Over the last 7 years, Florida’s music scene has made it’s way out of oblivion, capturing the heart of America with it’s immense talent pool, fueled by the vigorous minds of characters behind the scenes. These abrasive artists/visionaries, and their unique outlook on the entertainment industry – combined with an unmitigated purpose to achieve greatness, has attributed to the eruption of art shipping out the sunshine state. That’s the thing though, most of the time we only see the art, and never the significant puzzle pieces behind the curtain that has allowed the art to receive it’s proper recognition. The booking agencies, talent managers, DJ’s, event coordinators, and all other various form of a platform, plays an extremely important role into the exposure of the talent. Today, I’ll be going over 5 of theses significant platforms: XLACED/Creative District, Raider Klan, DKAF Agency (ran by Don Krez), Dope ENT, & YesJulz.
Let’s start at the inception of…most of it all – Raider Klan. The group hit the underground in 2010 with it’s mysterious, mystical, & riotous energy, attracting the eyes and ears of teenagers across Florida looking to rebel. Headed by producer SpaceGhostPurpp, the klan was able to create a dark sound never heard before during this generation(heavily duplicated afterwards), and with artists such as Xavier Wulf, Amber London, Denzel Curry, Chris Travis, Yung Simmie and Key Nyata, they were able to extend this vibe from the southern depths of Texas, to the upper echelons of Washington state. They were the original defiant ones of the underground. Although plenty members of the klan has since went on to establishing great solo careers, their unison at the time inspired almost every artist currently making an imprint on the culture out of Florida. Their affiliation with artist like Robb Bank$ & Pouya allowed the groups dynamic to extend into even greater depths of the culture; and the man to help push some of these artist (and still is today) goes by the name of Don Krez.
Krez, with a foot in the entertainment industry at a very young age, took his talents to DJ’ing once he was able to leave the screens as a commercial baby. His music aspirations all began with a studio in his moms house, inviting artists over to help get their feet in the rap game by providing a sanctuary for them to express themselves. This studio would later be the platform that brought Yung Simmie into his world, which allowed him to align himself with the rising star early on in his career, later booking his first tour. Using these experiences, he would later help catapult the careers of Pouya, Smokepurpp, Fat Nick, Lil Pump, and WifisFuneral, bringing light to them from Arizona to Florida. DKAF Agency is Don Krez’s new booking agency; still creating culture till this day, putting Chris Travis on his current tour – ‘Water SZN’.
Another person who was able to turn themselves into a brand and help bring the light of Florida to the masses, is “Ms.NeverNotWorking” herself – Juileanna Goddard, better known as YesJulz. You can’t exactly lock her into a box as to what she provides to the culture. From marketing to coordinating events (entertainment and charitable) – name it, she’s done it. A well diverse portfolio, combined with an infectious energy, and winning spirit, allowed Julz to ascend to super stardom, where she was able to connect her youthful fan base, to major brands and festivals via social media; later becoming the “Queen of Snapchat”. What sets her apart from the other culture creators on the list, is the fact that her leverage comes directly from her personality, which she is able to tap into and use as a tool to bring awareness to everything going on in her universe; epitomizing her goal to bridge the gap between cool and conscious. One of her biggest contributions provided to the scene of Florida, is how she was able to balance the power structure between women and men. She has helped pioneer an environment where woman can lead, create, and prosper without feeling any constraint. What has allowed her to ascend to the top, fall, and rise back up like a phoenix, is that her creations has all been from the heart. Yeah, she can be little tactless(politically correct for ‘messy’), but that’s the territory that comes with living from the heart, in the moment, for the moment, creating moments.
Next up, is XLACED/Creative District. This is where art exhibits and rap showcases collide. Where you can see Distortedd go to work on a new art piece, while Ice Billion Berg graces the stage. Innovation at it’s finest. The multifaceted platform was created by a group of teenagers in South Florida seeking to express themselves in a unique manner, accomplishing just that in about a 3-5 year span. If you happen to be in the city at the right time, and was looking to discover talent with superb upside potential, this would be your first and only stop. Plenty of artists, who have now accumulated a great following, at some point showcased their work here. XLACED/Creative District’s mark on the Florida industry is greatly underestimated, for it took these events and the energy circulating from creator to creator, in order for the aesthetic of Florida to be properly transmitted into the minds of all attendees.
Last, but not least, we got the one and only Dope ENT, headed by Tariq Cherif & Matt Zingler. Dope ENT’s transcendence to the top of the music industry in Florida was well expected, but different in the fact that they tapped into the culture from the inside of the industry, then made their way out to the youth, completing the vibe. After a failed after-party event thrown for Rick Ross in 2010, Tariq and Matt was forced to go back to the drawing board to reassess what exactly Dope was, and what it could become. After a year of reflection & redirection, they were able to recoup their losses, and book Curren$y for 3 shows, early 2011. This would lead to them linking up with TDE, to help tour Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, and Schoolboy Q, all before the arrival of national attention. A$AP Ferg, Flatbush Zombies & Riff Raff are among other artists who Dope ENT put on tour to gain them respect within the industry; this is also where they were able to gain the respect and attention of the youth. Once they were able to prove to the industry and fans that they were in-touch with culture by consistently booking artists, and presenting events such as DopeBasel, Dope ENT would then shift gears and re-invent themselves, this time to a festival producer – birthing Rolling Loud & Takeoff Landing. This is where the Florida music culture was able to reach new heights, with Rolling Loud becoming a platform where you enjoy both super stars and local artists, all at one event. With Rolling Loud’s extensive line-up, they were able to garner national attention, thus creating more light on the sunshine state. Now Dope is getting their hands in on artist management with the signing of Palm Beach rapper, WifisFuneral.
From oblivion to the moon, that is the only way to describe the advancement of arts in the Florida culture. Normally we only see the stars, and never the force of nature that has caused the star to become what it became; the sad part is, these forces at times could be more powerful than the stars itself, yet they never receive proper recognition. The stars duty is to make sure the light gets transferred to the masses, but without platforms such as Raider Klan, DKAF Agency, YesJulz!, XLACED, & Dope ENT, this process would take a lot more energy/time. Through visionary concepts and sheer willpower, these 5 entities have created platforms that can accelerate an artists growth, as long as the music is exceptional. They’re also able to gather the youth through innovative schematics, furthering the Florida light. Expect more greatness from the Florida entertainment scene, as this is only the beginning.