Back in 2001 I discovered and instantly fell in love with this Chilean DJ duo called Bitman & Roban (best name ever!) who personally sent me a copy of their album Robar Es Natural for review consideration at the office of magazine I was working for. The album was pure digger's gold, very downtempo-e, according to the times, but full of that original hip-hop aesthetic of making new original music using only pieces of other existing music mixed together. That was the reason I fell in love with hip-hop in the first place, the idea of a music collage, with hidden nods to the attentive listener.
However, one thing that distinguished Bitman & Roban from the rest of the vinyl diggers out there was that they used, in quite ingenious ways, some super recognizable samples of crossover classics (and this was way before Girl Talk made this trend hipster-cool) making their mixes a little more accessible to the masses of non-obscure-vinyl-collectors. I don't know how they got away with doing that for a bunch of albums without getting sued for copyright infringement, specially after they started getting published in the US by Nacional Records with the interesting but much less amazing, Música Para Después Del Almuerzo (where they combined their sampling skills with live instrumentation). But they did got away with it, flying under the radar, I guess.
Then all of a sudden, Bitman decided to go solo... and go Latin. He became Latin Bitman. Yup. I don't really know what motivated this move, but I figure it was a smart business premeditated decision. Regardless of his talent, he was never going to make it in the international market if he kept on sampling funk and old-school hip-hop, because there are already thousands of other DJ's doing that exact same thing in the US. He needed to distinguish himself from the herd and that's probably why he decided to bank on his Latiness (something the average Chilean hip-hopper is not too much in touch with). Once again, this is just my speculation, because I haven't talked to him since '06.
Anyhow, Colour is the second album he releases under the Latin Bitman moniker for Nacional Records and it just came out. It has some instrumental downtempo and bossa nova, some rap in español, plenty of good ol' funk, some English singing and rapping (all ingredients also found in previous work) and surprisingly, some impressive (and very current) electro and also some obvious reggae. But no easily recognizable samples.
Amongst the many guest, we have once again my very favorite Anita Tijoux (she was also featured in Musica Para Después del Almuerzo) doing a rap song ("Insomnio") that is aesthetically closer to the Anita of Kaos than the new Anita of 1977 (now why Nacional will release this and not Anita's album goes beyond my humble levels of understanding of the music business. By the way, did you see Anita's 1977 clip? Dude, personal friendship and obvious crush aside, that's the most amazing Latin American hip-hop video I've ever seen! I posted it at the end of my previous post, go check it out). All these elements, plus a neutral title in English, make this one Bitman's album with the most crossover potential to date, and I'll applaud it if he does in fact crossover to the gringo hipster crowd (in a Pinker Tones/M.I.S. sort of way) because he totally deserve it, but the DJ in me will always be more satisfied discovering hidden samples in the classic Robar Es Natural.
Available on emusic, itunes, amazon, etc.