Showing posts with label kuduro. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kuduro. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Not Necessarily "The Best" Of 2010. The criteria used for this list was pretty simple: the songs released in 2010 (or that came to my knowledge in 2010) that I played the most on my DJ sets during 2010. 
Two main factors influenced this selection: my personal taste in music, of course, but also and more importantly the often-questionable taste of the dancers that attend the parties I play at (and as a mercenary DJ I play all sorts of events, from underground to mainstream, from big fancy clubs to house parties and weddings). 

1.- Yolanda Be Cool – “Afro Nuts”: This one came out in 2009 but I didn’t find out about it until New Years Eve. Early that day I was looking for a great new song to play that night, right after midnight, and I ran into this excellent joint. I played it right after people came back to the dance-floor, after the fireworks (the party was on a boat), and it was an instant hit. So, technically it was the first song I played in 2010, and in the future, whenever I look back to this year, this song will be the first one to pop up in my memory, for sure. It has a great beat, an even better funky break and then that sped-up reggaetón sample that makes it recognizable for the mainstream crowd, so it’s a total crowd pleaser that works with almost everybody, gringos, Latinos, house fans, top-40 radio listeners, etc. This song became like some sort of secret weapon in my play-list arsenal during 2010, especially because it never crossed over completely as a mainstream hit (unlike the totally over-played summer hit “We No Speak Americano” by the same artist), so I felt that I was the only DJ in town playing it. The remix by Zizek’s Douster was also included on my Chorisapiens megamix.   

2.- Juana Posse – “Cumbia Juana”: Nü-cumbia from Colombia gone Euro-dance-pop. I got turned into this hidden gem by a Colombian friend of mine early in 2010, and I spent a couple of days looking for the MP3 everywhere with no luck until I actually found the singer on Facebook, begged her for a bootleg and she was more than happy to share it with me. Not suited for the traditional cumbia dancers or the alternative nü-cumbia hipster crowd, but the mainstream cheesy crowd can instantly connect with this and they even get hooked and sing-along as if they knew it from the radio, even if they’ve never heard it before. It has some sort of magical effect like that—no matter how much you hate pop commercial music, this is so catchy that you can’t help it.

3.- Los Rakas – “Abrazame” (Uproot Andy Remix): I have to confess I was a little resistant to this one at first. I mean, the lyrics are a total corny cliché and the music is borrowed from a dancehall riddim. I didn’t give it a chance until I actually downloaded it, listened to it on my headphones once, and two days later I still had the song stuck in my head. It’s catchy as hell and radio-friendly enough to be played with guaranteed good reception at mainstream clubs, and the Uproot Andy twist makes it hipster-friendly too, so you can totally blend it into a nü-cumbia set at an underground party. Besides, they're from around the way, part of the video was shot a couple of blocks away from my old house and it has that random Carnaval intro with somebody singing Daniela Mercury's classic "Swing Da Cor" that's totally nonsense but it makes me laugh and reminisce of the early '90s when that was the hit (I bet you anything the rappers from Los Rakas didn't even know that song). 

4.- Frente Cumbiero – “Ananas Tornillo”: Hands down the best single of the year. Released on 7” vinyl by Names You Can Trust, I knew this was going to be an instant hit since the first time I played it, and I was right. It sounds like old-school organic roots cumbia of the Afrosound kind, but it’s all sample-based and DJ friendly, so it can please all cumbia listeners, from the hardcore Colombians, to the Mexican sonideros to the digital cumbia crowd. It doesn’t have lyrics or a catchy chorus so I wouldn’t dare playing it for the mainstream crowd and it doesn’t have any recognizable funky or hip-hop infusion to crossover to the gringo audience, but any true cumbia lover will instantly fall in love with this. My only criticism is that it doesn’t have any break-down where you can blend in another song half-way through, it goes way up there on the second bar and it doesn’t take a second to rest until the end, so you are kinda forced to play the whole thing and I’m known for doing fast mixes and almost never play a whole song in my sets—I guess this one deserves to be the one exception. I’ll forever cherish this record along my most precious pieces on my collection. 

5.- Don Omar Feat. Lucenzo – “Danza Kuduro”: Two years ago we were all going nuts for Angolan kuduro which we discovered thanks to M.I.A. and Buraka Som Sistema. Honestly, I never imagined that one day it was gonna cross-over to the top-40 radio market, but it did. Still, I very much doubt that Don Omar’s hit will spark the curiosity of more than 1% of his listeners to go out and try to find out what kuduro is. And anyway, besides the song’s name, it doesn’t even sound like real kuduro at all, so it’s not like all of a sudden cheesy mainstream DJs will start mixing kuduro in their sets. I used to hate Don Omar almost as much as I hate Daddy Yankee, but since this song came out, I have a little more respect for him. Maybe it’s because he lost weight and got rid of those ghetto-ass cornrows.

