Showing posts with label latintronica. Show all posts
Showing posts with label latintronica. Show all posts

Sunday, December 22, 2013

BEST OF 2013 - Top 11 Latin But Cool Songs

I've struggled to put together this Best Of list like I have never struggled in previous years. There are multiple reasons behind this. One of them, maybe the most important, is that I didn't feel very in touch with the Latin music scene in 2013, that's why I haven't been so active on this semi-agonizing blog. There were some cool things happening this year, for sure,  but almost nothing that compelled me to write on my blog and share, most of the times I felt that I was coming here out of inertia and an obligation to the few readers that still give a shit about my opinions. I was also a lot less active as a DJ in 2013. I didn't have time to put together any mix-tape in the whole year, and that's a first since I started this blog in 2008. I also didn't get to spin music a many Latin parties, so I didn't feel the pressure to keep up with the newest hits in the Latin dance-floors. I've played mostly for mixed crowds, focusing more on funk and hip-hop than Latin music. In fact, a lot of Latin records I bought this years, I did it mostly out of collector's habit, because I didn't get to play them much on my sets. As a result of all this, this year's best of list, unlike its predecessors,  was NOT determined exclusively by my DJ sets, but other factors too, and as usual I don't give a fuck if you agree with my selections or not.  


1.- "Lluvia con sol" - Orquesta El Macabeo: Are you fucking serious? A salsa song is the best song of the year chosen by an outspoken salsa hater? How is that even possible? Well, it's either that it was an extremely lame year and no other music managed to excite me as much as this, or I've experienced an inexplicable change of heart regarding the music genre that defines me by opposition. When I came up with Latin But Cool, it was meant as Everything Latin But... and the list of cheesy genres that followed was always preceded by salsa. I guess I've learned salsa can be cool too. This song at least, gives me goosebumps every time I listen to it and works great on the dance-floors as well.


2.- "Conmemoración" - Hache ST. feat. Bocafloja: Readers of this blog (and all lovers of good international hip-hop) should already be familiar with Argentine producer Gas-Lab, he's definitely one of the bests in the game when it comes to true-school, classic, soulful beats. Here we have doing his thing along with two of the best Spanish-language MCs of the continent, Dominican Republic's Hache ST and Mexico's Bocafloja, the Spanish-speaking Common and Talib Kweli respectively, if you may. The girl with way too much make up singing the chorus in San Francisco's Dolores Park is the same one from Los Rakas' biggest hit. The whole album by Hace ST is actually really good, but this song, and its video, are the best representation of what I would like Spanish hip-hop to be more.



3.- "Chalupa" - Jungle Fire: Jungle Fire is the best new band out there, period. So far they only have a couple of 7'' singles out and a few more digital releases, no debut album. It was hard to pick just one song because, to be honest, I've played them all equally in my vinyl sets during 2013, but I had to chose one and it was "Chalupa."


4.- "Codigo de barra" - Bajofondo: Presente is definitely a superb album, but it doesn't have any singles that easily stand out, it's more of a concept album, meant to be listened to as a whole. However, this track here blew my mind the first time I heard them play it live and then on the CD (why not vinyl?). For days after I've got the CD I blasted it out as loud as my speakers (and my compassion for my neighbors) allowed.


5.- "Entre rejas" - Quantic & Ana Tijoux: This one was chosen as a B-side for the Lauryn Hill cover but I ended up playing it a lot more. "That Thing" is alright, but the chorus in portuguese doesn't do it for me, the classic cumbia cover on the flip side is way better and has more dance-floor appeal. I remember many years ago trying to persuade Ana Tijoux to do some cumbias and she was like "hell no" but Quantic worked his magic and invited her to do a guest appearance Ondatrópica last year and now he got her hooked up. I really hope he manages to convince her to do a whole album together.


6.- "Same old clown" - Chico Mann feat. Kendra Morris: There're definitely plenty more songs in Chico Mann's latest album that would more accurately fit in the Latin But Cool category imposed by the URL of this blog. I know, this one is not Latin enough, but it's the one I've played the most in my DJ sets throughout 2013 so it's the first that comes to my head.


