With the local rap community still reeling from the recent murder of Broward star XXXTentacion while simultaneously celebrating the induction of four South Florida rappers into XXL's coveted Freshman Class, all eyes are on the Miami hip-hop scene.
Now comes the latest player: Lit Up Music Festival, an independent hip-hop event debuting this weekend at the RC Cola Plant in Wynwood. The inaugural lineup, though heavy on the current SoundCloud rap movement, is stacked with promising up-and-comers who have the clout to back up all the online ballyhoo. Most notable is headliner Juice WRLD, who signed a major-label deal with Interscope this past March for a rumored $3 million and officially released his breakthrough single, “Lucid Dreams,” which peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and has since gone gold and platinum in multiple countries.
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Also on the Lit Up lineup is controversial rapper 6ix9ine, AKA Tekashi69. His status as festival headliner was put in jeopardy after he was arrested two weeks ago for allegedly choking a 16-year-old at a mall in Houston. But now both representatives for Lit Up and the artist himself, according to his Facebook page, confirm he will indeed perform.
Lit Up, the city’s latest homegrown series, is produced by Imagination TV Inc. and Nine Mile Entertainment, the latter being the team behind Miami’s celebrated, long-running roots and reggae 9 Mile Music Festival. It has concentrated heavily on local rap artists including Smokepurpp, one of this year’s XXL Freshman Class picks; local rapper and actress Brianna Perry; JACC; Young Cheddah; 3Fortori; and VNO400.
“We feel there’s a lot of talent in Miami, so we definitely wanted to give them a platform to highlight that,” says Sharien F., vice president of Nine Mile Entertainment.
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They aim to bring the same sense of community, positivity, unity, and humanitarianism that 9 Mile delivers through its annual canned food drive. The reciprocity, however, will depend upon the crowds. “We promote the 9 Mile Music Festival; it's all about peace and one love,” Sharien says. “For us, it's just about bringing people together and enjoying it.”
Lit Up Music Festival. With Tekashi69, Yo Gotti, Juice WRLD, Smokepurpp, and others. 8 p.m. Saturday, July 28, at the RC Cola Plant, 550 NW 24th St., Miami; 305-665-6379; litupmusicfestival.com. Tickets cost $75 to $170 via eventnation.co.