  La Curura by djsabo 
6.- Sabo & Cassady – “La Curura”:  SF-based Bersa Discos hit a homerun with their sixth release by New York’s DJ Sabo. Every track on that EP is a guaranteed dance-floor packer, but it’s “La Curura” the one I played the most throughout 2010. At just about 100 BPM it’s easy to mix with pretty much anything, hip-hop, reggaetón, dancehall, cumbia, etc. It’s great for live mash-ups and creative blends and it also works as a transition cut to move from the lower BPM cumbias towards the funkier upbeat stuff. It doesn’t have mainstream appeal like other tracks on this record (“La Negra Chula” and “Chillando Goma”) but it works great with the traditional cumbia crowd and the curious gringos.

7.- La Cumbia De Patricio Cobarde – “Cumbia Imperial”: Another of my secret weapons always in hand during my 2010 sets. It’s lo-fi recording by a Chilean punk-cumbia band, in the sense of Chico Trujillo (a style that’s a lot more popular in Chile than the digital DJ-oriented nü-cumbias from neighbor Argentina) covering with tongue-in-cheek sense of humor Star Wars “Imperial March,” priceless! It’s not necessarily a dance track, but it still makes it into this list because I never wasted a chance to throw it in, even if only as a joke, in between my cumbia sets. Everybody loves it, especially the curious gringos who recognize the tune right away and start going crazy on the dance-floor.

8.- DJ Negro – “Pa Pa Pa Panamericano”: Like everybody else, I was really pissed off when I found out Miami’s biggest douchebag had done a version of Yolanda Be Cool’s “We No Speak Americano” and ruined a great track, morphing it into the most annoyingly overplayed summer hit since “Calabria.” But as a consolation prize I got this cumbia remix of the original song by Argentina’s biggest nü-cumbia unsung hero, DJ Negro, who managed to successfully slow down the beat to 90 BPM making it into a sonidero guaracha of sorts that can appeal to all crowds, from the most mainstream Pitbull-listeners to the underground heads. Bersa Discos spent all year promising a new DJ Negro release. I’m still waiting.

9.- Shakira – “Waka Waka”: You can hate all you want, but I still give some props to Shakira. Yes, she’s a total sell-out who got co-opted by the American Mainstream and lost all Latino cred since she dyed blonde. But still, she’s hot (however, if she keeps on losing weight she’ll lose me as a supporting fan too), she’s cute, she’s sexy, and she can dance. Maybe she doesn’t write good songs with witty lyrics anymore, as she used to back in the 90’s, but she still has the capability of laughing at herself  and I respect her for that. She invited Calle 13’s Residente to rap on one of her latest album’s tracks and he totally disses her, telling her, to her face what we all Latinos have been saying since 2001: that she was better and hotter when she was a brunette and had more meat on her bones. Anyway, I don’t care at all about soccer and the world-cup so I wouldn’t normally include a song of this kind on my sets but I love African music and this one, even though it’s an absolute rip-off, provided me with a rare opportunity for playing something a lil’ more Afro at the mainstream Latino parties and weddings, so I thank Shakira for it.

10.- Sacassaia – “El Culebrón”: I play lots of Brazilian music on my DJ sets but they almost never make it into these end-of-the year lists because I tend to find out about them a bit too late. Brazilian dance-floor hits get to me with delay of a year or more, like “Rap Das Armas” that I played at almost every event in 2010, but it’s from (at least) early ‘09. “El Culebrón” is an odd gem because it’s not traditionally Brazilian, it’s a cumbia, and it’s sing in Spanish, or more accurately portuñol. Sacassaia was one of my propitious discoveries of the year and that song in particular made it to my Barbarie megamix, and since then I’ve been playing it in many of my sets, although never for the mainstream crowd, and not even on my monthly Brazilian nights (where I play more batucada, axé and baile funk). But the cumbia crowd was very receptive to this one. I love the lyrics' ironic sense of humor and the fact that a Brazilian song reminds me of Argentina’s Fauna just makes me happy.