7.- "Cumbia Milagrosa" - La Misa Negra: The whole album by La Misa Negra is pretty dope, and I hate to put the spotlight on the one song there that's a cover, instead of their original compositions, but I gotta be honest, and just like in Chico Mann's case, this is the one I've played the most in my sets during this year, so it's the one that made it into the top10.


8.- "Kool" - Nico Cota: I really want Nico Cota to break into the international funk arena. He really deserves to be known outside of the minuscule funk scene of Buenos Aires, and outside of the Illya Kuryaki & The Valderramas entourage. This sophomore album of his really proves that he can totally stand on himself and if it was released on vinyl I've played it a lot in my sets during 2013.


9.- "Todo sobre mi desmadre" - Cookin' Bananas: Fucking genius, man! This is the best team of hip-hop beat-makers from Spain (Cookin' Soul, who else?) with Spanish rap pioneer, Mucho Muchacho (of 7 Notas 7 Colores fame) doing a whole album together, and it's all killer, no filler. This track in particular stands out because of the lyrics, with all the clever references to Almodóvar movie titles. One that I can play to my hip-hop-deficient friends and they can still appreciate it.

10.- "Reza por mi" - Atropolis feat. Lido Pimienta: I didn't care much for the rest of the album, but this one song, I became addicted to it at first listen. I couldn't just stop singing it inside my head.


11.- "Para Papá" - Diana Gameros: In previous years, a song likes this one wouldn't have made it into my Best Of lists, simply because I was exclusively focused on music to make people dance at the parties. But Diana's voice is gorgeous and she's an accomplished composer as well. She played this song live on my podcast and I instantly fell in love with her. She's kinda like a cult artist here in the Bay Area but one that I can clearly see with international projection in the short-term future. I wouldn't be surprised if she gets a Latin Grammy nomination in 2014.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

PALENKE SOULTRIBE-Mar (Independent, 2013)

When Palenke Soultribe presented Oro, the first third of their Afro-Colombian conceptual trilogy, they announced it as the pop-song-oriented one. It was shinny like gold, get it?  It's sequel Mar was supposed to be all about chill out, laid-back atmospheric music and the last chapter Fuego, would complete the colors of the Colombian flag with by igniting the dance floor.
Somewhere along the way, it seems that the LA-based Colombian duo lost interest in keeping with that rigid formula. I think they just cracked the code of what was the successful formula for their tracks and decided to keep exploring it and perfecting it. It took them some time to accomplish this, but four years after Oro, Mar is finally here and there's nothing quiet about this sea. The pop song format of its predecessor remains in center, with plenty of guests doing the vocals, but the emphasis is on the beats that are irresistible. Now I get the feeling that they find themselves in that tricky place where they're not just a couple of producers doing DJ-oriented tracks like in their beginnings but they're becoming an actual band, with a signature style.
There's a lot of variety to please all sorts of crowds from the more mainstream clubbers to the ñu-cumbia hipsters (if they still exist). My favorites and the ones that have more chances of getting on my DJ-set rotation are "La Gozadera," "Blanco & Negro" and "El Cometa" but there's plenty more to dig in so I strongly recommend you get the whole album.

Buy it here.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

DAPUNTOBEAT-I/O (Creme Deluxe Records, 2013)

