Raw Power

Just released from prison, Miami hip-hop icon DJ Raw is ready for the takeover

So on a cool, sunny day in March, Raw left Sumter Correctional Institution near Orlando and started work on staging a new Hoodstock. "Since being out, it's just been nonstop. You get a different outlook being in jail for that long that, man, you can't waste no time. Hoodstock is coming back because Miami needs it."

The bass is booming. You can feel the vibrations filtering through the floor. The neatly hung mirrors at Area 61 recording studios in Miami Gardens are in danger of cracking off. It's 9:30 p.m. on a July Thursday night, and the horns blare loudly as if to announce a king's arrival. "Bring the track back, bring it back!" Orion, a local MC, yells as he prepares to freestyle over newly minted beats.

As 20 MCs crowd around in a circle, all freestyling over the beat, Raw stands back and watches in amazement. "When did these kids get so good?" he wonders out loud. Everyone in the room is here to help create the official Hoodstock 2007 theme song. One by one, each lays down a couple of verses to honor DJ Raw.


The vibe is a mix of triumph and warfare, as the MCs make rhymes foretelling a change for hip-hop and Miami.

Hoodstock 2007 is planned to take place the last week of December at — where else? — Roberto Clemente Park. Kayela Flemming, an organizer, puts it this way: "Raw was sent here with a mission, and that's to resurrect Hoodstock. Raw is a man of his word, and he didn't do ten years to see Hoodstock die."

Barely clocking four hours of sleep these days, Raw has a lot of catching up to do. "So much has changed since I've been gone, to Miami, to hip-hop. Man, sometimes I think, 'What would've happened if I didn't get caught?' I mean, seeing dudes like Khaled blowing up, and this was the same cat that begged to play on our radio station back then..." He begins to drift despite the loud chants of MCs yelling "Hoodstock 2007!"

Then he smiles. "Hoodstock 2007, it's for you, Miami. It was always for you. So get ready, because I'm back, and I'm not going anywhere."

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