(BONUS TRACK) 11.- Juan Magan – “Verano Azul”: When I first heard this on the radio I was like, “damn, just what we needed, another wannabe Pitbull doing Spanglish crap-rap summer hits.” But there was something I couldn’t quite point my finger at, that attracted me to this song and made it get stuck in my head for days. It wasn’t until I found out that Magan was from Spain and the song was called “Verano Azul” that it clicked: the beat was based on the theme song of a Spanish TV show every kid from my generation used to watch back in the early 80’s. Now the song is still hella wack, from a hip-hopper p.o.v. and I’ve only played it once in my set (so far), by request (that’s why it’s offered as a bonus track), but just the idea of sampling that obscure show (obscure for 90% of the listeners of this type of music, who were not born when the show aired) is pure genius.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Best of 2009-Part 3: Top 11 Live Shows

Of course this list is limited to the shows I've been to, which unfortunately, for lack of budget, haven't been as many as I would've liked to. Also because, as you probably already read me complain, there are not that many Latin (but cool) music shows in the Bay Area to go to.

1) Bajofondo @ Bimbos: For the second continuous time, Bajofondo takes the best live show of the year! And honestly, sometimes I seriously think that they are so far ahead of everybody else that they should like retire or something for a couple of years, to let the others catch up. Nobody, and I mean, NOBODY in any kind of music from any other country in the Spanish-speaking half of the world, can put such an impressive show. They have it all, their amazing virtuoso skills, their experienced musician professionalism, the sophistication to please the snobs, the catchy melodies to please the rest, the electronic dance beats to make even your grandmother in a wheelchair dance and the rock attitude and incomparable energy that differentiate them from any other electronic-whatever fusion bands. If they come to your town, do not under any circumstance miss the opportunity to see them.
PS: I should also include in the top-11 the semi-private after show where Bajofondo, myself and a bunch of friends ended up cumbia jamming, but I'll skip because it's not fair to the rest to have them twice on the top-11.

2) Mexican Institute of Sound @ Red Devil Lounge: Yes, what you see in this picture actually happened! M.I.S.'s Camilo Lara falling down with his keyboard while DJ Juan Data in full costume plays the güiro and reveals his underwear... oh man, what a crazy night! Thank god I gave my camera to a friend because I was so fucking drunk that I barely remember some of that shit. All I know was that at some point I was almost naked on stage and the security brought me down and then I somehow woke up with a really bad hangover in my bed. Priceless.

3) Buraka Som Sistema @ Rickshaw Stop: You know how I was getting naked at the end of the M.I.S. show? Well, I so wished I could've done the same at this one! I was right in front of the stage and I spent almost the whole concert jumping like a crazy ecstasy kid covered in sweat and with a huge hard-on under my pants. Yup. And I wasn't drunk or on drugs. I was just extremely turned on by the music and that impossibly hotter woman they incorporated as a singer. I said it before and I say it again, Buraka Som Sistema is the coolest thing to ever come out from Portugal since... Brazil.

4) Bomba Estéreo @ La Peña: Talk about cool bands that became even cooler by adding a super hot girl to their line-up. These Colombians are the closest thing to a mainstream-crossover that came out of this whole neo-cumbia international movement and they so deserve to be where they're at. Li Saumet is an unbelievable performer, she can rap, and sing, and moan, and scream, and dance and do it with so much energy, and be so pretty at the same time... I know everybody, male and female, at some point during the show that night at La Peña tried to picture themselves having sex with her.

5) Boom Boom Kid @ SubMission: I might be all about cumbia and hip-hop, but when it comes to live shows, nothing compares to the raw energy of punk rock. And when it comes to punk rock, nobody gives such a show as this bilingual Argentine miniature Tazmanian devil called Boom Boom Kid. Every year he comes touring to the States during the otherwise depressing days between Halloween and Thanksgiving and his visit, with the promise of a great show that will make me feel 18 years old all over again, is the only reason I have to look forward to this season at the end of the summer.

6) Limp Wrist @ SubMission: Uruguayan hardcore living legend Martín Sorrondeguy was the singer of Los Crudos, the biggest Spanish-speaking band of the genre to come out of the US. Then he came out of the closet and formed Limp Wrist in San Francisco singing mainly in English. Now he's saying Limp Wrist have broken up and he has some new band that recently released a 7''... I don't remember their name. All I remember is that I saw them for the first time at their last show in SubMission and it was really good and it made me wish I went to see them live all the other times before that, but when a band is from your own town, you take them for granted and you say, oh well, there will be other chances to see them, next time...

7) Eric Bobo & Rhettmatic @ Element Lounge: Nacional Records artist Eric Bobo is not very well known amongst the Latin Alternative and that's a shame. The Cypress Hill and Beastie Boys percussionist is also the son of legendary Latin Funk percussionist Willie Bobo and in 2009 he released his first solo album that includes collaborations with big names like Toy Selectah and DJ Rhettmatic from the World Famous Beatjunkies DJ crew. On 4/20 after a Cypress Hill stoner show he and Rhettmatic gave an amazing show at Element Lounge where DJ and percussionist would battle in back-to-back routines, something I've never seen before and I wish I could see more often at hip-hop shows.

