Art that needs to be explained is not good art, it's bullshit. That being said, I'm a man of contradictions and since I claimed in my previous post I wouldn't give away the play list for Mersaholic, I'm gonna say now, fuck it all, and contradict myself one more time by explaining to you some of the bits and pieces used on my latest mix. Why? Because I'm full of shit and so is my work and sometimes I think some of my readers need a hand when it comes to shit appreciation. Anyway, here's some Hard Data on the a few iconic tracks included in the collage.
00:07 - Carlos Gardel - Un Bailongo: I found this LP a long time ago, digging at a small record store in San Francisco. It has this absolutely perfect intro for almost any mix with tango pioneer Carlos Gardel saying something like "Attention guys, the dance party is about to start!" and since then I've been waiting for an excuse to use it. When I started recording Mersaholic my first decision was to use as much real vinyl as I could on this new project and so for the intro I mixed this track with another old vinyl by somebody called Jorge Reyes whom I have no idea who he is and how this record turned up among my collection (I think it belonged to a former roommate who left it behind). Jorge Reyes album is a very new-agey approach to pre-columbine American music and it has plenty of these atmospheric breaks with mumbling and weird nature sounds so I decided to use it as background noise for Gardel's announcement as if he was in an actual party. It worked out pretty well I think.
02:19 - Soda Stereo - Zoom: This one is the most openly obvious sample used in the whole Mersaholic mix. Instantly recognizable by all latinos of the world because it was the last single released by the greatest band in Latin American rock history before they broke up. Maybe if you come from an English-speaking country you have no idea about this, but Soda Stereo were pretty much the main instigators of something like a rock en español movement all over the continent during the 80's and early 90's. "Zoom" from 1995 is one of my favorite songs ever and it's so easy to sample that I wonder why there are not like a million remixes of it out there. DJing at Latin parties I always tend to include this song mashed up with a reggaeton or cumbia beat and people's response is great. So why isn't anybody doing this? Maybe they are and I don't know. I'd pay to be able to spin a Toy Selectah remix of this song but since there's not such a thing available yet, I mashed it up here with the intro beat of Toy's remix of Miranda! and Julieta Venegas' song "Perfecta" and then fucked it up with a lot of filters and effects.
03:10 - Illya Kuryaki & The Valderramas - Es Tuya Juan: I only chose this vocal sample because of the obvious reason that it says my name. But then I realized that some way or another I've been including some Illya Kuryaki on all my mixes of 2009. Linyerismo Episode I had the instrumental intro of "Jaguar House" remixed by Toy Selectah. Its sequel had another vocal sample in the beginning of Dante Spinetta (one of the two former MC's of IKV, gone solo) saying "desde Argentina!" from his song "El Apagón". Also in Episode II of Linyerismo I sampled the instrumental break of "Cumbia Sicodélica" by Emmanuel Hourvilleur (the other half of the duo). Now I'm not really a big fan of this proto-rap Argentine group but I did listen to them quite a bit back in the early-to-mid nineties before there was an actual hip-hop scene in Buenos Aires and so that's all we could get to see live on stage. So I guess they've been a big subliminal influence. They always had this sort of ironic approach to b-class pop culture that I love and coming from a hip-hop foundation they both ended up experimenting a little bit with cumbia in recent years. So big respect for both. "Es Tuya Juan" was their very first single, released back in 1991 when they were just two horny 15 year old teenagers, it was a big hit at the moment and people used to joke around with that song a lot in front of me because of my name. Somewhere in my mom's house I must still have the cassette tape of this.
07:13 - Chacho Brodas - Gypsy Woman: For ten years now I've been telling people that Griffi is the best hip-hop producer in the Spanish-speaking world. If you are into serious beat production I strongly suggest you pick up his stuff. He started with the group Solo Los Sólo (which I briefly sampled on Linyerismo Episode I) and then did production for lots of other artists including Tremendo, whose album Vidalogía is definitely one of the best rap-in-spanish records ever released worldwide if not THE best. Don't even try to argue that one. Anyway, Griffi's most current project is Chacho Brodas, a band he formed with tons of friends, including Tremendo, and they do some mind-blowing experimental shit that I can't even start to explain, so you gotta check it out. I really wanted to have some Griffi here even though it didn't fit at all with his style, just because I wanted to give him props for all the inspiration his work provides me. But because his shit is absolutely incompatible with cumbia I was only able to mix in a 2 seconds bit from this song that's not even easy to find because it's under three layers of sound. Anyway, this is my very humble respects paying for the best producer ever.
