Miami's Marketing Guru, Abebe Lewis, Launches Interview Series "Behind the Culture and Beats"
Updated: Jun 4, 2021
Rapper French Montana (left) and Abebe Lewis
Photo: Courtesy of Instagram @abebelewis
"…experience, acquired in humility and with hard work, means everything."
By Llerraj Esuod
Abebe Lewis is determined to fulfill the meaning of his Ethiopian name, which means to blossom. Lewis, 44, is like a rose growing from cracks in concrete—defining and developing a niche for himself outside of his family's iconic nameplate.
His father, Ian Lewis, is co-founder of the Grammy award-winning reggae band, Inner Circle, extraordinary footprints Abebe could follow if he chose to wind the crystal stairs his dad's international legacy provides.
Not one to rest on even his father's laurels, Abebe is working to establish a legacy of his own. As helm of the North Miami based Circle House Studios, his focus is on nurturing and providing exposure for artists who might not otherwise get a shot.
"It's about the personal work," the multifaceted entrepreneur said.
At it for nearly two decades, South Florida's music and entertainment landscape are ideal for Lewis' seminal video series, Behind the Culture and Behind the Beats, each addressing the musical duality of his Jamaican-American citizenry.
Behind the Culture explores the history of Caribbean artists and their relevance, influence and global impact on audiences by spotlighting acclaimed musicians like Bob Marley and his posterity Yohan and Jo Mersa. Beats keep a pulse on trends within the urban music movement by providing a marquee speak-space for up-and-coming or often uncelebrated artists.
"Being in the music industry for so long," Lewis said, he has "seen a lot of artists who haven't (or don't) get to have their voices heard." Specifically, "local artists," he added.
He's alarmed by the lack of support for Miami R&B and hip-hop artists, a significant contrast to the way cities like Atlanta and Houston seem to honor the "need to support homegrown talent."
"In Atlanta, there may be there 14, 15, or 20 groups signed, but here, in Miami, I cannot name them like that. Maybe Ball Greezy, Ace Hood or Smoke Purp," he noted.
Lewis is a visionary who prefers action to talk, so instead of ranting on Instagram or YouTube, he uses his interview-style shows as "strategic outlets to get at the people I want to get at. To have substantive conversations with the unsung, to discuss the current trends in mainstream radio through meaningful dialogue."
An analog dude in a digital world, Lewis is nostalgic for the days when program directors "were more involved with songs put into rotation and untapped talent was discovered," he said.
He credits Miami’s WEDR 99.1 Jamz retired radio program director Cedric Hollywood’s keen ear for being able to predict hits, as he did with the early 2000’s Miami-based rap group the Iconz’s Get Crunk’d Up. He continues to do so as a consultant for next up entertainers.
"Today, many program directors do not see the value in unheard-of artists," he mused, adding, "there is a lot of talent in Miami that is not being acknowledged."
Lewis said he loves his city, and much of what he does is integral to further branding the metropolis; however, his work and ambition extend beyond the 305, encompassing "the business as a whole."
He's thinking globally, and his shows are a prism of clarity on all thing's music.