Miami musician has high hopes for Urban music weekend

MIAMI - Among the crush of tourists and beyond the headlines of police shootings are recording artists like the 26-year-old musician known as Shifta. He will be among many artists hoping to make it big during Urban Beach weekend.

Born in Jamaica and raised in Miami, where he graduated from Coral Reef High School and FIU, Shifta blends Caribbean dancehall traditions with new electronic sounds in his music. Singing, and sometimes rapping, Shifta records in South Florida at C-Rod Studios in Doral. His label, Miami-based Timeless Records, was created more than two years ago, but has been up and running for a year.

"I would definitely call it Caribbean fusion," Shifta said of his energy-infused music.

He and his business partner, Chris Thomas, believe music was always the backbone of Urban Beach Week; a few days that have gotten a bad rap.

"You have bad apples that -- they, unfortunately, reflect on the majority of people," Shifta said.

"How often do you have a lot of people from the music industry in one location for three days?" Thomas said.

Urban Beach weekend typically draws thousands of revelers to South Beach. Thomas said the opportunity for an up-and-coming artist to meet a big name star can be a career starter. Rubbing elbows with the industry's elite isn't uncommon at all.

"Maybe you have an opportunity to just personally hand your demo and they may listen to it. Change your life," Thomas said.

This weekend, Shifta won't be alone hitting clubs and working connections.

"We'll just concentrate on interacting with the fans," Shifta said.

He'll promote his new CD on Timeless Records called Plan B, and spread the message that music can heal any rift.

"I just hope this weekend that everybody's careful -- everybody's on their best behavior. And we show the world, especially those who don't want this weekend to continue, we can create a positive environment. It's very important," he said.

More information about Shifta's music can be found at

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