Miami bass (also called booty bass) emerged around the 1980s as the new bumpin’ kid on the block party. Its sonic predecessors (reggae, old school hip hop, and electro funk) had paved the way for a welcoming party scene that would give Miami bass a home. Notable founders of the genre The 2 Live Crew brought heart-pounding beats, sexual overtones, and hype man vocals in their tracks that are still dominant in clubs across the world today. They perhaps sum up the historic emergence of Miami bass best in their 1986 hit “Throw the ‘D’”; “There’s a brand new dance and it’s coming your way / it was started in Miami by the ghetto DJs”.
Miami producers blasted the bass on electro funk inspired Roland TR-808 beats, mixed with the record scratching and hissing cymbals also found in old school hip hop. Heavy bass borrowed from reggae made the tracks that much more groovy, though the tempo of Miami bass was usually much faster than reggae (closer to a dancey 100 – 140 BPM).
The sound of Miami bass might be best summarized as party ready. Regular staples are aggressively loud pulsating bass, with basic drums, hissy cymbals, and hyped vocals. Later Miami bass leaned into the call and response vocal format. Track lyrics tend to head towards the promiscuous, with a level of sexual explicitness not intended for the timid.
MC A.D.E. – “Bass Rock Express”
Miami, Florida, 1985
“Bass Rock Express” by MC A.D.E. is considered by many to be the first commercially released track of the Miami bass genre.
2 Live Crew – “Throw the D”
Miami, Florida, 1986
The 2 Live Crew’s “Throw the ‘D’” laid out the blueprint for the genre’s sound, with its trademark blasting bass, super simple Rolland TR-808 drum machine, and in-your-face vocals.
The 2 Live Crew – “Me So Horny”
Miami, Florida, 1989
After stirring up local authorities with the sexually explicit lyrics of their first album, 2 Live Crew took it to the next level on their second offering with tracks like, “Me So Horny”. Its signature sample was taken from the film Full Metal Jacket.
95 South – “Whoot, There It Is”
Jacksonville, Florida, 1993
95 South released “Whoot, There It Is” a few months before Tag Team released “Whoomp There It Is”, and the official story is that it was a total coincidence owing to the line being popular in clubs at the time. The first version didn’t do nearly as well as the Tag Team track, despite it arguably being the better version.
Tag Team – “Whoomp There It Is”
Atlanta, Georgia, 1993
Tag Team scored a massive hit with “Whoomp There It Is”, a track that has been both loved and reviled. No matter which side of the fence you fall on, it is undeniable that Tag Team’s vocal delivery had a huge impact on the shouting, carnival-barker style of rapping that came afterwards.
Quad City DJ’s – “C’mon N’ Ride It (The Train)”
Jacksonville, Florida, 1996
From 1994 to 2001 pioneering hip hop label Tommy Boy Records released a yearly album called “Jock Rock”, featuring high-tempo jams marketed towards athletes. Quad City DJ’s “C’mon N’ Ride It” was part of this series, also making it to third place on the US Billboard Hot 100.