Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cumbia Nenas!

I'd like to dedicate this post to some of the females involved in the neo-cumbia movement. I've always been interested in the participation of women in underground music, I guess because they tend to be a rare minority in almost every scene, also because, well... I like women. In a scene like this, that's been spearheaded by DJ's and bedroom producers it's particularly obvious the lack of female talent, but the few that are out there have been very significant and need to be recognized.
The most important and well known are definitely the anarkumbia riot-grrrls of Kumbia Queers, pioneers of the scene in all their right. I wrote about their 2007 debut album in the first post of this blog (yeah the post where I also said, two years from now everybody will be talking about cumbia, and that was two years ago, bitches). I particularly love these girls for being so irreverent and disrespectful of all music genres, which I think is sort of the whole sense behind this music, that tounge-in-cheek sense of humor, the irony of appropriating cumbia culture and taking it out of context in funny ridiculous ways. This mostly just happens within neo-cumbia artists from two countries: Mexico and Argentina, because it is in those two countries where cumbia is charged with a lot of social preconceptions as "music for the undereducated lower classes". So the fact that Kumbia Queers are half Argentinean and half Mexican is, I think, the perfect formula for their instant success. I also happen to love girl bands, period, I did since I discovered The Go-Go's as a kid and had my first celebrity crush on Belinda Carlisle.
Anyway, I have some great gossip for all you Kumbia Queers fans, two of the biggest producers of cumbia's new school ever are gonna be working on the new Queers' album: Toy Selectah and Pablo Lescano, from Mexico and Argentina, respectively. I honestly can't wait to hear what comes out from that combo.

Before leaving Mexico, it's my duty to give some props too to Amandititita whom, so far, for some odd reason, I've never mentioned here. This petite mexichick claims to be an intelectual, in fact her bio says she's a writer, but this doesn't really show much in her lyrics which are ironic and funny but silly-funny, not smart-funny, although she does say "you are more evil than Bush" in one of her songs, which makes me laugh every single time. Her sense of humor reminds me a little too much of Mexican mock-rockers Molotov, which I personally hate, but musically she's closer to the electro-low-brow Mexican artists like Silverio and María Daniela y su Sonido Lasser. I don't really like her music too much, even if it's a lot of fun to listen to sometimes. I have never play any of her songs on my mixtapes or DJ sets, but I know plenty of Mexican DJ's in town who spin her hits quite a lot. She might be just a myspace diva but she's definitely a character I'd love to interview.

You must already be familiar with Alika thanks to her collaboration with El Hijo De La Cumbia in his amazing debut album Freestyle De Ritmos last year. This female rapper-turned-reggae-toaster has experimented with cumbia on her own too a few times.
I've known her personally since 1996. Back then she was one half of a group called Actitud María Marta who basically kick-started the second wave of Argentine hip-hop in the mid nineties. They were very well known for their politically charged lyrics and their participation in lots of left-wing acts, however, their metal-rap at that point wasn't too great.
Around 1999 they broke up and Alika (who up until then was just Alicia) decided to go solo and in Chile recruited the band La Nueva Alianza to back her up. Alika has just released a new video for this amazing cumbia-rap song of her last album. I have to say I enjoyed the video very much, especially for the references to Chacarita, my favorite soccer team (even though I've never been a soccer fan). Here, check it out:

As for the rest of Actitud Maria Marta, far from calling the quits after Alika's departure, they turned up way better, when they replaced her with two other girls named Karen, one singer one rapper, and they got rid of the metal-infused musicians replacing them with hip-hop tracks. They haven't been able to come out with one official release since then, but they have toured all over the place, way more than any other Argentinean hip-hop artist. Brazil, Cuba, Venezuela and all over Europe, trust me, these girls sure know how to put a show. Now I've been close friends with Malena, the only founding member left in the group and she's been the FIRST person in the whole hip-hop universe I ever heard talking about fusing cumbia. Way back in the mid nineties she already professed a serious love and respect for Colombian cumbia and she mentioned it many times, but back then I never payed her attention because, as I mentioned here many times, I used to be a hardcore hip-hop purist.
In 2008 they released an independent CD called Con Perfume Revolución which you can download here and it includes the cumbia-rap "Eres Re-Lindo," a free version of the popular cumbia "Eres muy bonita pero mentirosa" from a female point of view. However the instrumentation sounds more traditional acoustic cumbia than the neo-cumbia sound of Alika and Princesa.
Princesa gained notoriety thanks to the Chancha Via Circuito remix of her song included in ZZK Sound Vol.I and also by another of her songs remixed by the amazing Frikstailers, both are neo-cumbia musts. She's part of the third wave of Argentine hip-hop, the ones that came out after the year 2000. But her rap owes a lot to the female pioneers. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find out if she has ever done any cumbia on her own, only remixes by other people. Anyway, her Spanish dancehall isn't too bad.
My happiest find of 2009 was this other gorgeous Argentine woman who sings in Los Labios. Since I discovered them online, I haven't stopped playing "Bus Estación" at almost every gig. Unlike most of the other women named on this post who approach cumbia from either punk or hip-hop, Lulu does it from a gay-hipster-indie-pop perspective and the results are quite unique. Definitely a candidate for this end-of-the-year Best-Of's.

Now one of the most relevant things that happened to neo-cumbia in 2009 so far has been the release of Bomba Estéreo's second album Blow Up or Estalla, depending on the market. This colombian group has been around for a while mixing afro-colombian beats like cumbia and others with electro and hip-hop but their early work was more instrumental or had a male MC. The music was already great but the best thing that could have ever happened to them was adding a female voice (and beautiful face) to their songs. Liliana Saumet turned Bomba Estéreo into the first mainstream-crossover worthy act in the whole neo-cumbia, and "Fuego" the first neo-cumbia hit with radio and MTV appeal. I have already posted that video here once, but I love it so much that I'm gonna go ahead and do it again.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

DISSECTING MERSAHOLIC

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.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

DJ JUAN DATA IS MERSAHOLIC - (Free Mix)

Ladies and gentlemen, here it is! Getting this megamix out was more painful than giving birth, I worked on it for so long and had to endure so many technical difficulties that at some point I was about to go nuts and drop it. But finally it's done and available for all of you to enjoy!
After the huge success of Linyerismo Episode II (about 450 downloads to this date and that's without counting the re-hosting of it on other sites) I felt under a lot of pressure to come up with something even bigger and better but I didn't wanna repeat myself and do a Linyerismo III. However, this Mersaholic mix ended up being sort of like a Linyerismo III in the end and even shorter than my previous two mixes of '09.

The Title
Mersa is a slang word in Argentine vernacular Spanish that means something like tacky and ghetto fabulous. When poor people of low educational level try to dress to impress and wear shiny clothes and gold chains, we call it "mersa". So, Mersaholic would mean something like addicted to "la mersada", I guess. Actually, I just liked how it sounded.

The Concept
One of the reasons why this project was so difficult for me was that it was conceived backwards. I came up with the idea for the title and the cover art before I even started planning the play-list. It all happened one night when I was hanging out with a friend of mine, this Mexican MC from the group Reporte Ilegal, at his mind-blowing community artists loft. We had smoked some blunts and were listening to old records in his home-studio/pirate radio station and I started digging through his crates and found a vinyl copy of RZA's Bobby Digital album, which artwork I always loved because it obviously resembles blaxploitation movie posters. I was stoned and I kept looking and it and looking at it and I thought, how amazing would be to redo this art for a cumbia mix. In the stereo we were going back and forth between Mexican cumbia sonidera and Wu-Tang classics. Reminded me of the second half of the nineties when I was all into Wu-Tang and shit and that was how the idea for Mersaholic came out that night. The next morning I searched for Wu-Tang instrumentals and some cumbia sonidera and I started working on that mix without knowing where it would go from there. Instead of mashing up the Wu-Tang stuff over a cumbia beat, I decided to go back and forth bouncing from one deck to the other, trying to capture the magical spirit of the night before.
That's how Mersaholic started, as a cumbia tribute to the Staten Island sound and at the same time I started drawing the cover. But at that point I still didn't know if I was just producing one track, a collection of tracks or doing a whole half-hour long megamix. I didn't know what to put next, I had nothing planned, but eventually I decided to give it a go on and see where it takes me.
It turned up to be quite hard because I ran into too many dead ends where I wasn't able to easily get out and transition into the next song. Also because I was experimenting with new techniques and new hardware that I never used in my previous mixes...