First I look at the presentation and I'm all like wow! I can't simply wrap my head around the idea of a Mexican indie band releasing their music  in this format: clear vinyl LP with a plastic clear sleeve. I mean, these guys must be huge (or be spoiled the sons of rich parents) to get their music pressed in this prestigious and extra-expensive format. 
My next obvious thought is: why isn't anybody, this side of the border, talking about them? 
And the answer is a bit depressing. It's not that their music isn't good enough, it's that their music isn't Latin enough, so it doesn't quite fit the strict rules of the segmented US music market.
This record has ten million more chances of being picked up to be played on my DJ sets than anything Nortec has ever released. Still, the media, the labels, the critics and the public in the US love Nortec mainly because of their use of chuntie norteño samples over their clunky techno. Dapuntobeat just makes some dope straight-up funky electronic dance beats (somewhere between Daft Punk and LCD Soundsystem) and if it wasn't for their Spanish lyrics (which are present on just a few tracks) you wouldn't be able to tell they're from Latin America. So, in essence, they don't have the exotic south-of-the-border flavor that modern Latin needs in order to be marketed to the US-based crowds. Fucking sad. 
But at the same time I'm happy they're sticking to their guns. If they'd start playing congas over every beat and wearing ironic sombreros or pointy boots they'd probably get signed by a US-based label like Nacional and then their music wouldn't be pressed on vinyl like this any more. 

Buy it on iTunes (vinyl currently available exclusively in Mexico)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

FRIKSTAILERS-En Son De Paz (ZZK Record, 2013)

This one is kind of a mystery to me. Mainly because I'm a huge fan of these guys, I've been playing their music in my mixes consistently since 2008 and I can't wrap my head around the idea that it took them this long to put together a debut album. I mean, how is that even possible? 
Frikstailers are the most genius visionaries in the whole ZZK collective, they definitely put the best live show of all the label's artists and they have an original marketable image. Plus they crossed over world-wide with that remix they did for Major Laser and its mind blowing video, the best video ever done by any ZZK artist, I might add.
Still, while many of those other lesser-known label-mates got preferential treatment and even deluxe vinyl pressings of their music, Frikstailers were only featured in compilations, remixing other people or releasing their music as free MP3s. If it was up to me I would've forced the Córdoba-based duo into the studio and I would've have locked them up in there until they came out with a finished full length album... four years ago!
Still, better late than never, right? 
Frikstailers are still ahead of their time and making music that's unqualifiable and out of this world, so I guess, you could argue that it's never too late to release it. Maybe that's the whole reason why they got their debut postponed for so long, it was too futuristic. I don't know. 
If you've been following the ZZK releases closely, there're a couple of tracks on this one that you might already have, but the rest is all dope shit that you must acquire no matter what (I only dislike one song, the one featuring Boogat, and I don't understand the insistance of ZZK producers to have him as a guest MC, having so many much better rappers in their own country). 
Unfortunately at the moment there's no confirmation regarding possible vinyl pressing or I'd be a million times more excited when writing this. Still, I'm pretty stocked to finally see their debut out after expecting it for almost five years. 

Buy it here.

Friday, September 28, 2012

BOMBA ESTEREO-Elegancia Tropical (Polen Records, 2012)

I had just finished a yummy kale juice and I was feeling all blissful and energized and connected to nature and that's when I decided to play this album on my headphones while I walked down the streets on a beautiful sunny afternoon. It suddenly all made sense.
I tried listening to it twice before and I couldn't get into the album's primal driving mood. I don't know, maybe I was expecting something a bit more edgy and gritty and it all sounded too shinny and optimistic to me. Those who had originally pictured Li Saumet as the Latin American answer to M.I.A. (myself included) would be disappointed by this. But how dare we project our expectations on her like that? She never subscribed to those third world jungle guerrillera aesthetics. Li is coming out straight out of a tropical jungle but the jungle of Pandora where giant ferns light up when she walks by.
That's what Elegancia Tropical feels like to me. It depicts a jungle landscape but it's not dark, scary, full of dangerous creepy creatures. It's a fantasy jungle with colorful disco lights and everybody is nice to each other, in a perfect utopian balance, as long as you're connected to the pachamama with your magic tail--or with an infusion of ayahuasca or other organic trip-inducing substances. For old cynical, empirical, Juan Data it's hard to connect to this type of mood on the usual, but a kale shake worked its magic and all of a sudden I was transported to Bomba Estéreo's realm.
I don't know if this is the type of album that I'd play as a center piece on my DJ sets, but I really enjoyed the listening experience, particularly the carefully layered synths that Simón Mejía provides. I'm not saying it's all new age vegan trippy shit, there're certainly a couple of heavy-hitting dance-floor oriented tracks and some sexually charged lyrics, but as a whole it definitely works best on the head-phones (and live, of course). Over all I feel like the album was conceived by people that were simply too happy for successfully making globally appraised music and not agressive enough in caring if you dance to it or not.

