Even though it seems ubiquitous, devotees of moombahton must remember that their cherished genre is still a mystery to the music world at large. For those of us who have been following the ascendant sound, it’s easy to forget that most people can’t answer the question, “what is moombahton?”
Describing it as a Dutch house and reggaeton hybrid certainly doesn’t do the trick – that’s just jargon. You could try retelling the genre’s “origin story,” as it were, with Dave Nada slowing down a record into something more palatable for his cousin’s skip party, but that’s a setting, not a sound. Play the Nada-compiled Blow Your Head 2, and you get a specific vision of moombahton, albeit through Mad Decent’s rose-colored glasses. None of these give you a complete picture of a genre that has undergone so much in just over a year.
For those reasons and more, I’ve compiled The Moombootleg: 19 tracks over 80 minutes that attempts to present the story of moombahton for beginners. Moombahnistas might get a bit of nostalgia from these tracks, as I did when assembling it, but the real audience is your co-worker, your siblings, or even your parents, so they can finally understand moombahton. You can even fit it on a CD (remember those?) and let it blow the car speakers out as you educate your neighborhood.
Dave Nada, “Moombahton”
The track that started it all. Its birth a 21st century accident: “Moombah” by Silvio Ecomo & Chuckie, remixed by Afrojack, made new by Dave Nada. The word “moombahton” had been floating around social networks since Nada played his new tunes at Winter Olympics afterparties, but the public didn’t hear it until he took over the decks at a pair of late night gigs, first at the Rock and Roll Hotel, and then post-KIDS at DC9. I was at the latter, and the visceral experience will stay with me forever.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Heads Will Roll (A-Mac Moombahton Edit)”
One of the first producers to grab Dave’s edits and make some moombahton was Calgary DJ A-Mac. The original “Heads Will Roll” was already a hit, and A-Trak’s electro edit made it palatable for the dance floor. A-Mac’s edit of the latter was one of the first of many moombahton edits and remixes to spread like wildfire. I interviewed A-Mac; he would go on to put together the first Culipandeo mixtape for TGRIOnline.
Steve Starks, “Lydia (Nadastrom’s Moombahton Remix)”
Back in DC, Nouveau Riche party-starters Steve Starks and Nacey were prepping their second EP, and first for T&A Records, Time Run Out. Starks’ Latin house jam “Lydia” is built around a sample of the father of reggaeton, El General. With that lineage, it begged for a moombahton remix. Nadastrom obliged with this bonus track.
Munchi, “Metele Bellaco”
Munchi’s story dovetails nicely with that of moombahton. The self-described “kid with big hair that loves to make all kinds of music” had already released promo EPs in various styles – Baltimore club, baile funk and even dubstep – but it wasn’t until his moombahton promo that his name ricocheted through the electronic music community. “Metele Bellaco” is moombahton at its finest: the “Planet Rock” riff, the Yaviah rap, and the Dutch house drums could only come from a Dominican living in Rotterdam. This is how a global movement is built.
Dave Nada, “Punk Rock Latino (Moombahton edit)”
T&A continued its moombahton dominance, including this gem off the EP of the same name. While “La Gata” and “KRS Moombahton” are arguably more essential to the sound, this is practically Nada’s theme song, biography and motto all in one.
Heartbreak & Munchi, “Boneknuckles (Moombahton Remix)”
At TGRIOnline, Marcus Dowling and I had faithfully been covering every development in the genre, so when we received an email from Munchi it felt like Christmas. Munchi described the origin of each track on this collaborative EP with Charlotte producer David Heartbreak, in a verbose style that he would repeat in each successive announcement email. The Munbreakton EP brought hip-hop, R&B, baile funk, and bubbling influences to the forefront. Together or separate, there would be no moombahton without Heartbreak and Munchi.
Drop The Lime x East Flatbush Project, “Tried by Sex Sax (Doc Adam Moombahton Edit)”
For underground club-goers, Drop the Lime’s “Sex Sax” was the song of the summer in 2010. Portland’s Doc Adam mashed it up with a throwback to ‘96, East Flatbush Project’s “Tried by Twelve.” The remix refreshed DTL’s bass jam for moombahton fans.
Munchi, “Pun Aint Dead”
Following up where Munbreakton left off was the Fuck H & M promo. Only Munchi could mix salsa great Héctor Lavoe with rapper Big Pun and pull it off. The first of many anthemic moombahton bangers, the producer summed it up best: “Who the fuck invited Pun? Yeah I did, fuck you.”
Heartbreak, “Shy Day” and “King Kong”
Like Munchi, Heartbreak is an extremely prolific producer with a strong grasp on moombahton and its possibilities. That’s why TGRIOnline booked him to play with DJs Cam Jus and Obeyah. Unfortunately, the night was a bust, but it did get three rising producers in the same room. Heartbreak’s third Moombahma EP (M3) dropped that November, giving a name to moombahton’s first subgenres: the moombahsoul of “Shy Day” and the moombahcore of “King Kong.” Whether sampling Sade or Denzel, Heartbreak is a pro. Yet even he couldn’t have predicted the staying power of “King Kong:” “I do not expect people to dance to this shit, or even play it in the club, but fuck it, every song has its place… and [its] is the gutter.”
Check back tomorrow for the second installment of this unofficial history of moombahton, as the movement goes global while keeping DC at the forefront.
Download: The Moombootleg