miami Bass; what is it, and what is it not? It’s not Ghetto-Tech, Ghetto-House, Baltimore Breaks, nor any other post-rave dance music trend associated with “booty music.” In fact, calling it booty music only addresses a small fraction of the genre, and saying it’s a direct product of “Planet Rock” is missing a large chunk of the chronology. Much like the rest of hip-hop, the decline in popularity of up-tempo robotic electro saw mid-tempo drum machine based rap music come to the forefront in the mid-80’s.

From virtually the beginning of Miami’s urban music scene, it was dominated by Henry Stone and his TK Records offshoots. When, in 1981, the label folded, Henry partnered with the infamous Morris Levy of Roulette Records to form Sunnyview Records in an attempt to keep control, but the damage had been done—many of the former TK employees had already moved onto new ventures. All of this happened as rap records came onto the scene, and drum machines became the vehicle for rapping.

Miami jumped on board, producing a string of electro records, the most popular of which were produced by Pretty Tony, but as the market for hip-hop records began to slow down and remove the robotic elements, Miami followed suit. When the movie industry came to town to produce a b-boy b-movie entitled Knights of the City to cash in on the Breakin’/Beat Street trend, the talent was pooled, and a new period of Miami urban music dawned. As the movie wrapped, Miami Bass was formed.

The 808

Double Duce – Commin’ in Fresh [1985]

Amos Larkins was one of Henry’s hired sidemen early on, but Knights of the City had him produce a track for the break dance unit known as the FBI Crew. Henry saw the potential in Amos and hired Amos to produce his own tracks after the movie wrapped. Amos enlisted rapper Mighty Rock, who formed the group known as Heavy Dose (who later changed their name to Double Dose, and finally Double Duce). Much like all of their prior tracks, “Commin’ in Fresh” was released on a tiny label ran by Henry Stone outside of the high-profile Sunnyview Records. This was most likely the first rap record from Miami to sustain the 808 kick drum, which was a pure accident. Amos intended to fix his error after his test copy was presented to a select few, but the response was overwhelming, and Amos was convinced to leave it as is. This became the prototype for Miami street music after the decline of up-tempo robotic Electro.

MC A.D.E. – Bass Rock Express [1985]

Adrian Hines was the son of Billy Hines, owner of Royal Sounds record store in the Lauderhill Mall of Ft. Lauderdale. Adrian was often an in-store DJ, testing out new records for the customers. As mobile DJ crews such as Ghetto Style DJ’s and Jam Pony Express began buying up records with sustained bass, Adrian also found audiences in-store responding. After Billy had success releasing eight records produced by Frank Cornelius out of the back of the store on his 4-Sight imprint, Billy granted Adrian studio time to spearhead his own song under the moniker “Adrian Does Everything” (A.D.E.). However, they took a detour from having Frank produce, hiring Amos Larkins on loan from Henry, and the combination of Adrian’s concepts and Amos’s techniques produced a massive hit that reportedly had local manufactures tied up for months. The technique, combined with the vocal concept, marks the official beginning of Miami Bass.

2 Live Crew

2 Live Crew – Throw the D [1986]

Record promoter and owner of the Miami teen club known as Pac-Jam, a man calling himself Luke Skywalker was reportedly loosely involved with a Henry Stone funded, Amos Larkins produced record titled “Ghetto Jump.” According to Henry’s son Joe, Luke was furious at his lack of credit on the record, and decided to form his own label to steal the spotlight from Henry and Amos. Based on the success of a California based record he was promoting named “2 Live” by the 2 Live Crew (commonly referred to as “Beat Box”), he commissioned the group’s third single to be released on his newly formed Miami label. The response in South Florida was overpowering as it was more up-tempo and slightly smutty at the instruction of Luke. The single’s b-side, however, was aimed at mimicking an Amos Larkin mid-tempo bass song, while specifically calling out the mobile DJ sound-system “Ghetto Style DJ’s,” instigating the grassroots marketing techniques that became the standard of Miami’s music scene in the 80’s.

