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DJ Irie on Kendrick Lamar Keepin' It Real and the Downside of Bottle Service

"Things just couldn't be better," says Miami Heat's DJ Irie about the team he's been with for 12 years. "I'd like to get a second championship ring," he adds hopefully. Well, he along with the rest of South Florida.

Sure, Irie's a fan of the home team, but we asked him if he's ever wanted to root for another while behind the decks at the American Airline Arena. "You know," he admits, "there've been so many guys that come and go, but for that year or two or three, you build a camaraderie. They become your friends. Some of these guys, I've done their weddings, their birthdays; I know their kids, their families. So you want to see them do well." And that just seems like the kind of guy DJ Irie is, a loving dude with a good perspective on things.

Irie is not only providing the tunes at the AAA but he's hosting and spinning a few sets at the upcoming Black Friday Festival with rising hip-hop star Kendrick Lamar and the UR1 festival. This is his first time working with Lamar, though he says he's been following his career for a while. "I'm extremely proud of this guy," he tells us. "Here's someone, he came from a very, very, very rough situation — the streets of Compton — it doesn't get realer than that. Straight up looking up to guys like the Dr. Dres and the Snoops and the Tupacs that made it out of their own situations but stayed true to who they were, and he was able to fall into the same footsteps."

Unlike Lamar, who's new to the game, Irie's been around for a minute, and we didn't give up the opportunity to ask him what he thinks about Miami's changing nightlife scene. "I'm definitely impressed by the level of entertainment that our nightclubs deliver on a nightly basis," he says. Still, "I think some of the table-service stuff, bottle service, is a little out of control. And God bless people that have the means to do that stuff. But when they're making a spectacle of who can buy more bottles... That kind of thing has its place, but I come from an era where you just go to a concert to have a good time."

Though we spoke with him for only half an hour, he reflected a warmth and goodness not found in most. Irie is also a philanthropist and all-around do-gooder. He credits Alonzo Mourning with fostering this side of him. "I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with him in my early days with the Heat," he says. Irie used to head out into the community with the basketball player to speak at schools. He learned a lot from Mourning's attitude toward the students. The idea was: "If we can change a life here today, there's nothing more important." And Irie realized, "You don't have to be Alonzo Mourning to take an interest in your community."

After that, "If I could help," he says, "the answer was always yes."

This led him to start the Irie Foundation to help provide kids in need with after-school activities. "When you get to see the talent with these kids...," he trails off. "We want to make sure they have the opportunity to go to college." With Irie's help, it's an ace in the hole.

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Liz has her master’s degree in religion from Florida State University. She has since written for publications and outlets such as Miami New Times, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Ocean Drive, the Huffington Post, NBC Miami, Time Out Miami, Insomniac, the Daily Dot, and the Atlantic. Liz spent three years as New Times Broward-Palm Beach’s music editor, was the weekend news editor at Inverse, and is currently the managing editor at Tom Tom Magazine.
Contact: Liz Tracy