The Ten Most Miami Songs of 2017 (So Far)

XXXTentacion performs at Rolling Loud 2017.
XXXTentacion performs at Rolling Loud 2017. Photo by Alex Markow
Shout-outs to South Beach women and South Florida zip codes are a dime a dozen in popular music. But each year, some songs truly seem to represent Miami and its diversity, its flashy vibe, its sunny/shady dichotomy, or its lesser-known rock 'n' roll chops. And this year is no exception. This is the most Miami music of the first half of 2017.

Ski Mask the Slump God featuring XXXtentacion, “Take a Step Back”
Whatever happened to the punks? Where are those intrepid young scumbags who thumb their noses at polite society and make loud, dissonant music that's angry and nihilistic? Answer: They’re in Broward, and they’re rappers. Of all the brash tunes coming from Lauderhill’s Members Only crew, “Take a Step Back" best epitomizes the area’s nascent, SoundCloud-conquering sound. It teams up producer Ronny J of Denzel Curry’s similarly grand “Ultimate,” Ski Mask the Slump God, and XXXTentacion. Together, they codify all of their scene’s signature moves. The distorted, purposefully boosted bass, the gonzo ad-libs, X’s deranged sexual boasts (“They call me Young Dagger Dick, that’s my handle”) paired with Ski Mask’s wicked-fast flow — it’s all here. This is the new sound of South Florida rap, and it’s fucked up. — Douglas Markowitz

DJ Khaled featuring Rihanna and Bryson Tiller, “Wild Thoughts”
DJ Khaled is hip-hop’s version of Jay Gatsby: Though he’s by no means mysterious, he certainly does throw the best parties. For the music video to his latest single, “Wild Thoughts,” Khaled brings the party to Little Haiti. Hailing from a city dripping in decadence and excess, Khaled knows everyone, and everyone knows him. In fact, his upcoming album, Grateful, features a parade of A-listers from the music industry: Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Drake, Justin Bieber, Calvin Harris, Nicki Minaj, and Alicia Keys. For “Wild Thoughts,” he has appropriately recruited one of the sexiest beings on the planet: Rihanna. For those able to pry their eyes way from Riri, the video is a sultry, steamy midnight romp through a tropical urban paradise that pays homage to Miami’s Haitian community. The searing guitar riff, sampled from Carlos Santana’s classic “Maria Maria,” elevates the innate desire. And although Khaled finally got to work with Rihanna, he’s still chasing his own Daisy: the songs that will define him. Maybe that’s why he keeps shouting, “Another one!” — Angel Melendez
Proper Villains, “Spazzmatik Bass”
Miami was especially popping in the '80s (and we're not talking about gunshots), so it’s logical that the city’s signature club music genre, Miami bass, would emerge during the coke years. But don’t assume the sound is a relic of the Reagan years. In her annual Magic City mix series for Opening Ceremony, Miami native Jubilee brings together the choicest cuts of international bass music and puts them back in a Floridian context. This year’s mix is her third, and though it gathers tunes and talent from as far away as London (Ikonika) and New York (Proper Villains), rest assured: When you hear that bass, you’ll only think of the 305. — Douglas Markowitz

J. Balvin and Pitbull featuring Camila Cabello, “Hey Ma”
This could be the most Miami song of 2017 even though, or perhaps because, it’s almost entirely centered on Cuba. As the most prominent single off The Fate of the Furious soundtrack, “Hey Ma” features the talents of Cuban-American rapper and sunglasses mannequin Pitbull and former Fifth Harmony vocalist Camila Cabello. The 20-year-old rising star was raised in Miami but was born in Havana, where the opening race scene for the film was shot. The music video is spliced with clips of that harrowing race through the rustic streets of the beautifully preserved city while J. Balvin and Pitbull vie for Cabelllo’s attention. (Balvin totally wins that contest, by the way; watch for the chemistry between him and Cabello and how Pitbull is left dancing in the corner by himself near the end.) There are two versions of the song, one in English and one in Spanish, but in true Miami form, they each include sprinklings of Spanglish. — Angel Melendez

Lil Pump, “D Rose”
Of all the South Florida SoundCloud rappers shoveling coal into the hip-hop hype train, Lil Pump is certainly the most. He has pink dreads and wears BAPE like a uniform. He drives a bright-yellow Porsche, and when he crashed it, he joked about it on Twitter. His catch phrase — of course he has a catch phrase — is “essketit," which is how you say “let’s get it” if you’re fucked-up on lean 24/7. He has way too much money for a 16-year-old, and he wants you to know about it. He looks and acts like James Franco’s character from Spring Breakers. Basically, he is the most Miami person imaginable, and he can put out a less-than-great track like “D Rose” and still ball out because he makes up for it with personality. You’re not watching the vid for the music; you’re watching for Lil Pump. — Douglas Markowitz
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Douglas Markowitz is a former music and arts editorial intern for Miami New Times. Born and raised in South Florida, he studied at Sophia University in Tokyo before earning a bachelor's in communications from University of North Florida. He writes freelance about music, art, film, and other subjects.
Angel Melendez is an unabashed geek and a massive music nerd. A graduate of Florida Atlantic University and an accomplished failure at two other universities, Angel is a lush and an insufferable know-it-all, and has way better taste in music than you.
Contact: Angel Melendez
David Rolland is a freelance music writer for Miami New Times. His novels, The End of the Century and Yo-Yo, are available at many fine booksellers.
Contact: David Rolland