The use of the Roland TR-808 sustained kick drum, raised dance tempos, and frequently sexually explicit lyrical content differentiate it from other hip hop subgenres. Music author Richie Unterberger has characterized Miami bass as using rhythms with a "stop start flavor" and "hissy" cymbals with lyrics that "reflected the language of the streets, particularly Miami's historically black neighborhoods such as Liberty City and Overtown".
Despite early national media attention in the 1980s Miami bass has never found consistent mainstream acceptance, though its importance has had a profound impact on the development of hip hop, dance music, and pop.
|Origin of Miami Bass|
|Bass Rock Express by MC A.D.E. credited as the first hit of the genre, YouTube video|
|Throw the D by 2 Live Crew credited with international exposure and shaping the genre, YouTube video|
During the 1980s, the focus of Miami bass tended to be on DJs and record producers, rather than individual performers. Record labels such as Pandisc, HOT Records, 4-Sight Records and Skyywalker Records released much material of the genre. Unterberger has referred to James (Maggotron) McCauley (also known as DXJ, Maggozulu 2, Planet Detroit and Bass Master Khan) as the "father of Miami bass", a distinction McCauley himself denies, choosing rather to confer that status on producer Amos Larkins. DJ Kurtis Mantronik (Mantronix) was a key influence on Miami bass. In particular, Mantronik's single "Bass Machine" (1986), featuring rap vocals by T La Rock, was pivotal to the development of Miami bass.
"Bass Rock Express" by MC ADE (with music and beats produced by Amos Larkins) is often credited as being the first Miami bass record to gain underground popularity on an international scale. The single "Throw The D" by 2 Live Crew (produced by David "Mr. Mixx" Hobbs) in January 1986 gave a permanent blueprint to how future Miami bass songs were written and produced. At the time Fresh Kid Ice was the only MC in the group and featured on the track. The fact that he was alone made him the first Miami Bass Rapper. It is rumored that he coined the term Miami Bass as well.
Luther "Luke Skyywalker" Campbell along with David "Mr. Mixx" Hobbs of 2 Live Crew played a key role in popularizing Miami bass in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The group's 1986 release, The 2 Live Crew Is What We Are, became controversial for its sexually explicit lyrics. 1989's As Nasty As They Wanna Be, along with its hit single "Me So Horny", proved more controversial still, leading to legal troubles for both 2 Live Crew and retailers selling the album (all charges were eventually overturned on appeal).
For the better part of the mid-'80s and early '90s, DJs such as Luke Skyywalker's Ghetto Style DJs, Norberto Morales' Triple M DJs, Super JD's MHF Dj's, Space Funk DJs, Mohamed Moretta, DJ Nice & Nasty, Felix Sama, DJ Spin, Ramon Hernandez, Bass Master DJs, DJ Laz, Earl "The Pearl" Little, Uncle Al, Raylo & Dem Damn Dogs, DJ Slice, K-Bass, Jam Pony Express and others were heavily involved in playing Miami bass at local outdoor events to large audiences at area beaches, parks, and fairs.
Clubs in South Florida, including Pac-Jam, Superstars Rollertheque, Bass Station, Studio 183, Randolphs, Nepenthe, Video Powerhouse, Skylight Express, Beat Club and Club Boca, were hosting bass nights on a regular basis. Miami radio airplay and programming support was strong in the now defunct Rhythm 98, as well as WEDR and WPOW (Power 96).
Contribution and promotion of Miami bass also came out of Orlando. 102 Jamz (WJHM), a prominent Orlando radio station in the late '80s, featured Miami bass and helped its popularity rise in and around Central Florida.
By the mid-1990s, the influence of Miami bass had spread outside South and Central Florida to all areas of Florida and the Southern United States. In the mid-1990s, it saw a commercial and mainstream resurgence, with Miami bass influenced artists such as L'Trimm, 95 South, Tag Team, 69 Boyz, Quad City DJ's and Freak Nasty all scoring big Miami bass hits. Examples of these songs are "Whoomp! (There It Is)" by Tag Team in 1993, "Tootsee Roll" by 69 Boyz in 1994, "C'mon N' Ride It (The Train)" by the Quad City DJ's in 1996 and "Whoot, There It Is" by 95 South in 1993.
These songs all reached the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and exposed Miami bass nationally. These artists generally used a Miami bass sound and production but did it in a far less explicit and far more accessible way than had been previously done by Campbell and the 2 Live Crew.
Miami bass is closely related to the electronic dance music genres of ghettotech and booty house, genres which combine Detroit techno and Chicago house with the Miami bass sound. Ghettotech follows the same sexually oriented lyrics, hip-hop bass lines and streetwise attitude, but with harder, uptempo Roland TR-909 techno-style kick beats. In 2007, contemporary hip-hop and R&B songs became more dance oriented, showing influences of Miami bass and techno, and are typically sped up to a "chipmunk" sound for faster tempos for dances such as juking, wu-tanging and bopping (usually only done in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties in south Florida).
Miami bass has been influenced by the cultural history of its wide-ranging community with the evolution of Cuban, Dominican, and Afro-Brazilian-fused sub-genres that include Baltimore club and funk carioca.
Another subgenre of Miami bass is "car audio bass", which features an even more stripped down bass-heavy sound, tending to focus on either extremely hard 909 kicks combined with sine waves or the classic 808 kick, or sometimes simply the sine wave by itself. Some artist examples would be DJ Laz, DJ Magic Mike , Afro-Rican (as Power Supply), Techmaster P.E.B., DJ Billy E, Bass 305 and Bass Patrol.
Miami Bass, Booty Bass, Booty Music, or whatever you want to call it, changed the scenes of hip hop, dance music, and pop forever...The story of music's dirtiest genre reaches back to the '80s with roots set firmly in Afrika Bambaataa's elektro-funk...foundational artists Amos Larkins and Maggotron, both of whom have been credited as kicking the regional sound into motion. According to Stylus Magazine, Larkins and the Miami Bass conception can be traced back to the movie Knights of the City...Inspired by the humid and vice-ridden melting pot of cultures, ...MC A.D.E.'s "Bass Rock Express" gets the title for first hit of the genre, but it was 2 Live Crew who became the poster boys of movement. Record store owners who sold the album were arrested and charged with crimes of obscenity, and 2 Live Crew members were arrested just for playing shows...US Appeals Court system ruled rap was protected by First Amendment rights...2 Live Crew made it safe for hip-hop as we know it to exist. The influence of the genre is far-reaching...Miami Bass remains not only one of the most ridiculous and enjoyable genres of music in recent memory but also one of the most important.