To be released November 6th.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

DJ AFRO-Free (Nacional Records, 2011)

Remember when I reviewed Los Amigos Invisibles' Commercial and I said that I had a love/hate relationship with them because I loved their funky witty DJ-oriented side but I hated their horny-frat-boy pop-songs?
Well, apparently my prayers were heard by someone and Los Amigos Invisibles' front guitar and main composer, DJ Afro, is releasing a solo album with all the stuff I like about them (which invariably comes from him) and none of the cheesy sing-along post-pubescent party-anthems that make everybody dance and bring all the hot girls to their concerts but somehow annoys me.
A few years ago Afro released a collection of house remixes (Will Work For Fun) that includes many great tracks that are still mandatory on my Latin house sets and will probably remain there for a long time. My only issue with that album was that all the tracks where almost exactly 126 BPM, which I guess is great if you wanna play the whole album back-to-back as a mixtape, but if you wanna mix it in with other stuff, it'd help to have a little more variety of tempos.
That problem is solved in Free, the new release by DJ Afro, coming out in digital format today, but on CD in a couple of months (no announcements about possible vinyl, but it'd be great too). Unlike Will Work For Fun that was mainly remixes and versions and collaboration with other artists, Free is mostly all new original stuff. There's plenty of loungy Latin house, of course, but there's also other genres, including... CUMBIA! Yes, DJ Afro joined the bandwagon of the ñu-cumbia revolution and I applaud it and welcome it.
It's great because, coming from him, I would've expected a more housey approach to cumbia, but instead he went down to cumbia's traditional tempo and mixed up influences and clichés from Mexico's sonidera and Argentina's villera resulting in something refreshingly new in the hands of a Venezuelan.
Los Amigos Invisibles, as far as I know, experimented with pretty much every Latin music genre that was available out there except for cumbia (cumbia was not particularly popular in Venezuela during the past three decades [it was for a little bit before that, but then it faded away] where merengue and salsa romántica ruled the mainstream airwaves at the same time cumbia was spreading out throughout the rest of the continent). So hearing a cumbia from one of Amigos's members really made my day today.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

BEST 11 LIVE SHOWS OF 2010

Obviously this selection is extremely restricted due to the fact that 1) I can only review shows that I attended, 2) since I haven't traveled much lately, most of the shows that I attended were around the Bay Area and 3) since I pretty much don't have any disposable income to be able to afford show tickets, I mostly just went to shows where I got free access because I was listed as opening act. Fortunately there were quite many of those.


1.- ANA TIJOUX @ La Peña, Berkeley, CA: Maybe it wasn't the best show of the year (she wasn't satisfied with the limited sound capabilities of the venue), but at least for me it was the most significant. I had been dreaming about this particular show for almost a decade. I remember chatting with Ana, back then, plotting her US invasion, and I remember telling her, "you should come and play at La Peña, they're gonna love you there." It just seemed appropriate. La Peña started over 30 years ago as a cultural center of sorts for the Chilean political exiles living in the Bay Area, and Ana was a Chilean born during her parents' exile in France. When I was first contacted by the tour manager asking me for venues where I would have her perform in the Bay, La Peña was obviously the first one that came to mind. Being able to open for her, an artists that I truly admire and a beautiful human being that I'm lucky to count among my close friends, was a dream come true, even if I played for less than 20 minutes and nobody was actually paying attention to my set. Plus, the impromptu jam with Funky C (from Los Tetas, the Chilean funk group with whom Anita debuted as a recording artist doing her first guest appearance) was really dope.

