Funky Expedition = Exploring the creation and development of region-specific genres of music. Take a sonic trip with Randi!
This week’s trip takes us to Miami, Florida. The music out of the area is called Miami Bass, also known as Booty Bass, Booty Music, or “car audio bass”. You can identify Bass in your Face by the signature use of Roland TR-808 sustained kick-drum (in other words, an 808 beat), fast tempos, and more often than not, extremely explicit lyrics. The beats of Miami Bass are often very abrupt and choppy, and they are engineered this way in order to get booties jigglin’. The style of music was born in the late 80’s and early 90’s. The music of Florida has a sound similar to Baltimore Club, and some say it is also much like another genre called Ghettotech, although Ghettotech consists of songs utilizing a Roland TR-909 machine rather than an 808 (Wikipedia).
There is some confusion as to who the “Father of Miami Bass” is, but various sources mention Maggotron (James McCauley), while others site Amos Larkins as the creator (Digital Dreamdoor). The first bass record to gain success outside of Florida was produced by Amos Larkins, and it was MC ADE’s “Bass Rock Express”. But one of the first Bass records ever MADE was Double Duce’s “Commin’ in Fresh”, which was also produced by Amos (Stylus). The production with an 808 kick drum was first really seen in that area on the track “Commin’ in Fresh” – and according to sources, the song was a total accident. Amos Larkins had a rough copy of a song, and he had always intended on cleaning it up, but he never got around to mastering it. He played the song for test audiences, and the response was so positive, Amos kept the track the way it was for the test copy. Soon afterwards, the Electro that was so popular around that time started going out, and Miami Bass started taking its place.
The legendary crew who helped usher in the Bass era was none other than 2 Live Crew. They, of course, featured explicit lyrics, and their album covers usually had some type of “booty-lovin’” on them. Their 1986 song “Throw the Dick”, produced by David “Treach DJ Mr. Mixx” Hobbs, set the precedent for Miami Bass. Apparently Luke of 2 Live Crew (AKA Luke Skywalker) was producing tracks with Amos and did not feel he was fairly compensated for a song he helped produce called “Ghetto Jump”. Luke started his own company/label in response to Amos’ mishandling of the label (Stylus).
2 Live Crew is probably the best known group incorporating bass into their sound, as the focus of the bass movement was less on individual artists and was more about the DJs who produced and/or spun Miami records. Among the top DJs were Luke Skyywalker’s Ghetto Style DJs, Norberto Morales’ Triple M DJs, Space Funk DJs, Mohamed Moretta, DJ Nice & Nasty, Felix Sama, Ramon Hernandez, Bass Master DJ’s, Lazaro Mendez (DJ Laz), Earl “The Pearl” Little, Uncle Al, DJ Slice, K-Bass, and Jam Pony Express. The major radio station in Florida playing Bass included Rhythm 98, WEDR, and WPOW (Power 96).
Then around 1993-1994, there was a resurgence of Miami Bass. One factor that helped was that the new sounds were not as vulgar, so the music could reach more of a commercial success. I listened to Miami Bass-style beats around the time I was in middle school, and corny or not, I loved the groups that were coming out during that time: INOJ, Tag Team, Quad City DJs, and Sir-Mix-A lot. I faintly recall there being some type of controversy about a lawsuit between Tag Team’s “Whoomp! There it Is” and another group’s song “Whoot, There it Is.” There haven’t been too many recently released, original songs in the field of Miami Bass – but lots of mash-up DJs and party DJs still incorporate bass in their sets. Plus, groups like Spank Rock and Benny Blanco are bringing the nasty back, rapping in a crude style and even featuring booties on their album cover! It’s coming back, ya’ll.
Miami Bass Playlist! Follow the link to download the playlist.
Check out one of my all-time favorite songs with a Booty Beat!