Heavy bass, ear-shredding distortion, booty beats, syrupy synths, and prime rhymes.
Even though the 305 is a sunny city, it's definitely got a weird, dark, and dirty side. So while this year's top local releases were often sexed-up and fun-obsessed, they were also experimental, X-rated, drugged-out, deeply gritty, and unrepentantly strange.
No doubt, an appropriately unpredictable soundtrack for these subtropical shores, lousy with clubs, coke, crime, punks, metalheads, party kids, art junkies, and a million other contradictions.
Here are Miami's best albums, EPs, and singles of 2012.
Rick Ross: God Forgives, I Don't (Def Jam/Maybach Music Group)
The Bawse's latest album isn't just an aural peak into his extraordinary world of riches. It's an abrasively personal record, peppered with too much information that we were all dying to know, but simply too scared to ask. For example, we'd always wondered what triggered Rozay's in-flight seizure. And thanks to "Maybach Music IV," we now know that oral sex played a critical role in the Bawse's brain spasm: "Yea, such a breath of fresh air/Get a blow job, have a seizure on a Lear." Does Ross ride the white horse? No, we learned that on "Amsterdam," when he raps, "These boys snort lines, I'm fine just sipping wine/Amsterdam in the air, tomorrow on my mind." Is the house paid for? Are there any tax liens? "Fornicate in my fortress, 40K still my mortgage/24K, my toilet, all my taxes reported." Clearly, nothing can hold Rozay back. Not even the IRS. Unnngggh. Victor Gonzalez
Holly Hunt: Year One
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Miami's Holly Hunt lets you savor the deliciousness of metal at its barest. There's no force-feeding. It's about the appreciation of simple, brutal sounds. With the duo's newly released Year One, out on Other Electricities and Roofless Records, drummer Beatriz Monteavaro and guitarist Gavin Perry present a gentle yet heavy ten-track slab of slow, head-rocking throb and drawn-out, distorted sludge. Both bandmates and partners, Monteavaro plays with a smile and Perry with intensity. No one goes to a Holly Hunt show and leaves saying, "Meh." And this album is no different than a live performance. You may have heard the songs before, but they still taste fresh and vital. Liz Tracy
Metro Zu: Zuology
Have you ever sped through "Coketown, USA" with your "CyberSpacePimpGang" toward a "Posh Party on the Beach" while screaming "Gimme Kush Gimme Face" at extraterrestrial hoes who you don't even know? Obviously not. 'Cause you aren't Metro Zu, the self-described "intergalactic communications team" responsible for these 21 superfilthy, acid-soaked, sex-obsessed, psychedelic party rap tracks. As chief Zuologist Lofty 305 recently told New Times, it's all "about pimpin and drugs and having fun ... Exploring other realms and shit. It's cranked up." S. Pajot
Steven A. Clark: Fornication Under Consent of the King
While most quote-unquote urban acts in Miami are concerned with dropping tracks for the club, R&B auteur Steven A. Clark has perfected the art of making music for the post-party comedown. The deeply personal, playfully named Fornication Under Consent of the King (or F.U.C.K.), Clark's second epic statement in as many years (the first being last year's Stripes), is best heard while driving over the bridge barely sober at sunset. It is every bit as fresh, complex, and mature as this year's far more hyped alt-R&B releases from Frank Ocean and Miguel. Jesse Serwer
Otto Von Schirach: Supermeng
In 1883's Thus Spoke Zarathustra, radical German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote dreamily about a transcendentally superior human specimen named the übermensch. But if Freddy had been scribbling Spanglish notes from a Hialeah efficiency apartment in the summer of 2012, he might've chosen to call his creature the Supermeng. Or maybe even Otto von Schirach. Because this latest transmission of otherworldly bass weirdness (released via Monkeytown Records, the label run by Berlin-based experimental electronic duo Modeselektor) proves again that Otto is undoubtedly the most perfect musical being to ever emerge from the "Miami triangle." S. Pajot
