tells New Times: “I asked about their core audience and I deduced it wasn’t the demographic that saw me at the club or listened to my radio show. I figured doing it wasn’t keeping it real, so I said, ‘Thanks, but no thanks.'
“But then they called me back in for another interview. And when I learned no other professional sports franchise had a DJ, I wanted to give it a try. That’s how I got the job, I don’t know how I kept it.”
The DJ's upcoming 11th-annual Irie Weekend is as good a reason as any for why his job with the Heat is secure. Combining live music, pool parties, and a celebrity golf tournament, the three-day event aims to raise money to help South Florida’s at-risk youth find scholarship and mentorship opportunities.
“Last year at the 10th anniversary, we really tried to take it to the next level,” Irie says. “And this year we’re trying to maintain that momentum. So we’re starting off with Wyclef Jean performing with a full band. Then Friday night, we’ll have Jermaine Dupri DJing along with a surprise guest.”
When asked for hints about who that secret performer might be, he plays coy. “Last year’s surprise was Diddy performing. This year’s surprise is of that caliber, somebody who has been featured on songs with Diddy and Jay Z."
As a consolation, though, Irie offers: "I will tell you who the surprise at the Saturday-afternoon barbecue beach bash is. We’re taking it back to the days with 69 Boyz and some 'Tootsee Roll.'”
Finally, Saturday night’s closing party, which at the chime of midnight will mark DJ Irie’s birthday, is set to be hosted by one of his heroes, Timbaland. The megaclub throwdown will also feature a DJ set by Lil Jon.
Irie Weekend 2015 Schedule
Austin Mahone. A special appearance as part of #InspIrie Kids Golf Clinic. 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, June 18, at Miami Beach Golf Club, 2301 Alton Rd., Miami Beach. Visit irieweekend.com.
Wyclef Jean. As part of the Hublot VIP Kickoff Concert. 8 p.m. Thursday, June 18, at Irie Weekend Hotel at the Surfcomber, 1717 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $150 plus fees via eventbrite.com. Visit irieweekend.com.
Jeep Celebrity Golf Tournament. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, June 19, at Miami Beach Golf Club, 2301 Alton Rd., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $50 plus fees via eventbrite.com. Visit irieweekend.com.
Jermaine Dupri. As part of IWXI Friday Night. Presented by elit by Stoli. 11 p.m. Friday, June 19, at LIV, 4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-674-4680; livnightclub.com. Tickets cost $40 plus fees via flavorus.com. Visit irieweekend.com.
IWXI BBQ Beach Bash. With special surprise performances including 69 Boyz. Presented by Mtn Dew. Noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 20, at Irie Weekend Hotel at the Surfcomber, 1717 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $50 plus fees via eventbrite.com. Visit irieweekend.com.
Timbaland and Lil Jon. As part of IWXI Closing Party & Irie’s B-Day Celebration. Presented by Beck’s. 10:00 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. E11even Miami, 29 NE 11th St., Miami; 305-305-6611; 11miami.com. Tickets cost $20 to $40 plus fees via 11miami.urvenue.com. Visit irieweekend.com.
Just as Dwyane Wade needs to do some conditioning in the offseason to stay in game shape, might DJ Irie be spinning some records during the weekend named after him?
“Wyclef and I do a lot of shows together,” he says. “So Thursday night, I’ll collaborate on a song or two with him.”
It’s a safe bet to expect a couple of “Let’s Go Heat” chants too. The season is only four and a half months away.