The Technical Aspects
One thing that stands out on this mix, comparing to the Linyerismo episodes is the abundant use of turntablism (and wacky-ass baby scratch!). Linyerismo Episode I was entirely mixed inside my laptop and Episode II had a few scratch additions and arrangements here and there. In Mersaholic, almost all of the mixes you'll hear were recorded live using vinyl controllers and there's even some old "real" vinyl records too. I think that gives it a whole different vibe because it doesn't sound as much as a studio mix (even though it is) and it sounds messier and dirtier too.
The other big addition to this mix was that I bought a Korg KP3 Kaoss Pad and of course, as any kid with a new toy, I abused it a little too much adding effects and deforming almost all the breaks before blending them into this megamix.
Like I pointed out already Mersaholic is a studio mix and I'd never in a million years be able to reproduce it live (unless I had four turntables, eight arms and two brains). I'm not mixing any song in it's original format. They all went through some sort of transformations before they made it into the mix.
So the way it was done, was something like this: I'd grab some cumbia break beat I like, mix it with something else, process it through the Kaoss pad, add effects, turn it into something very different from the original and save it as a mini-mix. Then, after a while, I had a whole bunch of those 20 or 30 seconds minimixes and I'd mix them together in real time using turntables into the larger megamix. That's Mersaholic.
So, the whole process took me almost a month of work and at no point did I use any multi-track loop-sequencing software where you can go back and fix mistakes (no ableton, no protools, no acid...). It was all recorded in real time, so any screw-up would mean, go back and re-record from the beginning. That's why I almost went crazy and was tempted to throw my laptop through the window more than once.

The Playlist
I, personally, don't think that giving away the play-list of this sort of mixes beforehand is such a good idea. I'd prefer if people listen to it first without knowing the titles of the tracks and then go back and see where they came from. The reason for this is that this mix (as well as the Linyerismo episodes) it's full of conceptual irony and unpredictable inside jokes. Some of them, only a few of you (native Spanish speakers in particular) will be able to get them, but still, I find some delight in the idea that people might laugh their asses off when some of the tracks hit them as a surprise. If you know in advance what you're gonna hear because you read it on the play-list... then there's no surprise, no fun.
Another reason why giving away the play-list is not very appropriate in this case is that I barely use some of the tracks I named. True, there are some very recognizable tracks from the likes of Toy Selectah and Sonido del Príncipe that I play for more than 45 seconds, but then most of the rest is just small bits and pieces from different tracks, some of them I only used 5 seconds, some of them even less. I counted at least 57 different songs used in the construction of the 27 minutes plus of Mersaholic but it wouldn't be right so say I mixed 57 song when maybe I only played two notes from one track or one ten second vocal sample from another one.
What I can point out is that there are a lot of artists in common with my two previous megamixes from 2009 which I guess makes my stylistic preferences quite obvious. I mentioned Toy Selectah who, you as all know, is my very favorite and my sort of mentor. Bomba Estéreo, Mexican Institute of Sound, Fauna and Frikstailers they all have some appearances in all my latest three mixes too. And maybe less evidently Illya Kuryaki & The Valderramas and Anita Tijoux appear on the three as well.
Besides that, there was a lot of digging involved in this megamix and that's another departure from the Linyerismo series, where I mostly played current neo-cumbia stuff. On Mersaholic I decided to dig into old school traditional cumbia from Colombia, Peru, Mexico and Argentina and mix it in new, innovative ways. That was another obstacle that made my work harder because most of that acoustic cumbia doesn't follow a steady tempo so it's harder to blend.