2.- BOOM BOOM KID @ Gilman, Berkeley, CA: Every year, right after Halloween, I suffer a regression to my hardcore punk age and go see Boom Boom Kid. The  ultimate Argentine punk rocker comes every year and usually forms a temporary band with local musicians and goes on tour for a month or so. This time however, there was no band and no tour. He only came to take care of some business (new release coming up soon, in vinyl!) and, since he was in town, he did a surprise acoustic show, with just his guitar and a notebook full of handwritten lyrics. Only about 15 people showed up, nothing compared to previous years and considering his loyal following, but it was perfect just like that. There  was no moshpit, no stage-diving, none of his usual crowd surfing acrobatics, just him and his songs, and it felt really intimate, especially after he invited all the guests to come up on stage with him. The best part, however, was not the show itself, but the nighttime bicycle trip to and back from the venue with my friend Pablo, riding by the Bay's shore on the last beautiful warm night of the year. Great memories.


3.- BOMBA  ESTEREO @ Sterngrove, San Francisco, CA: In 2009 Bomba Estéreo had their Bay Area debut at La Peña in Berkeley and I was pissed off that they were not able to find a promoter who'd have them play in San Francisco for a larger audience. It finally happened this past summer when the Colombian neo-cumbia outfit got to perform at a massive free concert at the park and the mainstream Latino crowd that never goes to small venues and underground shows got to experience them live.


4.- CHICO TRUJILLO @ La Peña, Berkeley, CA: Another Chilean playing at La Peña. Chico Trujillo gave the best cumbia show of the year, hands down. With the energy, attitude and urgency of a punk rock performance they lay the bridge between the mestizo rock of Mano Negra and the party band craziness and kitsch of Los Auténticos Decadentes. For a while, they almost make you forget that they're actually doing mostly covers of old cumbias and boleros from like four decades ago. I got to DJ as an opening act on this one too, but the most fun I had it when jumping in the moshpit while sweating my ass off to the rhythm of "La Escoba."

5.- CELSO PIÑA @ Mezzanine, San Francisco, CA: The unquestionable king of Mexican cumbia and the good father of the neo-cumbia movement. In 2001 he changed cumbia once and for all with that milestone collaboration with Toy Selectah and his Sonidero Nacional, introducing for the first time cumbia as a cool new thing for the alterlatino audience of the post-MTV era. In 2010 I was finally able to see him live and I also had the honor of opening for him, alongside fellow DJ friends Santero and EKG. We've got ripped off by the promoters and never got payed, but it was ok because we've got to meet "el jinete del acordeón" after the show and he was mad cool.  

6.- FRIKSTAILERS @ Red Devil Lounge, San Francisco, CA:  I've been wanting to open for a Zizek show since they first came and I finally got my chance in 2010 when Frikstailers and El-G came back to the Bay. Unfortunately only half of the Frikstailers duo made it but he still gave a mind-blowing performance with all that Bambaatesque paraphernalia and futuristic gimmicks. Unfortunately too, very few people turned up (it was a Monday night) so I pretty much played a whole set for the bartender and the sound guy. 


7.- CHICANO BATMAN @ The Layover, Oakland, CA: Memorable Bay Area debut for the LA oldies band signed to Unicornio Records. They came for the release of their great album and they amazed everybody in the house that night with some trippy psychedelic shit, some cumbias and those shirts that made it all seem like if we had collectively been transported to our parent's prom night.


8.- R.A.P. SQUAD & STRONGHOLD SOUND @ The Layover, Oakland, CA: So I invited Nes to perform our song, "Cumbia Nena" at the Stronghold Sound record release party and without letting me know in advance, he showed up at the venue with his whole crew, R.A.P. Squad. For a second I honestly thought the night was gonna go to hell because their thugged-out aesthetics were going to scare the shit outta the dominant white-hispter crowd of the bar. But then they got on the mic and it was amazing! With the help of Dub Snakkr on the turntables they became most talked-about performers of the night. People were asking me, "where did you find them? They're like the Mexican Wu-Tang Clan!"  

