Tag Archives: moombahton

How moombahton went from the hot sound to passe to influencing today’s biggest pop hits

If you’ve turned on the radio at any time in the past few years, you’ve heard major pop hits — Justin Bieber’s “Sorry,” Drake’s “One Dance,” Major Lazer’s “Lean On,” Luis Fonsi’s Bieber-featuring “Despacito” — that are united by one thing: the syrupy, midtempo grooves of Afro-Caribbean sounds such as dancehall and reggaeton. But fans of the electronic music underground have heard something else: the unmistakable signature of moombahton, a genre with a legendary origin story based in a Prince George’s County, Md., basement that was the hottest trend in dance music at the start of the decade. But in the quickly shifting dance music landscape, moombahton had its big moment, then gave way to the next hot sound. So how did it end up being reborn in some of the biggest pop songs of all time?

Read more in the Washington Post.

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DC Duos: Cam Jus and Billy the Gent

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.”

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Miguel – Sure Thing (Cam Jus remix).mp3″ text=”Miguel – Sure Thing (Cam Jus remix)” dl=1]

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.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Cam Jus – Ease the Pain.mp3″ text=”Cam Jus – Ease the Pain” dl=1]

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.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Cam Jus – Metro Center (Step Back).mp3″ text=”Cam Jus – Metro Center (Step Back)” dl=1]

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.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Torro Torro – Knockin’ Boots (Bill’s fr33ky Moombahton Edit).mp3″ text=”Torro Torro – Knockin’ Boots (Bill’s fr33ky Moombahton Edit)” dl=1]

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.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Vibrate 2.0.mp3″ text=”Billy the Gent / Long Jawns – Vibrate” dl=1]

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.

Aaliyah lives on in remixes, samples and covers

On the tenth anniversary of Aaliyah’s death, it’s fair to expect plenty of tributes and memorials for the R&B sensation. Her passing, at the too-soon age of 22, left millions of fans without the singer who dominated and revolutionized the R&B landscape of their youth.

Thankfully, her music lives on. In fact, it’s even found new life thanks to a preponderance of bass music that draws heavily from the R&B of the late 1990s and early 2000s. For these producers, Aaliyah continues to be a muse, much as she was for Timbaland. Here are some of the best remixes, samples and covers of Aaliyah’s work.

Remixed

“Are You That Somebody”

Brenmar, Cedaa and Deadboy are at the forefront of the rhythm and bass movement, and they’ve all taken one of Aaliyah’s most notable songs for a ride. The first two infused it with a juke and club vibe, amping up the energy on Timbaland’s classic beat, while Deadboy’s version is sparser.



[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/cedaa-aaliyah.mp3″ text=”Aaliyah – Are You That Somebody? (Cedaa remix)” dl=0]

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/deadboy-aaliyah.mp3″ text=”Aaliyah – Are You That Somebody? (Deadboy remix)” dl=0]

“4 Page Letter”

Montreal’s CFCF drags Aaliyah’s ballad into a moody, skittering exploration of bass. This one wouldn’t be out of place on Tri Angle Records.

“If Your Girl Only Knew”

Japan’s BD1982 gets dissonant on his street bass bootleg of “If Your Girl Only Knew,” juxtaposing Aaliyah’s gentle voice with wobbly synths and twinkling effects.


“One in a Million”

A bit of an outlier, this remix by Wolf D dates back to the song’s original release. However, the bouncy Miami bass beat has come back into vogue, giving this track an old school/new school feel.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/wolfd.mp3″ text=”Aaliyah – One In A Million (Wolf D Big Bass Mix)” dl=0]

Moombahton with Sonora

San Antonio producer Sonora has a firm hand on the moombahton derivative moombahsoul, as evidenced by his tropical edits of “Rock the Boat” and “One in a Million” (titled “Amor de Aaliyah”). The latter is an especially smooth edit.


Sampled

Two masters of post-dubstep bass music have built songs around Aaliyah samples, in different but effective ways. James Blake’s “CMYK” is a grower, and a sample from “Are You That Somebody” soars above waves of synth and sub-bass. Zomby’s rave throwback “Float” features a “Rock the Boat” couplet (“Boy you know you make me float / Boy you get me high”) as its hook.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads//2011/08/cmyk.mp3″ text=”James Blake – CMYK” dl=0]

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/float.mp3″ text=”Zomby – Float” dl=0]

Similarly, both Drake and associated act The Weeknd have used bits of Aaliyah’s vocals for their songs, on “Unforgettable” and “What You Need,” respectively. In the latter, it’s as a distorted loop in the sensual mix.