The Art

Since Linyerismo Episode II cover was a tribute to Afrika Bambaataa's "Renegades of Funk", and lots of the success of that mix was based on the impact the art made, I decided to replicate the marketing strategy and do another hip-hop cover tribute/parody. It took me a while until the Bobby Digital idea materialized before my eyes during that summer blunted-out night. Before that I was thinking of doing a spoof of some EPMD cover or maybe even some NWA...
What I liked about the Bobby Digital art besides the 70's movie poster feel was the crazy amount of visual information it contained and that was a total challenge at the time of drawing it. Much like the actual mixtape, the cover was conceived as a collage of several different drawings I made, most of them based on different pictures I took.
Once again I was able to count with the invaluable help of my long time friend and partner in crime Gabriel Di Matteo who did an impressive work with the graphic design, as usual. Without his magic touch, my drawings look like amateur crap.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

REVOLUCION! - Original Cuban Funk Grooves 1967-1978 (Freestyle, 2009)

Lately I've been digging a bit into old school Latin funk, maybe inspired by Chico Sonido's mind blowing debut album. Funk was never too popular during it's own time in Latin America, sure there are plenty of exceptions, but mostly the good funk and soul tracks from the seventies remained quite obscure and most faded into oblivion.
We all know about Brazilian funk because it has been deeply researched by vinyl archeologist for a while now and there are a lot of great compilations that capture the bests of that era (I'm talking real funk and not baile funk or funk carioca here) like the Black Rio comps Volume 1 and 2. But very little is known abroad about funk music produced around the same time in other countries of Latin America.
Fortunately, these guys at Freestyle records are helping to fill that gap with the amazing compilation they recently released dedicated to Cuban funk. Now this is something that got my by surprise for sure. I'm a huge fan of Cuban hip-hop (and I'm not talking Orishas here) but I never knew about Cuban funk. I downloaded this album as soon as I saw it and I loved it. If you are into what Fania was putting out around those same years in New York, you're gonna love this too.
My only regret is that I didn't buy it in vinyl and I should've because I'm eager to read the liner notes and find out more about this music and the digital version doesn't include any of that information. I don't even know if there's a vinyl available but I assume so, because Freestyle puts out music mostly in that format, and I imagine if they release an album like this they must've at least included some sort of introductory text or some info on the artists. I hope somebody keeps digging through Latin funk and makes more comps like this one about other countries too.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

ALTA JOYA - Cumbianture Time! (Free Mix)

I'm gonna be honest here, I almost never listen to the mixes of other DJ's, I have no patience for that. Another reason why am I so thankful to the 400 plus people that downloaded (and hopefully listened to) Linyerismo Episode II. Nowadays there are too many of blogging DJ's posting neo-cumbia mixes online, because, c'mon, we all know with the current technology this is a pretty easy thing to do, right?
So why did I listened to this one in particular? One, because of the amazing cover artwork done by the same designer who did Zizek's latest comp (that's definitely a big plus, having some cool original art along with your mix, so you take notes if you want me to listen to you shit). Two, because Alta Joya (from Cooliado blog) is a cool on-line friend of mine and she might not have super mixing skills yet but she's hot and hella nice and most importantly, she's got beautiful nipples and she likes showing them (so there, lesson number two for up and coming DJ's, show your boobs!). Both gimmicks worked perfectly in convincing me to listen to her mix, so here it is for you to listen too, while we all wait for the publishing of my new megamaximix coming up in a few days and blowing all your fucking minds away.

Download Here