DJ Heron grew up carrying milk crates full of records for his cousin Manny Love in NYC. In 1987, at age 15, his family moved from Brooklyn to North Miami Beach. Heron made friends with neighborhood kids Classik and Oski, formed a crew, and started rocking his own parties.
He has lived the culture of Miami hip-hop through many phases of its development, from mixtapes, block parties, and underground radio to its worldwide recognition today.
So here are Miami's top ten Miami hip-hop DJs of all time, according to DJ Heron.
10. Jam Pony Express
"They used to put out all these bass mixes," Heron recalls. "They'd take songs and pull out all the words and put in their own verses, change the words around. Everybody knew their mixtapes. It was dope. Really good shit. They were at all the block parties in Miami, the street parties. I saw them at the 79th Street Fleamarket all the time. The USA Flea. They had like Vol. 1 through 50 of bass mixes. Uncle Luke was with them back when he was called Skyywalker."
9. The Rhythm Rocker from The Saturday Night Funk Box
"He was a radio DJ. He had a show on this Miami station, community radio, WDNA-FM. All he did was late night. He would be on from like midnight to 3 in the morning. It was the only time that real old-school hip hop was played on the radio in Miami. This was like 1987. He had KRS-One on there and all different kinds of people stop by the station. He played Wu-Tang Clan. It was crazy."
8. DJ Immortal
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"He's not old school, but he's been in the game for a minute. He's the head instructor at Scratch DJ Academy that was started by Jam Master Jay. And he gets shows all over the place. He goes to Jamaica, Italy, but he supports Miami in everything he does. I used to see him in a lot of DJ battles and at the DMC contests, tearing people up. And then later I met back up with him doing a residency at Revolution Live. He's one of those great DJs that can kill any type of music."
7. Tom Laroc
"Good ol' Tom Laroc has a real history down here. He knows a lot of people in the hip-hop game. He's a video DJ too, but he goes way back. I know now he's starting to become a chef, but he still DJs everywhere, plays all around music and kills it. He's one of the first DJs that a lot of clubs gave a chance to play whatever he wanted to play. A lot of the clubs in '89 and '90 weren't playing boom bap. They were more mainstream. But Tom played what the streets liked, and that gave other DJs like myself a platform."
6. Magic Mike
"He's known for a lot of the old-school parties from back in the day at the skate halls. He was the main guy doing the scratches for a lot of the bass records for guys like Clay D. He is the icon of bass music down here as far as scratching. "Magic Mike cuts the record" -- that's one of his famous lines that he used to scratch into the songs. He really claimed Orlando, but he was here all the time working."
5. The Florida Room DJs
"This is a DJ crew I was part of back in the day with DJs Fudd, Coop Da Ville, Da Closet Man, and I was called King LBS. We were DJs who used to do production. We made a lot of beats for people from Piccalo to Pitbull. Not only that, but we opened for Tony Touch and DJ Khaled. The name came from DJ Fudd's first apartment. The turntables were set up in his little Florida room."
4. DJ Klassik
"He is one of Miami's best underground old-school DJs. He used to be called The Power Enforcer. I met him in my neighborhood when I first moved to Miami. This kid was a real DJ even before me. At 16 or 17 years old, he had all his own equipment and was spinning everywhere, like at the Cameo when it was called Club 1. Klassik was there playing all the new joints, all the new Tribe Called Quests. He did a lot of things in Miami."
3. DJ Craze
"I known Craze for years, seeing him DJ since he was a little kid, all the way to Club Living Room back in the day. I remember he battled DJ Fingerprints from Power96 and it was a big deal cause Craze was only, like, 16 at the time. He wasn't even allowed in the club. They had to sneak him in. He went in and he took out Fingerprints in the battle and that's when we knew that Craze was gonna be a big thing in Miami. This was years ago, and now he's worldwide, bro. He plays in Japan and Europe. DJ Craze plays everywhere. Pioneer."
2. Uncle Al
"Uncle Al was one of the first DJs down here to start doing the mixtape street thing. Always in the streets. I used to listen to Uncle Al all the time. He was just fun to listen to. All the girls liked him. His parties were always hot. He was breaking ground. He had cassette tapes that was just him mixing and putting out the newest music, but he would mix it with like Barry White and real old school. He was also the reason that a lot of people got to hear 2 Live Crew for the first time. He was the guy playing those records, the first one to play those songs."
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1. DJ Laz
"He's where every DJ wants to be. The epitome of where every DJ wants to be is where he's at. He has his own show, he's an icon in Miami DJ life, and he can still rock the house. He does his own thing, and when it comes down to it, he has fun doing it. It's all about rocking the crowd. I got to go on tour with him one time in Texas, and if you've never been on stage with him when "Morena" or any of his songs come on there, it is an epic moment in time. Seeing him do his thing is an experience I'll never forget. In Texas, they love him like a God. It's unexplainable. Texas is crazy. On the way to the hotel after the show, they had a full bar in the car. Not a limo, a regular car."