Dynamix II – Just Give the DJ a Break [1987]

Dynamix II’s first official release remains the group’s signature song, although the sound was largely driven by producer Eric Griffin. Griffin, the DJ for Bass Station, a rival club to Luke Skywalker’s Pac Jam, became one of the in-house producers of the record label of the same name. And while his tracks were no match for Skywalker’s vision of smutty club jams, Griffin introduced a melodic, multi-tonal bass line programmed on the then rarely used SP12 sampler. As quickly as Luke Skywalker had grabbed the spotlight in Miami, Griffin snatched it away and came to define Bass music’s innovative production method with his new piece of equipment and way of programming it.


Afro-Rican – Give it All You Got (Doggy Style) [1987]

If “Throw the D” introduced faster tempos and smut to Miami Bass, and “Just Give the DJ a Break” established multi-tonal bass, then “Give It All You Got” was the first to synthesize the two. This was the moment when the genre coalesced, and this track remains what many consider the pinnacle of Bass nostalgia. Although briefly credited to Rod Whitehead and DJ Magic Mike in error, the track was actually produced by Afro-Rican, yet was only done as a way to gain a foothold in the industry so they could produce non-Bass music. Eventually, they returned to Bass, but never found a hit this memorable again.

MC Cool Rock & MC Chaszey Chess – Boot the Booty [1987]

Bobby Ford Sr. had the ability to fund his son MC Cool Rock’s music aspirations, and suck in others to help. Eventually, he convinced former Amos Larkins co-conspirator Beatmaster Clay D to produce the music, who in turn recruited DJ Magic Mike as a DJ and co-producer. Soon, the group took Clay’s advice to make a song focused on the female posterior. Initially it only inspired some imitators—the genre wouldn’t be known as booty music for a few years to come.

DJ Magic Mike

DJ Magic Mike – Magic Mike Cuts the Record [1988]

After Mike realized he was not receiving proper credit for his input in Miami, he returned to Orlando and landed his own record deal with an unknown label, Cheetah Records. Mike, in turn, revitalized one of the most unsung aspects of Miami Bass—the DJ track. Most notably, Mr. Mixx had a DJ instrumental at the end of every 2 Live Crew album, but Magic Mike elevated it to an art form just as the album format of Bass music began to be discovered by the suburban car audio market, defining two aspects of the genre with one effort.

Techmaster PEB – Bass Computer [1991]

Devoured by the car audio market, Magic Mike took the lion’s share of the money given to Miami Bass artists on the strength of his first two albums. Techmaster identified what this sub-market specifically wanted, and created an album of un-syncopated, uncluttered, atmospheric bass tones, which, in turn, founded the “Car Audio Bass” subgenre. This subgenre proved to be Miami Bass’s cash cow for a long stretch of time, with many groups forming side projects to cash in on the phenomenon.

DJ Laz

DJ Laz – Mami el Negro [1991]

Lazaro Mendez was a well-known radio personality ready to break into the music production field with a brilliant idea: fuse Latin and Bass music together. Much of his debut single and album was built on the talents rapper/producer Danny D, giving the quality his gimmick needed (at the time Danny D was one of the most celebrated in the scene). Although this was hardly the first track to marry these elements, it was the first successful one to do so. DJ Laz would go on to become one of the biggest draws in Bass music, and a minor wave of Latin bass followed in his wake.

Poison Clan

Poison Clan – Shake What Ya Mama Gave Ya [1992]

When 2 Live Crew broke up near the end of 1991, Luke Skywalker found himself without a flagship group or a chief producer. Luckily, his instincts were intact. Skywalker brought in an excellent producer by the name of Devastator and the two men recorded Skywalker’s own hyped-up track entitled “I Wanna Rock” (commonly referred to as “Doo Doo Brown”). The track was so successful that it even exceeded 2 Live Crew’s final efforts with the label, prompting a reemployment of Devastator to produce another track for a slimmed down version of the somewhat successful group Poison Clan.

What no one could have forecast was that lead rapper JT Money’s unique vocal cadence would become the blueprint for how nearly everyone in Miami would rap for years to come, while Devastator’s production insisted on picking the tempo more and more over the years. These would be the traits that would garner the genre’s reputation of being “booty music” for the remainder of the 90’s when the genre began to spin its wheels rather than continue to innovate.

By: PapaWheelie
Published on: 2005-08-01
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