The Joint of Miami has become the best hip-hop venue in town

The interior walls of The Joint of Miami are adorned with psychedelic artwork inspired by pop culture. A large blue velvet sofa in front of a bizarre mural of Mickey Mouse – depicting the Disney mascot with breasts and a gold pyramid for a head holding a joint whose smoke spells out the words “Stay Lifted” – occupies the cozy bar and the living room. The venue bills itself as Wynwood’s first marijuana-themed lounge.

King Forchion, the 24-year-old CEO of Joint of Miami, sits on the couch alongside his 34-year-old cousin and business partner, Essence Self, who coldly unleashes a matriarch-style free kick. would pour wine. in a glass. The slight generational gap between the two is brought to light as they reminisce about days gone by, each taking turns at the wheel as they navigate in rose-tinted nostalgia.

“Everybody calls me grandma – the old soul, the old one,” Essence says jokingly.

In between memories, they often find themselves referring to NJWeedman, aka Robert Edward “Ed” Forchion Jr.

King usually calls him “Dad” and for Essence he is “Uncle Robby”. In conversation, they sometimes refer to him by his nickname out of respect. A devout campaigner for the legalization of marijuana for decades, the New Jersey native has gained notoriety through countless interviews, political campaigns and weed-related business ventures. The Joint of Miami is simply an extension of the last.

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The Joint of Miami is an extension of NJWeedman’s New Jersey business ventures.

Photo by Karli Evans

When they were teenagers living in South Jersey, King and Essence recall hearing about NJWeedman through friends, parents of friends and teachers, often as if it were some sort of of mythical character. For better or worse, his reputation seeped into the public perception of his family.

“Everyone sees it’s cool, it’s great what he does, but we were also taking a hit,” King recalled.

“Especially anyone with the last name Forchion,” adds Essence. “They automatically assume, ‘Aw, they’ve got a pound of weed on them! “”

Last year, Ed experienced an epiphany during an impromptu excursion to Miami’s arts district. Deeply inspired by the appeal of his surroundings, he transformed a warehouse in Wynwood into ground zero for his suite of NJWeedman’s Joint, which is located in Trenton, the capital of New Jersey. When the Joint of Miami opened in July 2021, Ed handed King the keys to the castle. A year later, the Forchion family has done more than just launch an outlet for cannabis in a new market; they have built a much-needed epicenter for the celebration of black art and music.

Nestled amid South Florida’s teeming cluster of prismatic EDM clubs and endless Latin dance parties, the Joint of Miami is a free-spirited outlier. As most venues make their bread with DJ sets and 21+ crowds, the Joint caters to a distinct clientele of stoners and young underground rap enthusiasts through concerts and live events. direct.

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Outside of local strip clubs, the Joint of Miami has become ground zero for hip-hop in the city.

Photo by Karli Evans

“You don’t get hip-hop here unless you’re in a strip club, bro,” King asserts. “If you have a daughter and your daughter doesn’t want to go, you don’t go to a strip club. If you don’t have a couple hundred dollars to spend at a strip club, you do not go.

He has a point.

Miami has long lacked a dedicated axis for all things hip-hop. With Essence, King has transformed a safe space for Miami potheads into a home for the next generation of internet-born rap stars. In-demand upstarts like BabyTron, Autumn! and Destroy Lonely have rocked the Joint scene for the past three months.

Let’s not twist it, though. The Joint has also hosted some of hip-hop’s oldest icons, Wu-Tang Clan’s Raekwon, Ghostface Killah and GZA. New York’s forward-thinking rap syndicate Griselda Records has left its mark with recent appearances from Boldy James, Stove God Cooks, Jay Worthy and Rome Streetz. Even trap superstars Future and Lil Baby made appearances at last year’s Art Basel.

But King and Essence point out that the Joint’s appeal doesn’t end with hip-hop. Wednesday through Sunday, the venue hosts everything from comedic open mics and Caribbean music nights to art markets and live jazz. The pair values ​​versatility and caters to different types of people with similar roots to theirs.

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A weed-heavy photo collage decorates the walls of the Joint of Miami.

Photo by Karli Evans

“Kinfolk, do you know what I mean?” King said of the Joint’s target audience. “We’re not Latin, we’re not Spanish. There’s too much here to answer that. There’s not enough. We wanted to fill the niche of the hip-hop world.”

The performance area beyond the lounge is vast and made vibrant by colorful light displays above the stage. The space is even larger with a connecting outdoor terrace equipped with a food truck aptly nicknamed the Munchie Mobile. King credits the production teams Joint works with for bringing in high-caliber talent, which in turn brings out the best in the crowds they attract.

The emergence of The Joint as Miami’s main attraction for hip-hop was more of a natural progression than something entirely intentional. As King traces the family’s musical ambitions for the venue, Essence playfully steps in in a way that only a big cousin could pull off.

“Well, no, no, no. Let’s start at the beginning, sir,” she said. “We came here thinking we were going to be a juice bar, which then turned into Latin nights, hip-hop and where we are today. It evolved from [King] buy the stuff from the slushie machine maker in a completely different world.

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“We wanted to break into the hip-hop world,” says King.

Photo by Karli Evans

And it’s a world they both welcome with open arms. Although they’ve had to shapeshift several times since the Joint’s inception, Essence notes that they’ve been lucky not to encounter any major obstacles in their journey thus far. The lack of statics from law enforcement in a state where recreational weed has yet to be legalized has been a blessing.

Even as she laughs at being completely out of place with the new-age rappers the club hosts, there’s a sense of mutual gratitude between her and King for building the platform they have, all while fully embracing cannabis culture.

Literally and figuratively, it’s in their blood.

About James K. Bonnette

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