As Dave Nada’s accidental creation continues to grow, spurned on by a vibrant, global underground fan base, DJs and producers of all stripes are finding their voice with moombahton. Thanks to a simple formula and a rich palette of sounds, the genre is whatever you make of it. That seems to be the philosophy behind two of the biggest names in the scene, DC’s own Cam Jus and Billy the Gent.
Cam Jus has been DJing in DC for a few years now, and his trademarks continue to be his chilled-out personality and musical versatility. Depending on the crowd and venue, Cam is at ease spinning Top 40, electro, dancehall and all points in between. Appropriately, he’s also fluent in that fusing of hip-hop and house music from our neighbors up I-95, Baltimore club. His first remixes were Bmore versions of songs by DMV stalwarts Wale and Blaqstarr, and he’s continued to flip tracks into the frenetic style, like this breakbeat driven remix of R&B crooner Miguel’s “Sure Thing.”
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For a DJ with such an expansive repertoire and diverse audience base, moombahton was a natural fit for Cam. Similarly, his remixes touch on everything from Jay-Z and Frank Ocean to MIA and Sleigh Bells. His knowledge of R&B, new and old, is paying off as the moombahton derivative moombahsoul takes off; he massaged Lisa Fischer’s classic ballad “How Can I Ease The Pain” into something for a new generation of party-goers.
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Cam is also coming into his own as a producer and songwriter, due in no small part to going back to school for audio engineering last fall. Combine his musical knowledge, ear for a hook, and technical skill and you get a moombahton anthem song that screams DC, “Metro Center (Step Back),” off his Nightvision EP.
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As Cam Jus was making a name for himself in the DC DJ scene, Billy the Gent was doing the same in different sonic territory. A tattoo artist at Adams Morgan’s Tattoo Paradise, the heavily-inked Billy Bennett cuts an imposing figure that is immediately undermined by his laid back nature. Originally performing as DJ Billfold, Billy was throwing parties from Richmond to DC and dropping dubstep that owed more to its UK roots than its arena-filling ambitions.
But like all DC DJs, it was only a matter of time before Billfold started dabbling in moombahton. The transition was sudden and a bit surprising, but after seeing him man the decks at a few Yuh Sundays with Dave Nada at U Hall, it was clear he had the chops to handle bass from the tropics as well as that from the UK. His production work only reinforced this. His Fr33ky Moombahton EP dropped at a time when everything in the nascent scene was “fr33ky” (a leet-speak version of “freaky”). The highlight of the EP is his syrupy remix of Torro Torro’s electrohouse banger “Knockin’ Boots,” which seems better suited for knocking boots than the original ever did.
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Somewhere along the way, Billfold became Billy the Gent, and began focusing almost exclusively on tropical bass. Moombahton’s no pretension, collaboration-heavy ethic is evident in his biggest contribution to the scene. Along with Virginia’s Long Jawns, Billy morphed a sexually charged Petey Pablo sample into a moombahton mating call, “Vibrate.” Then the two sent the track to Miami’s DJ JWLS – an inspiration for the original – who contributed his own remix.
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When it comes to moombahton in DC, all roads lead to the Velvet Lounge. Dave Nada’s Moombahton Monday parties are already legendary, with their early adopter swagger and too-cheap tequilla shots. When Dave moved to LA, the party’s absence left a noticeable mark. A few months later, Cam approached Billy about doing a Sunday monthly at Velvet. With promoters Rookies and Nrdgsm in tow, Tropixxx was born (with three Xs, you know it’s fr33ky).
Since January, Tropixxx has quickly grown into a must-attend event. The video for “Pendejas” by Tittsworth and Alvin Risk – filmed at Tropixxx – is indicative of what to expect. Falling on the first Sunday of the month, it’s not for the average weekend warrior, and the pro-am nature of a Sunday night party keeps it packed with only true moombahtonistas.
They might have taken very different paths to get there, but Cam Jus and Billy the Gent are carrying the flame for the moombahton movement, finding their voices just as the city finds its own.
The next Tropixxx is October 2. Before then, the guys will be opening for London house producer Jesse Rose at U Hall on Thursday, September 29. They’re also on the bill for The Rave at the Warehouse Loft (411 NY Ave) on October 8, with special guests Nina Sky.