Covered

The XX’s trademarked sound strips R&B down to its minimalist essentials; their cover of “Hot Like Fire” does the same. On the other hand, UK funky vocalist Kyla covers of “At Your Best” much in the same slow jam style of the original.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/xx_hot.mp3″ text=”The XX – Hot Like Fire” dl=0]

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Kyla – At Your Best.mp3″ text=”Kyla – At Your Best” dl=1]

Aaliyah may be gone, but it’s clear that she is not forgotten. A generation of artists continue to pay tribute to the R&B singer, and her voice lives on.

Update: As he’s been known to do, Hudson Mohawke just outdid everyone with his latest remix. Here’s his massive, aqua crunk take on “Are You That Somebody?”


The Moombootleg: An Unofficial History of Moombahton, Part 2

Answering the question “what is moombahton?” couldn’t possibly be answered in one post. Today, I’ll move on from the OGs (mostly), recalling a year that saw moombahton bounce across the world.

Jon Kwest, “Run Di Track”

While moombahton is a global movement and not a regional one, it found a special place with the club music scene (not surprising, considering Dave Nada’s roots). Philly by way of Baltimore DJ Jon Kwest is a perfect example of this, contributing to both Bmore Original and Moombah Original records. “Run Di Track” has the car siren synths of Dutch house and a beat that doesn’t give up.

Pier Bucci & Samim, “Hay Consuelo (Obeyah edit)”

Moombahton allows a producer to infuse it with his own style. DC’s Obeyah takes a turntablist mentality to the deep house of “Hay Consuelo,” proving that every song in the set doesn’t have to be a banger to get crowds moving. With the finesse of a house DJ, Obeyah keeps the groove going like none other.

DJ Melo, “Song For My Children (radio edit)”

Melo was the perfect candidate for the third volume of TGRI’s Culipandeo mixtape series (following A-Mac and Heartbreak). With a background of spinning reggaeton, house and Latin music, the Phoenix DJ has the perfect pedigree for moombahton, and the smooth, soulful vibe of this very personal song shines through every time.

Vybz Kartel, “Yuh Love (Boyfriend remix)”

For the next Culipandeo, Marcus reached out to a DJ that spoke to the global nature of the moombahton movement. “Tropical bass” and “Lithuania” are unlikely partners, but Boyfriend (Vytis Gruzdys) makes it work. His edit of Vybz Kartel’s dancehall hit “Yuh Love” actually speeds up the original to the swift 108 BPM where moombahton resides. From Jamaica to Lithuania and back to the States: a very moombahton story.

Alex Clare, “Too Close (Nadastrom remix)”

Leave it to Nadastrom to best all their peers in the moombahton remix game. While their take on Alex Clare’s “Up All Night” is stuck in record company purgatory, “Too Close” remains a peak hour killer with its soulful build and half-time breakdown. Says Alex Clare: “I’m honoured to be associated with moombahton; it’s genuine, no pretence party music. There are not many other genres that can still claim that.”

Long Jawns & Billy the Gent, “Vibrate 2.0”

Just a year ago, Billy the Gent was killing ‘em with wobbles, and now he’s at the center of the moombahton scene, thanks to a firm grip on the zeitgeist and an easygoing, collaborative attitude. With longtime collaborator Long Jawns, the Gent crafted “Vibrate” out of the Petey Pablo track of the same name. “Vibrate” destroys dance floors.

Cam Jus, “Metro Center (Step Back)”

Along with running the spiritual successor to Dave Nada’s Moombahton Mondays (the monthly Tropixxx party) with Billy the Gent, Cam is a producer and DJ bar none. While “Even the Gringoes,” “The Stabs” or “Ease the Pain” would fit in here, this is the quintessential DC moombahton track, from one of DC’s fastest rising stars.

JWLS, “6 foot 7 foot (J-trick remix)”

This track is a bank shot, encapsulating the collaborative culture that moombahton embodies. Take a club favorite Lil’ Wayne track, amp it into a Dutch house banger (courtesy Miami moombahnista JWLS) and then screw it down into moombahton (as Australian wunderkind J-Trick did). Seeing producers across the world work on tracks like this is part of the moombahton mystique.

Alvin Risk & Tittsworth, “Pendejas”

“Pendejas” had floated around the moombahton and DJ scenes for a while before its release Plant Music. Everyone knew it would be major – but the masses had to wait. With an insane video shot at Tropixxx – including a Titts “stage” dive – “Pendejas” is already a moombahton classic.

“What is moombahton?” As these producers and many more have proven, the answer is always changing. It’s been a hell of a ride, and it’s only beginning.

Download: The Moombootleg

The Moombootleg: An Unofficial History of Moombahton, Part 1

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.

Postcultural and TGRIOnline present… The Moombootleg: An Unofficial History of Moombahton

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

EP Roundup: "If you in DC, just turn up the bass."

The defining principle of moombahton is a battle between the agony and the ecstacy. Sharp-edged bangers that wear their Dutch house and dubstep influences on their sleeves versus tropical baby making music. To genre pigeon-holers, moombahcore versus moombahsoul. To a skilled moombahnista, the two styles are the ebb and flow of a set, pulling from all across the spectrum of passion.