GTA: "Booty Bounce/Shake Dem" EP
So you're up in the club with a bitch who don't know how to act. Well, GTA will tell her. Bitches love GTA. Especially after the Kendall EDM duo dropped the massive "Booty Bounce/Shake Dem" EP on Diplo's Mad Decent label. It's only two tracks, but any extra bang might have crippled the dance floor. "Booty Bounce," featuring a nasty DJ Funk sample, is the kind of ass-twerker that routinely causes near-naked chaos. And "Shake Dem" is a tropical sex anthem with a driving bassline and an unforgettable hook. Both of these big-room killers will slaughter the club and get all the girls dancing like sluts. Guaranteed. Kat Bein
J. Nics: SNAS: The Product
J. Nics has been one of the most likable and respected MCs on Miami's rap scene for some time now. But 2012 was definitely a breakout campaign for the "Polar Bear Mack." While the Miami Gardens native stayed active all year (even releasing another full-length record, Darkside, with Atlanta producer Burn One this month), Nics's growing profile in Florida and beyond is mostly due to May's SNAS: The Product. A free online release that deserves to be recognized as an album, The Product was as cohesive as mixtapes get, offering a ruminative, relatable look inside Nics' creative mind. With its combination of thoughtful wordplay and bottom-heavy trap beats, it confirmed that Nics is an MC capable of defying hip-hop's regional divisions. Jesse Serwer
O'Grime: Pearl Necklace
Aside from "gettin' gwap and eating tacos," O'Grime is all about the kind of hilariously nasty next-level rap that snatches its swag from "hip-hop, trap, dubstep, house, metal, hardcore, trance, jazz, 2-step garage, drum 'n' bass, everything!" In 2011, L.Rey and Niko dropped a wild and raunchy nine-song eponymous EP, stacked with tracks like "Kush Smoke & Pussy" and "Domework." But homies wiled out even harder in 2012, unleashing a hot and sticky full-length release, Pearl Necklace, adorned with a fine lady's long, beautiful neck and plentiful boobs wearing jewelry made of ejaculate. Now, as L. Rey and Niko say: "Erbody yoppin!" S. Pajot
TEEPEE: Distant Love or: Time Never Meant Anything, and Never Will
TEEPEE sure is different from Teepee, Erix S. Laurent's delicate one-man drone-pop project that was a New Times Best of Miami winner in 2010. For starters, not even REO Speedwagon had the balls to capitalize its full name. Plus, TEEPEE is now a really fucking loud five-piece, filled out by a rotating cast of musicians from Miami's best bands, including Deaf Poets and Little Beard. And this second LP: It's a gorgeous, fuzzed-out masterwork that weaves between aural punishment and sublime beauty without ever losing the plot. Awesome. Actually, we mean AWESOME. Benjy Caplan
Jesse Perez: "Jesse Don't Sport No Jerry Curl"
If future archaeologists dig up Jesse Perez's records a thousand years from now, they will conclude that those ancient Miamians were sex-crazed freaks obsessed with grinding on each other. And would they be wrong? This DJ, producer, and Mr. Nice Guy Records label boss makes music for one reason and one reason only: to make chongitas bounce their booties on the floor. And when the ultra-hyped Hot Creations label released "Jesse Don't Sport No Jerry Curl" and B-side "Dejen De Comer Tanta Pinga" in March, they also launched Jesse Perez as Miami's new international ambassador of sleazy fun-loving house. Sean Levisman
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SpaceGhostPurrp: Mysterious Phonk: The Chronicles of SpaceGhostPurrp
All-black swag. That's Carol City rapper SpaceGhostPurrp's absolute essence. He is the self-described "Black God" who leads a sprawling, volatile rap collective called the Raider Klan. He digs vampires. He always chooses charcoal-colored clothes. And he's an intensely moody dude who ain't afraid of "fightin' fake motherfuckers." So obviously, Mysterious Phonk -- the 21-year-old official debut album, following several rep-making mixtapes -- is a strange, dark, syrupy trip into sex, paranoia, and violence. It's also a masterpiece. And if he doesn't deliver on his threats to retire, SGP might be the 305's next real rap legend. S. Pajot