Avicii, Tiësto, Afrojack, and other superstar DJs of the ilk may be all the rage come Miami Music Week and Ultra Music Festival, but as the undisputed party playground of the South, the 305 has its own set of equally talented DJs in our own backyard.
We're talking the beat bangers you've been partying with since before Wynwood was cool — the vinyl-spinners who never fail to turn your night into a rager, no matter what day of the week it is, and the ride-or-die club rats who rep the 305 everywhere they go.
While the Magic City has an abundance of gifted music makers, we've narrowed it down to the ten best DJs (and by DJs we mean club DJs — not electronic acts like Otto Von Schirach and Afrobeta) who currently call Miami home. Keep them in mind come Miami Music Week, because, when the dust clears and the tourists fly home, don't forget who will still be here fighting for your right to party.
10. Michelle Leshem
As the creative mastermind behind SuperMarket Creative, Michelle Leshem and her crew have been responsible for organizing some of the coolest events in the Magic City, helping local and international brands find their style and tap hip demographics. Come nightfall, though, Leshem takes Miami's club rats on a "melody-driven, era-hopping" spin on the dance floor. Aside from hitting the club with her blend of "disco, synths, and deep melodies," Leshem works as head of music programming at downtown Miami's Libertine. With the ability and reputation of throwing some of the most creative parties you'll ever attend (and the DJ skills and musical taste to match), Leshem is a triple threat.
Uchi discovered her love for space-age house and techno while working on her Dead Air radio show at the University of Miami's WVUM 90.5. Today, Uchi has created a nightlife concept surrounding her passion for "dark voids, shimmering lights, and the sound of the space between them" — and it's called Cyborgs. She started throwing the party back at the Electric Pickle last August. "I've always been enthusiastic about synthesizers and sort of '80s-sounding music," the DJ told New Times back in 2014. While the party has slowed down a bit, Uchi is now focusing more on her live sets. In fact, she recently played a live boiler room in Tulum, Mexico, and is working on releasing new music.
8. Santiago Caballero
There's no escaping the deep-house vibes of Santiago Caballero. As one of Slap & Tickle's resident DJs, Caballero and the S&T crew have taken the underground nightlife scene by storm. "Slap is very personal for me, because if it wasn't for this party, I probably wouldn't be DJ'ing right now," Caballero told New Times last year. Whether behind the booth at Bardot during S&T's weekly Tuesday-night residency or after hours every other Saturday at E11even Rooftop, Caballero puts his heart and soul into his music, and it makes you want to dance.
7. Dude Skywalker
Dude Skywalker has "time-traveled from the year 3046 to bring you dance music of the future." As self-proclaimed "explorers of sound with no regard for genres, time, or space — just that good shit," the Dudes — Sam Plessett, Alex Borges, and Fabio Galarce — are spreading futuristic party vibes across the 305. Though the threesome hasn't officially released new material since its 2014 EP, Together, the trio played a set during last year's III Points Festival. Nowadays, you can find them spinning tropical space-disco beats at Bardot or the Electric Pickle. But be warned — the Dudes are known for playing Jedi mind tricks on fans, so don't be surprised if you end up dancing your pants off.
6. Jessica Who
Having been featured on the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards as part of the Dove Fresh Spin campaign and this year's Red Bull's Inspire the Night series narrated by Andrew WK, Jessica Who has tasted celebrity. Still, the S.K.A.M. artist — the same label that carries DJ Irie, Lil Jon, and Will.I.Am on its roster — is staying loyal to her city.
5. Danny Daze
From spending endless days tirelessly working on new music to becoming an international DJ sensation, Danny Daze is a Miami success story. Though he relocated to Berlin in 2013, Daze technically still lives in Miami, spending about 70% of his time in our city. And somewhere in between his European gigs and Miami shindigs, the DJ found time to create a new record label, Omnidisc, while pushing releases from artists like Cliff Lothar and Drvg Cvltvre. But that's not even the most impressive news. Later this month, homeboy will be dropping a new EP, Miami. Described as "his most well-rounded work on Omnidisc to date" by Mixmag, we can hardly wait to hear what Miami will bring to the table.
Peachfuzz at the Garret may be history, but luckily DZA's beloved party has found a new home at the Thompson Miami Beach. But aside from Peachfuzz — and his weekly Jelly Wednesdays rager at Basement Miami — your girl's favorite DJ has dipped his toes into the production game with his new label, Rearview Records. "I think what we're looking for, what we're looking to establish more than anything, is consistency in Miami," DZA told New Times last year about the label he started with his fellow music buddies. "We want to be welcoming and open to every single kind of genre of music. The only thing that we require is that they're as goal- and team-oriented as we are, [the goal being] to put Miami on the map." Coming from a guy who turned a weekly hip-hop party into a local nightlife staple, Rearview and the 305's music scene in general is in good hands.
3. Lazaro Casanova
As owner of his own record label, petFood, and manager of Oscar G's Murk Records, Lazaro Casanova is Miami's house hustler. When he's not throwing it down with his homie G and the Murk crew at Coyo Taco during Murk Mondays, hosting petFood parties at the Electric Pickle, or spearheading two record labels, homeboy is busy working in the studio, creating new music for petFood and Murk and hosting his own weekly radio show, Futro with Oscar G, Mondays from 4 to 6 p.m. on klangbox.fm. No matter what he's working on, though, Casanova keeps it fresh.
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2. Oscar G
He used to DJ bailes de quinceañera as a teen, but now he's scoring a dozen top-ten hits on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Songs chart. Oscar G is a true 305 legend. While his tropical house vibes are known across the board — even in Cuba, where he played for the first time ever last November — one thing you have to respect about Oscar Gaetan is that no matter where he goes, he always reps the 305. "Miami is home," the DJ told New Times back in March. "It's such a big part of who I am, my upbringing, my musical tastes. It's just a huge part of me and my life." As one-half of Murk Records, alongside childhood friend Ralph Falcon, Oscar G has placed the Magic City on the map.
Not many DJs can rave about being a three-time DMC World Champion and Time magazine’s 2001 "America’s Best DJ." While Miami's own DJ Craze certainly holds those bragging rights, he's too busy proving that DJs aren’t, as he likes to say, "professional iPod controllers." They are hard-working musicians and talented performers. And as a DJ who's given Red Bull Music Academy lectures, hit the road with Kanye West for his Glow in the Dark tour, and started his own successful label, Slow Roast Records, homeboy is proving just that. "It ain’t about just putting your hands up and dancing," Craze told us the last time we spoke. "It’s about substance and being a skillful mixer. I’ve had somebody call me a button pusher before, but I just laugh at them." And he's laughing all the way to the top of this list.