07:18 - Gonzalo Martinez - La Cumbia del Pepino: Now here I need all your help, because there's very little I know about this artist and it's urgent that I find out more, because he might be the missing link in neo-cumbia evolution. I found his album Gonzalo Martinez And His Thinking Congas almost by mistake on emusic.com and it has no information at all. It says it was released in 1998 and by the references sampled I assume it's from Chile. I also know it was released by the same label that released the first Señor Coconut albums so I assume Martinez has something to do with the German artist while he was living in Chile. But that's all speculation. That's it. I couldn't find anything else online. The album has a lot of electronic cumbia, sort of primitive and minimal but very interesting and easy to mix. Here I mashed it up with a track from the Mexicans Sonido Desconocido but if you wanna listen to the tracks in their original form, I suggest you pick up his album (he also has a collection of remixes available).
09:14 - The Michels Affaire - Criminology: I was at a bbq in the park and one song from this album came out of the speakers. First I thought it was the classic Wu-Tang track, after a couple of minutes without rapping I thought, "oh, it must be the original song that RZA sampled for that beat." Then I realized I was wrong all along. This is a band that plays instrumental funk/soul and recently released an album called Enter the 37th Chamber where they reproduce, live, the instrumental tracks of Wu-Tang Clan. How irresistible is that? I was looking for Wu-samples to mix with cumbia breaks and instead I found this. Amazing! Highly recommended.
11:17 - Grupo Fantasma - Chicken Little: I talked about Grupo Fantasma a few posts below and about how they are the best cumbia band in the United States and their musicians go on tour with Prince. Here I used a break from their song "Chicken Little" and a short vocal sample from that same song but in a way that's barely recognizable from the original. I also added the voice of a girl laughing on top of it and that girl, my friends, is my very beloved Anita Tijoux, from Chile/France, the best female MC of the whole Spanish-language rap world. She's part of all my mixes too (that's how obcessed I am with her). In Linyerismo's first episode I used her verse from "Eres Para Mí", her collaboration with Julieta Venegas remixed by Toy Selectah (that was the best song of 2006 and the one that made me wanna start spinning neo-cumbia). In Linyerismo's sequel I only used the sample from the beginning of her first solo hit, "Despabílate". Now I'm one of the luckiest mutherfuckers in the whole galaxy because once Anita stayed in my house during a visit to Argentina in the year 2000 with some friends and a beat producer who was working on some tracks with her at the time. This guy made the mistake of leaving inside the CD drive of my computer a disc with all the open tracks of a recording Anita never actually released, including the out takes. That laugh came from one of those out takes.
14:24 - Los Palmeras - La Muy Indigna: Los Palmeras are one of the few remaining successful cumbia bands in Argentina that still kick it old school. They had a huge smash hit a few years ago with "El Bombón Asesino" a song that besides becoming a wedding party classic for years to come, was sampled and remixed to infinity by the neo-cumbia avant-guard and helped establish and expand the emerging scene in Buenos Aires. In fact, the first vinyl release of Bersa Discos was a collection of remixes of that one song. Now of course, Los Palmeras have a pretty large catalog and are far from a one-hit-wonder. This song in particular, from 1994, talks about a woman who was extremely promiscuous and would have affairs with tons of guys from all over the world behind his husband's back. I sampled the bit when they said she went with 20 "gringos" from San Francisco and it's the second reference to my city on this mix, the first being the intro of "San Franciscan Nights" by Eric Burden and The Animals, a rock band from the 60's.
15:27 - Los João - Bailando Toda La Noche: I found this vinyl while digging at a record store in San Francisco, it's called "No Tengo Dinero" (I have no money) and if you look at the lame-ass faces of these dudes in the back of the album, they look pretty broke. I'm assuming they're from Mexico because that's where the album was published in 1984, but I've never heard of them. Pretty much all they do is covers of cheesy wedding-party songs. Most of them are horrible. The one I played is, of course, their take on Lionel Richie's "All Night Long" where they changed the lyrics completely from the original. Hilarius. The type of shit that I imagine Chico Sonido likes to sample.
16:13 - Lía Crucet - Nada: This woman is the personified definition of the word "mersa". She's a cumbia singer who's mostly just famous for having ginormous breasts. Her vocal skills are extremely limited and she never had a crossover hit that I know of, but still she's adored by the masses in Argentina as a cult figure, especially among the gay crowd. I only used a vocal sample from her song "Nada" that I got from the proto-neo-cumbia compilation El Remixero of 1995, a collection of cumbia-pop remixed for the dancefloor in the same style of the Tropitronic mixes of the early 90's that were hugely influential for me. I wasn't able to find a decent scan of the album cover anywhere online, but oddly enough I found the back sheet of the CD which you can download free here.
