Triumph of the Will

We all we got! "It's a beautiful thing to see Miami in one room like this," smiled Pitbull as he accepted an award for Hardest Working Artist at the inaugural Miami Music Awards on Wednesday, August 20. Actually he shouted when he spoke since everyone in the room, a who's who gathering of Miami's up-and-coming rappers, DJs, and label executives, was yelling, too. Crazy Hood Productions, which sat at a large rectangular table smack dab in the middle of Barcode's downstairs floor, chanted "Crazy Hood" every time a member of its crew was nominated. Soon the Poe Boy Records camp followed suit. By the end of the hour-long ceremony, the room had transformed into a massive rally for Miami hip-hop culture, with various calls to "stop New York from coming down here and taking our shit" and "take South Beach back" being made from the podium.

Twenty-one awards were handed out in all, but the night's clear winner was Poe Boy Records, appropriate since it has recently secured a distribution deal with Warner Bros. Records. (For a complete list, visit www.305hiphop.com.) The fast-rising label and its star artist Jacki-O won three awards for Best Label, Best Female Artist, and Best Single as a result of the latter's breakout hit, "Nookie." But in the days afterward, most attendees didn't remember the heated exhortations for mutual "respect" between crews and the chants of "We all we got!" It was the warm, communal feeling that resonated throughout the room; this was the first time Basshead had seen so many local rappers in one place, though he wishes that more underground crews like Counterflow Recordings and the Luna Empire had represented.

Though the idea of a local hip-hop awards show has floated around for years, it took Sound Bwoy Entertainment owners Abebe Lewis and Alexis Major to finally get the ball rolling. After securing sponsorship from Poe Boy Records and XELA Entertainment for the actual event, Lewis reached out to local Website 305hiphop.com to come up with a list of nominees. While the Website hosted a week of online balloting that generated 8000 votes, 99 Jamz (WEDR-FM) disc jockey Jill Tracey helped promote the event during her 2:00 weekday afternoon slot. Thanks to the efforts of all involved, the Miami Music Awards was assembled in a mere two weeks. Congratulations to them for a job well done.


Labor Day blues: If you've seen a full-page ad trumpeting the Ultra Sunset Beach Party in the Miami New Times over the past several weeks, you may be surprised to learn that the party might not be happening after all. That's because the City of Miami Beach turned down the Ultra Music Festival Corporation's request for a special event permit to host it on the beach near 21st Street and Ocean Drive, according to an August 4 memo sent to Ultra. Some of the concerns cited by the city included potential traffic congestion, a lack of available police officers, and numerous arrests made at past Ultra Music Festival events held during the Winter Music Conference. "With every Ultra event, we hire off-duty police," says business manager Joseph Risolia. "But the city, of course, likes to maintain its own presence. At this point, they said they just don't have enough officers available."

The rebuff sent Ultra's event promoters scrambling for a new venue, leading them to consider a variety of Miami locations while continuing to negotiate with the City of Miami Beach. While Risolia declined to name any particular spaces they looked at, José Gell, administrative officer for the Bayfront Park Management Trust, confirms that Ultra did approach them during the week of August 16 about having the event there. "The group did come into [the office to talk] about using Bicentennial Park," he says. "But they decided against it."

Perhaps Ultra nixed the Bicentennial Park deal because, a mere ten days after denying them a permit for the beach party, the City of Miami Beach proposed the Miami Beach Convention Center as a replacement on August 14. Why did the city make an about-face, given all its hand-wringing over the prospect of delinquent ravers and overextended cops? "The event would be easier to manage in an enclosed facility," wrote Miami Beach media representative Nannette Rodriguez in an e-mail response.

As of this writing both sides are negotiating a last-minute contract for use of the Miami Beach Convention Center. With the August 31 event date just around the corner, it looks like Ultra will get its chance to throw a beach party in, uh, an auditorium. "It's in the hands of the city," says Risolia.

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Mosi Reeves
Contact: Mosi Reeves