It's Thursday afternoon at Wonder Root in Atlanta. Palm Beach's Croosh, Phil Sebastien, and Shay J have just finished their set for Golden Underground's show at the 5-day A3C Hip-Hop Festival.
The festival attracts dozens of big name rappers like Ghostface Killah, A$AP Ferg, 2 Chainz, Talib Kweli, and Meek Mill. There's also managers, producers, DJs, and media who come to Atlanta for discussion panels, networking events, and, of course, performances by both indie and major artists. With no shortage of Atlanta and New York acts, South Florida's presence has not been one with major depth. But this year, their attendance was notable.
After the Golden Underground set finished, next up was J. Nics with Prez P, Kaleem Muhammed (formerly Phresh James), and Miami music video director UnkleLuc. "A lot of us came out here together," J. Nics told us after the show. "We unified and we said, 'Alright, we'll make these moves together.' That creates a presence in itself. Whenever you go to a place and it's a concentrated amount of people as what you're repping the same shit that's a win right there."
Later that night, Miami's Denzel Curry was getting ready to take the stage to perform three songs at the Music Room for the Perfect Attendance Showcase. In attendance was J. Nics, Kaleem, Sly and Reese from Flight School Preps, and music video director FXRBES.
South Florida hip-hop was at it's A3C height.
This was Nics' third consecutive year as a performer and Curry's first. Both recently released critically acclaimed projects, ThreeSixtyFive and Nostalgic 64, respectively, in September.
Not to be outdone, West Palm's main attraction, Will Brennan, performed for his second consecutive year at DJ Burn One's Five Points show and Miramar's Bizzy Crook took the Karmaloop's stage for #SWAG.
"I remember first coming, I think it was three years ago, and I saw Phresh James and J. Nics and that was about it," said Croosh. "And those are two people I look up to and admire, especially coming from South Florida and seeing them on a showcase, and it just built. Right now we have what? Eight, nine people?"
Last year, South Florida's main acts were Nics, Brennan, and Eric Biddines. The difference in numbers from one year to the next, excluding those in attendance, should be of no surprise for those familiar with the music scene many write off due to misconceptions brought on by major artists.
"I feel like the people that are open-minded or have that awakened mind down there, because the vibe down there can have a lot of people, like, they just in zombie mode," said J. Nics. "They don't know what's going on outside of their mouse tunnel."
And though the increased numbers may be a small victory in some eyes, to others, more could've been done. "We could've been bigger," said Prez P. "I feel like more of us from the crib could've got shows if anything. If that would've happened, we could've had our own stage or something, like a Florida stage. I feel like that should've happened."
And why not? With Robb Bank$'s buzz continuing grow with the release of Tha City, SIN working on the follow-up 7 Deadly and Prez P set to release Ambiance soon, South Florida's presence can only continue to grow at next year's A3C.
But why wait until then? SXSW is in March.