On new EP NightVision, it’s clear that Cam Jus has the battle under control. After teasing audiences with original compositions “The Stabs” and “Even the Gringos” and remixes of M.I.A.’s “Boyz” and Doctor P’s “Big Boss,” the Tropixxx DJ releases four tracks that will surely be in moombahton sets everywhere.

For your soul, Cam flips Lisa Fischer’s 1991 classic “How Can I Ease the Pain.” Then he digs even deeper, remixing Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “Keep Your Head to the Sky.” Both tracks are tributes to Cam’s deep musical knowledge.

For the party, Cam brings it on both the title track and “Metro Center (Step Back).” “NightVision” is a pulsing jam that bounces between sawtooth synths and bubbly bass. The highlight, however, is the previously released “Metro Center.” The WMATA sampling tune is the best tribute to DC since Dave Nada’s “Moombahton” demanded that “If you in DC, just turn up the bass.”


Tittsworth and Alvin Risk need no introduction, and their long-awaited Two Strokes Raw EP brings moombahton to new levels. Like Munchi’s Murda Sound before it, Two Strokes Raw combines the duo’s Baltimore club, electro and rave influences with the nascent genre, birthing something exciting and new.

For the most part, this isn’t straight, 108 moombahton – and that’s a good thing. “Porcacheese” is more tropical electro than moombahton, and “Carta Boost” (featuring club legend Scottie B) is the sound of being lost in Baltimore at 4 in the morning.

The next step for moombahton is songs with organic, recorded vocals – not just samples. To that end, “La Campana” features Mad Decent singer Maluca over its skittering club beat. And as good as “La Campana” is, it has nothing on siren-fueled banger “Pendejas.” The bass is funky and unrelenting, and the 30-second build halfway through the song is simply explosive. Keep an eye out for the track’s video, recorded at an especially rambunctious Tropixxx party.

Two Strokes Raw was written expressly for the sound system of U Street Music Hall, so tomorrow night’s EP release party is sure to be epic. In the same vein, mark your calendar for the next Moombahton Massive – June 16 – featuring Nadastrom, Jen Lasher, Billy the Gent & Cam Jus, Tom B, and Obeyah.

Download: Cam Jus – NightVision
Buy: Tittsworth & Alvin Risk – Two Strokes Raw

EP Roundup: Moombahton Edition

The moombahton movement continues, and while I can’t offer daily reviews (like some people), occasionally a few releases will come along that require special attention. On these three new releases, each moombahnista’s background shines through in service of personal, powerful tunes.

Pickster & MeloArizonaton

Pickster and Melo have held down the moombahton scene in Phoenix since the beginning. Together, the pair have had well-received songs on Summer of Moombahton and the Moombahton Massive III EP.

The Arizonaton EP opens with the soulful “Fat Booty,” which is built around the Aretha Franklin sample (“One Step Ahead”) that drives the Mos Def classic “Ms. Fat Booty.” Melo’s “Es Dificil” is a flip of a song by reggaeton performer De La Ghetto; this is the type of edit that only a DJ with deep reggaeton roots can pull off, which Melo has. Arizonaton has something for everyone, including the requisite moombahcore banger “Going Out to the Hardcore.”


Billy the Gent / Long Jawns / JWLSVibrate Chick

Billy the Gent is a producer to watch. Just a year ago he was killing ’em with wobbles and now he’s at the center of the moombahton scene. His secret? A firm grip on the zeitgeist and an easygoing, collaborative attitude; this is a dude everyone wants to work with.

With longtime collaborator Long Jawns, the Gent crafted “Vibrate” out of the Petey Pablo track of the same name. “Vibrate” is a perfect, booty-dropping peak hour track. Miami’s JWLS offers a remix of “Vibrate” and works with Billy on “Chick Like This.” The marching drums and gunshots on the latter are simply vicious; I want this song to play whenever I enter a club.


Philadelphyinz / Uncle Jesse / Obeyah8 Inches of Moombahton

May 19th is a special all-Moombahton edition of Tropicalismo in Philadelphia; 8 Inches of Moombahton marks the occasion.

Apt One continues to morph house tracks into smooth moombah ones. While David Heartbreak gave “Witch Doktor” a shot previously, Apt One’s take is superior. Skinny Friedman’s “Alison Brie Running in Slow Motion” is space-funk-moombahton, made even better by the best name I’ve seen in a while (knowing the reference helps). Obeyah gets to the heart of moombahton, slowing down “Like This,” while Uncle Jesse’s percussive “Art Attack” relies a little too much on the “bloodclot” sample.

Download: Arizonaton
Download: Vibrate Chick
Download: 8 Inches of Moombahton