Approaching their 30th anniversary as an NBA franchise, the Miami Heat are one of the league’s glamour teams thanks to three championships, but also to the celebrity environment that DJ Irie has helped cultivate in his 18 years performing for his hometown squad.
Those relationships will be on full display during the 13th annual Irie Weekend Thursday-Sunday, June 29-July 2, which will include performances and appearances by comedian Kevin Hart and rappers Future, T.I. and Lil Yachty, as well as a celebrity golf tournament and a birthday brunch for Hart. The events benefit the Irie Foundation and its mentoring efforts for at-risk youth in South Florida.
The big get for Irie Weekend 2017 was Hart, a “good friend” whom Irie has tried to involve in his charity event for years, only to have the comedian’s standup schedule and his expanding TV and film work get in the way. Irie had assumed that Hart, with a new movie out (“Captain Underpants”) and a book tour (“I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons”), would again be too busy this year.
“It was funny, but a couple of months ago, he called me,” Irie says. “He said, ‘Hey, I looked online to see when it is, and I think I can do Irie Weekend this year. I’m available that Sunday.’ ”
Irie was happy to hear the news, but there was a problem: “I said, ‘Dude, it’s over that Saturday,’ ” he recalls, with a laugh. So Irie adjusted, and Irie Weekend, which typically ends on Saturday, has Sunday events this year.
The festivities open with the sold-out #InspIRIE gala dinner at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Eden Roc Miami Beach Resort, followed by a celebrity golf tournament 11 a.m. Friday at the Miami Beach Golf Club. (Best celebrity golfer DJ Irie knows: Alonzo Mourning. The worst: DJ Irie.)
Pop-chart staples take over Friday night, with Lil Yachty performing at Liv nightclub at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach at 11 p.m.; tickets cost $45. T.I. and O.T. Genasis headline the IWXII Sea-B-Q pool party at the Eden Roc at noon Saturday; tickets cost $75 (food extra). Future takes the stage at IWXIII After Dark at E11even nightclub in Miami 10 p.m. Saturday; get ticket information at 11Miami.com.
Sunday is all about Hart, beginning with Kevin Hart’s All-Star Birthday Brunch noon-8 p.m. at the River Yacht Club in Miami. Brunch costs $140 per person, or $75 without the meal. At 11 p.m., the All-star Celebrity Birthday Bash honors Hart, who turns 38 on July 6, at Liv nightclub; get ticket information at LivNightclub.com.
In addition to the headliners, there’s no telling who else may show up. Irie recently DJ’ed the Golden State Warriors’ NBA championship celebration at the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. The Warriors’ Draymond Green is a close friend, he says.
“Moving around and being in those circles [as the Heat’s resident DJ], I get to forge friendships with a lot of players,” Irie says.
Since 2011, the Irie Foundation has mentored young people in social skills and arts and culture education. Irie is currently developing a state-of-the-art studio called the Irie Rhythms Academy in the Carnival Center for Excellence building near Miami International Airport. Big Brothers Big Sisters is also in the building.
The Irie Rhythms Academy will offer instruction on all facets of music production and the business behind it. It will be free to students who meet certain academic and attendance benchmarks, Irie says.
“I am a product of the arts. I wouldn’t be who I am today if I didn’t have friends that were in the business and access to the kinds of equipment that I needed to follow what would become my passion,” says Irie, a graduate of Palmetto Senior High School. “I have personally seen so much talent go by the wayside because they’ve never gotten the hands-on experience to really explore what would be their talent.”
For tickets and more information about Irie Weekend 2017, go to IrieWeekend.com.