18:01 - Martín Buscaglia - Cerebro, Orgasmo, Envidia y Sofía: Wow! That's an irresistible funky bass loop! All the way from Uruguay, this guy surprised the world in 2006 with the eclectic and catchy El Evangelio Según Mi Jardinero, a memorable record that the guys from Love Monk in Spain released in vinyl and I'm so thankful to them for doing so! I have the 10 inch single of this song that also includes a guest appearance by Brazilian Arnaldo Antunes and it's one of my favorite records. Anyway, I was almost done recording Mersaholic but I have done this in two big chunks, the first one went all the way up until the "1, 2, 3, 4!" from Black Machine's hip-house classic "How Gee" and the second chunk started with the psychedelic Peruvian cumbia of Juaneco y su Combo. At the time of putting them together I had a really hard time because they were in very opposite keys so there was a massive sound clash. For a week, I tried every day with a different transition and nothing worked until I remembered this bass loop which essentially saved the whole project. I deformed it quite a bit by changing it's key, adding effect and vocal samples from the Colombian hit-machine La Sonora Dinamita and Argentinean cumbia villera star Nestor En Bloque. In the end the result didn't sound too bad. I think.
19:45 - Microphone Killa - Afterdark radio interview #3: During my infinite online researches for more expressions of neo-cumbia I ran into this Tex-Mex gangsta rapper who earlier this year released an album called Cumbia Tribal where he tries to rap over cumbia samples with dubious results due to his lack of lyrical skills (like most Latin immigrants born or raised in the US, his knowledge of the Spanish language is very basic so the rhymes end up being predictable and in very simple metric structures). Anyway, I appreciate the effort and I bought the whole album even knowing that I probably would never spin any of the songs but I was particularly amused by the lazy-ass skits which basically are just pieces from a radio interview where he talks about mixing cumbia with hip-hop. I sampled that for the transition in between Juaneco y su Combo and Afrosound where you can also listen to another Gonzalo Martinez break and that's, I think, the best transition I've done in this whole megamix. Maybe ever.
20:06 - Afrosound - Caliventura: Right now, this is the shit I've been listening to the most. Old school baby! I only found out about this amazing group very recently, which I'm embarrassed to admit, and I'm totally fascinated by it. I know very little about them so I'm not even gonna pretend to know my shit here and I'll limit myself to saying this is probably one of the most interesting Colombian cumbia artists that came out of the Discos Fuentes mothership. If you were interested in researching the African roots of real Cumbia, this is a good point to start.
23:30 - Sugarhill Gang - Apache: Everybody knows about this one. Sugarhill Gang needs no introduction for the hip-hop fans. This song was actually a cover of a song with the same name by The Incredible Bongo Band. It had a monumental drum break what has been sampled by everybody and their mothers and it's a b-boy's must. But instead of the classic version I went for Sugarhill's cover because they added this Latin percussion that went perfectly with the mix. For the transition into this track I also overlapped a vocal sample from De La Soul's first single "Plug Tunnin'" and De La Soul is by far one of my favorite hip-hop groups ever, especially when they had Prince Paul doing production. He's definitely another huge influence of me when it comes to sound collages. In fact De la Soul is Dead is definitely one of my desert-island top ten albums. Anyway, that same intro was also used in the song "Classic" by Kanye West, Nas, Rakim and KRS-One with DJ Premier's production. I don't know where the original sample is from but I listed De La Soul because that's where I got it from.
25:33 - Solo - The Big Stef: All I know about this guy is that he's from Italy and he has a very interesting take on Brazilian baile funk and I've been playing that track "Congaloid" at every single gig I had this year (it was also included in Linyerismo Episode II). I also know that my friend and fellow blogger Alta Joya, from Cooliado is perpetually infatuated with this guy and keeps posting about him. Anyway, I was originally going to use his other track from this same EP, "Joga Bola", because it's more obviously Brazilian but I was tired after a whole month of mixing Mersaholic and I wanted to finish it fast, I had lost my patience and even though deep inside I knew I should've gone for a couple minutes more, I decided to finish it there and The Big Stef was the perfect Grand Finale because of that ridiculously grandiloquent opera singing.
27:23 - Johny Tolengo - Mi Fiel Teo: Talk about what a lucky motherfucker am I! I was searching for a funny bit to end this mix and Johny Tolengo came to mind and the first song I play from him has this priceless intro. Johny Tolengo was a comedy TV character from Argentina during the 80's. I was in elementary school and I wouldn't miss any of his shows. It was basically a parody of a rockstar done by comedian Juan Carlos Calabró, absolutely exagerated in his arrogance and his tackiness. He's the supreme embodiment of the word Mersa taken to the extreme (just look at him!) so it was perfect to close Mersaholic. After the success of the TV show, Johny Tolengo was marketed as a kids star, released a big screen movie and two records, even though he can't sing shit. One of his classic songs, "Estás para ganar" is a mandatory party track at all wedding receptions in Argentina and up until today is still sung in the soccer fields by hooligans. The song I chose however is one of his lesser known ones, in the intro Teo, his servant, is very proud because Johny dedicated him a song and the rockstar gives him a copy of the record but warns him, "you can only play it once, because the turntable needle will wear out". Epic.