8) Sargento García & Curumin @ Sterngrove: What a great summer day! Riding bikes all accross the city with a group of good friends. Having a pick-nick at the park. Running into millions of friends. Meeting with a hot girl whom I ended up dating. Listening to modern Brazilian music and cumbias. If it wasn't for the foggy weather and the annoying Sterngrove Park security it would've been perfect.

9) Mextape, Reporte Ilegal, Nes and many others @ Dermafilia: I was involved in the Argentine underground hip-hop scene when it started emerging in 1996 and I'm very fond of those memories even though at that point most of the artists in the scene sucked, big time. In the past seven years I've been getting progressively further away from my underground hip-hop roots, while becoming more and more cynical about it and finding my new interest in cumbia music. Then my friend from Reporte Ilegal invited me to be guest DJ at a couple of his shows and all of a sudden I got sucked in an emerging underground hip-hop scene of Spanish-speaking immigrants coming out of the Bay Area very similar to the one I escaped from. I guess it was the familiarity between this scene and my nostalgic memories of '96 what got my interest first, but then I realized that I wasn't as far away as I thought from these guys, they all had something in common: they all wanna rhyme over cumbia beats, many of them are trying, none of them have recorded anything decent yet. So that night at Dermafilia after they all did their rap sets, I got on the turntables and I started spinning some neo-cumbia instrumental tracks and they all went nuts freestyling over those beats. Most of them are still in a beginners stage, but I can tell there will be some dope artists coming out from this new scene and I'm proud to be part of it.

10) Babasónicos @ The Independent: For the third time in my life I DJ'd as opening act for Babasónicos and this was the first time my name was in the flyer, yay! That was a huge deal for me because I was their biggest fan back in '94/'95, during their weirdo ultra-kitsch experimental period. Now they are massive in Latin America but here in the US they come and nobody really knows them, so they play in smaller venues for much smaller audiences and they get wacky beginners like myself as opening acts, something that would never ever in a million years happen back home. Anyway, I was so happy after my set that I didn't pay any attention to their show, and that's why they didn't leave a big impression in me this time around and they only made it to the tenth position.

11) Kinky @ Outside Lands: I've seen Kinky live more than any other band in this decade, and not because they force me to (like it usually happens with Los Amigos Invisibles) but because I used to really like them, live. From 2002 to 2006 they always came up first in my Top-11 live shows of the year (in my previous, now defunct, Spanish-written blog). The last few albums... I didn't feel them that much, in fact, you know what? I didn't really like any album after their first one because they became too pop-song-oriented, while their debut was more tracks-for-DJs-based and that's why I fell in love with them in the first place (and at that point in my life it was a big deal to fall in love like that with a Mexican band because for years I said that all Mexican music was wack). Anyway, regardless of their formulaic latest outputs, they always managed to provide an amazing live show, the type of show that when you are watching you are actually wishing you were part of the band because they seem to have so much fun on stage! Well, the last couple of times I've seen them, they appeared to be playing in automatic pilot, not so fun anymore after these many years, but still, compared to the lame-ass Latin acts they competed with at Outside Lands (Nortec was so weak!), they managed to be one of the highlights of the festival and made it -barely- to the Top-11.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Buraka Som Sistema- Life at 145BPM

After a crazy weekend packed with amazing shows (Zizek, M.I.S., Bajofondo, Cypress...) my expectations were low for Buraka even though I've already seen them live last year and they rocked. I just thought nothing else could surprise me after that unexpected Bajofondo surprise.
I was so wrong.
Buraka Som Sistema's show was like going to an aerobics class at a sauna during Burning Man. It just happened to be the hottest day of the year, so far, over here and somehow BSS managed to make it even hotter. Not only with their super-up-tempo beats that never go below 130 BPM but also by improving notoriously their stage performance by adding a live drummer an a singer/dancer girl names Blaya who's simply TOO HOT TO BE HUMAN.
W-O-W! I saw BSS last year for their Tormenta Tropical performance and they blew my mind but this was way way way better. I was right next to the stage and it felt like being at a rave and a grindcore metal concert at the same time. It was a non-stop moshpit of dancers in fluo clothes sweating their asses off and every time Blaya would come on stage, things would dial up to surreal levels of wildness.
Kuduro is definitely the new favela funk. Buraka Som Sistema is the best thing to ever come out of Portugal since... Brazil!