If you ain’t from Miami, you wouldn’t understand.
Oh but we do. As Miamians hear the opening line to Problem Kids' breakthrough single “My Ami”, a resounding sea of head nods and smiles fill the audience. The enthusiastic expressions of the band’s local fans are those who get what it's like to be a part of a city so quirky and eccentric, only living in this tropical metropolis would grant you access to understanding it.
“We write about what we know,” said Problem Kids frontman Mario Obregon. “There’s a lot of Miami in there because we were raised here, but before that it’s about what you feel and what’s happening. Real stories."
This realness is earning the band a growing fanbase. The local music scene loves them and the people who live outside it are dieing to understand it. Problem Kids, which is comprised of 6 band members from diverse backgrounds like Puerto Rico, Cuba and Jamaica, are a down-to-earth group who like to bend society's traditional perceptions.
“We’re all problem kids at heart,” said Mario Obregon. He continues to point out that “Problem Kids” is not a term for literal misfits, but rather for the misfit in us all. “In a classroom, the smartest kid getting straight A’s is a problem for the other kids trying to succeed.”
It's this natural rebellious spirit that makes these guys so damn likeable. . . and of course, their music. Problem Kids has a sound that’s tough to nail down. It’s definitely in the hip hop genre, but they’re a funky fusion of island hip hop, tropical urban rhythm and nu wave rap. The street-styled music features “Spanglish” lyrics that peg down Miami to a tee. They also have playful songs, like “Scotch”, which opens up with Ron Burgundy's newscast warm up, “I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly. . .” before droppin’ deliciously salacious lyrics like, “I’m the lord of the ring, take down anything that you might try to bring in the ring. It’s my life, and my life is a life but I never give it up for a piece of pie. Because the pie is a bomb detonating in the face of a fool who so desperately wants.”
This authenticity and wickedly clever lyricism has earned them an impressive local and out-a-town following.
“A lot of people believe in their music and are very loyal to them,” said Scott Tenreiro, the band’s photographer. “Everywhere I've gone locally, you see some of the same faces showing them love and bringing in new people to experience their music. While on tour, which I think was a true test of their music, people from outside our city were taken by them. They had a great time and really connected to their art.”
Obregon echoes this sentiment as he chatted with us about performing such culturally charged music with people who aren’t familiar with Miami or its distinct nuances.
“You know, the most American people enjoyed our Spanish stuff,” he laughs as he recounts their tour in Atlanta. “We figured we had to play it not knowing if anyone would like it, and they absolutely loved it!”
With their first tour under their belt, Problem Kids are doing what they do best. The group is in the midst of creating their follow-up album to “Poetry in Motion” and we simply cannot wait to see what they come up with.
As Miami continues to evolve more and more, artists like Problem Kids are forging this cultural movement. Miami, a young city which has been likened to a “petulant millennial”, has seen concrete changes since the birth of Wynwood. While the city is a prominent spot for visual art, the cultural scene is slowly building. At The Emerald Journal, we believe one way to continue supporting this movement is jammin’ to the vibes of local talent.
Catch Problem Kids at local hipster bar Blackbird on November 6th and beatnik lounge Bardot on November 26th.
Have you jammed out to Problem Kids? Do you support your local music and art scene? Share your experiences in that white space below!