Miami Funk Fest Challenges, "What Is Funk?"
Photo by Stian Roenning

Miami Funk Fest Challenges, "What Is Funk?"

What is funk?

It's Anthony Hamilton, Keith Sweat, and, of course, Atlanta — the city, that is — plus a hell of a lot more.

This Saturday, December 30, Miami Funk Fest will be held at Miramar Regional Park. It will include a varied and star-studded roster of artists. Uncle Luke, one of the festival performers, found fame fronting 2 Live Crew, where he rapped naughty lyrics over samples of bass-heavy songs and clever snippets from movies and comedy records. He became a household name in 1990, when local lawmakers declared the music obscene.

Not so coincidentally, when BET recently honored Uncle Luke, one of the performers who paid tribute to the controversial producer was Miami local and Funk Fest performer Trina. Beginning with Da Baddest Bitch in 2000, all of the Miami Northwestern grad's five albums have charted. You may be able to hear her play some new tracks at this show, because she's set to release her sixth record, and her first in eight years, this February.

There will also be national acts at Miami Funk Fest, such as North Carolina-born headliner Anthony Hamilton. You've heard Hamilton not only on his own songs but also as a contributor on tracks by the Game, Busta Rhymes, and Nappy Roots. "A lot of people want that old sound, that old grit," Hamilton once told New Times. "So they say, 'Let's get Anthony Hamilton to sing it, and you don't have to pay no licensing fee and you still get that same sound.' It's cheaper." 

Also on the bill is Keith Sweat, the Harlem-bred singer whose 1987 hit "I Want You" was distinctive enough to birth a new genre — new jack swing. Through the decades, Sweat has had six Top 10 records, but his ex-wife Lisa Wu is better known in some circles after starring in the reality show The Real Housewives of Atlanta.

The Atlanta quartet 112, with hits "Only You," "Anywhere," and "Peaches & Cream," rounds out the festival lineup. The silky-voiced group shot to fame on Puff Daddy and Faith Evans' tribute to Notorious B.I.G., "I'll Be Missing You." After a hiatus this past fall, 112 released its first new record in a dozen years, Q, Mike, Slim, Daron.

Do all or any of these performers qualify as funk? Stop by Saturday to hear if they pass the test.

Miami Funk Fest. 5 p.m. Saturday, December 30, at Miramar Regional Park, 16801 Miramar Pkwy., Miramar; miramarfl.gov; 954-883-6950. Tickets cost $55 to $200 via ticketmaster.com.

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