Much of Miami is a patchwork of vibrant Caribbean communities. Over the years, the number of immigrants from the islands has continued to grow. You might not hear a Jamaican sound system in your neighborhood, but know there is one blasting beats onto the streets someplace not far from your front door. And this Memorial Day weekend, downtown Miami will burst with Caribbean vibes and sounds at the 13th-annual Best of the Best Concert.
Founded by Buju Banton's manager Joseph "Joey Budafuco" Louis and New York City’s Hot 97 DJ Jabba, the festival will take place at its original home of Bayfront Park this year after being moved inside last year due to bad weather. The organizers are expecting an enthusiastic crowd to descend upon the city for this massive event.
Budafuco says there isn't much of a reggae scene in South Florida, so Best of the Best is the main attraction for reggae-heads. "You’ll come across a reggae event possibly once a month or once every quarter of the year," he surmises. The Brooklyn-born promoter moved to Miami for college and found success in events when he launched a South Beach reggae party in 1996 with partner RIP Daddy Saw. Known as Rockers Island, the event went down at South Beach's iconic hot spot Amnesia, now known as Story Nightclub. Before launching Best of the Best with Jabba, Budafuco also hosted another party, Madhouse, on Virginia Key.
"What we have done as a festival in the past 12 years is to position South Florida as a destination for reggae fans all over the world to participate in a stellar Caribbean festival," he explains. "The locals' support gets energized when the participation of our huge international audience arrives to South Florida."
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The direction Budafuco and Jabba take when planning the concert is dictated by an island nearby. "Choices we make for Best of the Best Concert primarily come from what’s going on in the music industry in Jamaica." And this year, they're adding something for nostalgic Gen-Xers. "We started a new segment incorporating the '90s era with legends such as Shabba Ranks and the 'Don Dada' Super Cat, plus many more great '90s artists," Budafuco says. "For 2020, we plan to integrate more Afro beats, dancehall, and soca into our lineup. We want to make the experience more than just reggae."
Get ready for an extended lineup that includes not only Shabba and Super Cat but also Alkaline, Jahmiel, Stylo G, Bushman, Vanessa Bling, and many others, because, as Jabba says on the fest's website: "We got to keep reggae music alive."
Best of the Best Concert. 2 p.m. Sunday, May 26, at Bayfront Park, 301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Tickets cost $50 to $399 via bestofthebestconcert.com. Children under 12 get in free with an adult.