Each night will feature a poppin’ event tailored for Miami—a swanky dinner gala, a posh celebrity golf tournament, and nights at the clubs. Whatever you choose to attend, expect it to be a party (and possible glimpses of Kevin Hart). Here, we caught up with DJ Irie about his start in music, his favorite Miami spots, and what attendees can expect from this year’s Irie Weekend below.
What are you most excited to see during Irie Weekend?
DJ IRIE: That’s like asking which one of your kids is your favorite [laughs]. But I’m definitely most excited about the brunch event with Kevin Hart [on Sunday] because it’s a new addition to the weekend.
What’s your favorite part of the process?
DI: Setting up is a lot of work and it’s a labor of love, but why we do it, and what the event yields for us—and to be able to do our programs for the Irie Foundation that meet our mission with building the Irie Rhythms Academy—that’s what really drives us and makes it all worthwhile.
Can you tell us a little bit about your Irie Foundation, and what it does for families around South Florida?
DI: Absolutely. Our Cultural Passport Program, which is my personal favorite, gives opportunities for at-risk youth and under-resourced kids in our community. They get to have experiences they wouldn’t usually be able to have access to, ranging from fun to culturally significant things that can be directly related to their future career. For instance, we took 50 of our kids to Disney World, but then we also organize trips to NASA and sports activities.
We want them to be able to have access to the things that they can’t just walk up to and participate in. Tiger Woods would never be Tiger Woods if he was never exposed to the sport. We also have our Impact Scholarship Program, which takes more than just merit into account. Achieving in school is very important, but we want to know about you as a person because what happens if you have kids in a situation where they are the primary caretaker in the household? We really try to uncover those stories and find out the needs that those kids have.
How did you get into dj-ing?
DI: It involves a girl [laughs]. Back in high school, I started collecting records and I had a huge crush on a girl that was really good friends with my next door neighbor. He sets it up, and one day they come over and he leaves to do something for his mom. I show her around the house and she eventually sees my record collection and yells, “Look at all these records, I didn’t know you were a DJ!” She then tells her dad to book me for their New Years party. I went and played some songs—I wouldn’t call it djing—I was just playing record after record, but they had a good time. Eventually, I started getting gigs at restaurants (Planet Hollywood), skating rinks, to the radio, and on and on from there.
How did it feel becoming the Miami Heat DJ?
DI: It was the first professional sports franchise official DJ, and I didn’t realize that at first. But ultimately, that’s one of the reasons why I picked the job because I kind of felt like it was such a great canvas to make it my own. I didn’t have to follow any kind of art or previous blueprint. I could just go in there, be myself, and just figure it out. Seventeen seasons later and three championships, we’re still here.
Jamie Foxx and DJ Irie.
What’s the story behind you and Jamie Foxx?
DI: Fifteen years ago, Jamie was in Miami shooting a movie, and at that time, I was working seven nights a week, so every night he went out, I would be there. Third time he saw me, he walks up to me and says, “God dammit, are you the only DJ in Miami?” [Laughs]. And that’s how we met, and one thing led to another.
What’s been the craziest experience you’ve had as a DJ?
DI: There’s been so many, but the most iconic one was one night with Jamie Foxx. We did Robert Downey Jr.’s birthday at his estate in Malibu, and all of Hollywood was there. I start playing a remix of Roxanne. I look up and I see Sting walking on the dance floor, and I don’t know what took over me, but it was right at the point of the chorus. I grab the mic and I just throw it in the middle of the crowd, and he catches it! Right on the beat, he sings, “Roxanne,” and the place erupts. It was so, so sick.
Why shoudl everyone head out to Irie Weekend this Thursday?
DI: It really is the essence of Miami. What’s beautiful about it is you’re having a great time, you are supporting the community, and it’s a great opportunity to meet new friends. All kinds of amazing things have happened at Irie Weekend, but it doesn’t happen for you if you’re not there. I can guarantee you a good time.
Describe your perfect day in Miami.
DI: I like to wake up, go for a run down Venetian, then head to work. For lunch, I like NaiYaRa. In terms of hanging out, I really dig Foxhole, Soho Beach House, and STK. And if it’s a work night, I usually work at either Wall, LIV, or Rockwell. Rockwell and E11EVEN are two of my favorite spots.