After moving to Coral Springs from Virginia three years ago, I was taught that a Yes Julz party had the best hip-hop, the Void was an event that included a bit of everything, and Broward County’s 2kLife’s parties were not to be missed.
Although these three groups contributed heavily to the entertainment scene, none focused on R&B. It wasn’t until I met Eyme XY, Venus Amor, and Aleicia Nicole, local singers based in South Florida, that I realized R&B had a presence in Miami — and someone had to make it known. I guess that’s me.
I saw Eyme XY perform at the Void in 2015. Her long, curly hair and hips swayed back and forth as melodic music blared from the speakers at LMNT. Some people flickered their lighters in the air as she sang, but in all, not too many people gave a fuck. There was a DJ in another room cranking the new Drake and an art gallery where fire Instagram photos were being taken. Me? I was on the side jamming to the essence of Aaliyah that Eyme XY was putting out. I rarely saw singers being supported on a platform as large as the Void. I needed more.
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RnBae Collective began as a passion project of mine. In the beginning, I snuck a few R&B songs onto the New Music Mondayz playlist curated by Colby Hammond on Yes Julz’s platform. I didn’t think anyone would notice because they were added to the end of the SoundCloud playlist. But I saw plays triple after just a day on the list. Obviously, I was onto something. Then, after meeting with a handful of friends, including Gabby Roberts and Simon Plummer, and inspired by singer Aleicia Nicole, I put on the first RnBae, presenting all R&B talent and music, in May 2016.
To my knowledge, there weren’t many R&B events in 2016. RnBae broke into a lane of its own with four artists performing in an old dance studio with about 68 people. On one hand, I felt I did something great for the community. On the other, I thought, What the hell did I get myself into? By December, RnBae Collective was a full force of R&B lovers ready to take over the 305 as “where bae comes to vibe."EXPANDThe R&B party Lovers & Friends at Coyo.Kathy Mercedes
This year, R&B in Miami is hot. High-grossing Miami Beach clubs such as Story and LIV have begun incorporating up-tempo R&B into their DJ mixes, and handfuls of R&B and alternative events have come to life. 99 Jamz made R&B a staple of its daily programing, and Hot 101.5 continued to distribute the R&B we know and love. On the millennial scene, Coyo’s Baby Girl, now the Lovers & Friends R&B party, became a staple for Sunday nights in February, along with Baby Baby Baby at the Edition Hotel, which didn’t last too long but tried. Then there was Club Fate's R&B party on first and third Sundays.
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But R&B isn’t anything new. It's been around since the 1960s and enjoyed popular eras in the '80s through the '00s. Patti LaBelle, Luther Vandross, and Sade ruled the '80s with hit songs that our mothers tell us we know nothing about. Miami’s Pretty Ricky contributed playful sex songs to our '00s playlists, while Destiny’s Child, 3WL, Jodeci, and Ginuwine still play at RnBae Collective events today.
Now local R&B artists, including Savannah Cristina, Ronnie V.O.P, Dyna Edyne, Native Youth, and Twelve’Len, are getting the recognition they deserve from radio stations, bookings for other events, and media coverage. And plenty of nation R&B talent has graced South Florida stages, such as Janet Jackson, Kehlani, PartyNextDoor, and Xscape.
Only time will tell how R&B transforms in Miami in 2018, but as the RnBae Collective celebrates its first anniversary, I can gladly say we’re here to stay.
One Year RnBaeVersary Party. 9 p.m. Thursday, December 21, at Gramps, 176 NW 24th St., Miami. Register for free admission at eventbrite.com.