Luke says Miami radio isn't doing enough to lift up locals.EXPAND
Luke says Miami radio isn't doing enough to lift up locals.
Photo by Ian Witlen

Uncle Luke: Miami Radio Stations Refuse to Play Hometown Artists

Two weeks ago, I went on an Instagram rant criticizing local hip-hop radio stations for not showing any love to Miami-based artists. You won't hear any songs by up-and-coming underground MCs like Super Mario, Denzel Curry, Robb Bank$, and Yung Simmie by tuning into 99 Jamz or 103.5 the Beat. Instead, those stations place mainstream out-of-towners on a pedestal.

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They hype songs by Drake, Future, and the Weeknd like Christmas is coming, and Miami musicians are left wondering why their records don't get any airplay when they're making the hottest music on the streets. In the locker rooms of the Miami Jackson Senior High School football team and at Charles Hadley Park, the kids are playing rap music you never hear on the FM dial.

When I travel around the country for my performances, places like Atlanta, New York, and D.C. let their homegrown talent shine on the airwaves. Not only do you hear music by local artists, but radio DJs constantly plug their work.

In my heyday running Luke Records, I had to lobby hard to get radio stations to play artists on my label. Radio stations really began playing 2 Live Crew and other Luke Records artists only when the government was trying to censor our music. The more the feds tried to ban us, the more the listening public wanted to hear what we had to rap about. When I discovered Pitbull, there were programming directors who scoffed at the notion that a Cuban-American kid from Little Havana could rap. Pitbull was part of a young generation that included Trick Daddy and JT Money, who were hard-core street hustlers. Music saved their lives.

The snubbing of Miami artists has only gotten worse in the 20 years since Bill Clinton spearheaded the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which opened the door for major conglomerates to own more than one radio station in the same market. In Miami, most stations are owned by two or three major players that cut multimillion-dollar deals with the corporate record labels and entertainment companies to play only a select few Top 40 artists.

Following my rant, I sat down with the folks at 99 Jamz, who claimed it was difficult to play music by artists not signed to big record deals. I never heard from the people at 103.5. It's a shame interlopers get the red-carpet treatment, while the locals can't even get in the door.

However, radio stations are required by the FCC to produce local programming that reflects the community. If not, the stations could lose their licenses. It's time for Miami to speak up and demand equal time for our musicians.

Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.

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