9.- ELY GUERRA @ The Independent, San Francisco, CA: Back in 2001 I saw this girl live in Los Angeles for the first time and I instantly fell in love with her and her music. Her album Lotofire has been in my Top-10 favorite Spanish-language albums ever since. In 2010 and I was invited to open for her and it was great. I'm not much into her music style nowadays, but she's still an incredible performer and she's definitely more talented than the other contemporary Mexi-rock-diva, Julieta Venegas, who unfairly gets all the media hoopla because she makes silly songs for teenagers. 

 10.- LOS AUTENTICOS DECADENTES @ Illusions, Palo Alto, CA: I love Los Decadentes. I've said it many times, they are the best party band in Latin America. I've seen them live innumerable times since 1991 and they never disappoint me. One of their main advantage, comparing them to other super-energetic party bands, is that they have 12 members and they rotate a lot. At least four of them become lead singer at a certain point and the other ones can rest for a while or take over some instrument, so the band never loses any momentum and they can keep up their crazy exuberant on-stage chaos for like three hours, non stop. The only reason why this is not higher in the top-11 is that the shady promoters who hired me as an opening act ruined the night for me with their mobster antics.  

11.- ENRIQUE BUNBURY @ The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA: I never gave a rat's ass about this Spanish clown and I find the fetishistic fascination that Mexican orthodox rockers have for him to be completely absurd. But man, was it fun to go that that concert! Even if it's just to make fun of the abundant Mexifan impersonators and all those black-leather-jacket alpha-machos who go to worship this homoerotic show by an ambiguous male diva who aims to be the Spanish Jim Morrison but ends up being more like Raphael. Cynicism aside, his whole performance was clockwork perfect.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

MEXICAN INSTITUTE OF SOUND-Suave Patria (Nacional Records, 2010)

I'm the one who's been busting Nacional's balls since forever demanding that they print more vinyl, so I feel compelled to show them some extra love for releasing this beauty. A six-track vinyl EP by Mexico City's king of the bizarre sonic collages.
To be fair, I gotta mention that Nacional also recently released vinyl of Nortec's latest opus, so things are starting to look promising. Still no vinyl of Ana Tijoux (which I openly begged for and now it'd make more sense than ever since she's nominated for a Grammy and got picked as best Latin album of the year by Amazon) or other artists that would greatly benefit from this format like The Pinker Tones, Latin Bitman, Quiero Club and Bomba Estereo.
But I understand, I know how expensive is to release music in this format and there's very little profit to be made, especially in the Latin music department where unfortunately vinyl wasn't able to keep a highly revered fetish status that has in other genres (hip-hop, house, reggae, indy-punk). But I've been saying it for a while now, vinyl is coming back big and true Latin music lovers are turning more and more towards this format. And this could benefit labels too, since Latinos across the globe never really caught on the whole idea of paying for MP3s...
So yeah, there's a new Mexican Institute of Sound. After the successful Soy Sauce, Camilo Lara steps away from the mic and leaves aside his wacky rapping to focus in what he does the best: producing cut-n-paste dope beats. This is obviously, a lot more DJ-orinted and less pop-friendly and it's exactly what I was missing in Soy Sauce (that and his dub escapades from his early work that I'm still missing). It has some elements of cumbia (cumbia de sal!!!), mambo, danzon, mexican traditional, whatever old-timey Latin stuff he can get his hands on and I can't wait to spin this tonight.
PS: The EP is also available digitally through all the usual channels, but do yourself a favor and pick up this vinyl here.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

TOP-11 DANCE SONGS OF 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.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Latino Resiste Vol. 1 (Free Download)

My colleague Caballo, a Colombian living in Canada, better known as one of the recurrent contributors to the Generation Bass blog, just sent me this one. He actually put together this amazing compilation of knew rebellious Latin music from across the continent and beyond, mixing all music styles but with a clear aesthetic unity pointing in the thirdworldist mestizo direction.
First I was shocked by the captivating artwork, done by the Colombian graphic artists Afromestiza of whom I've been a big fan for a long time (and I bluntly stole some ideas from them in a few of my own design works), these are the guys who did Sergent García's Cumbia Muffin EP's art, so you know we're talking some pro-looking shit here. That, from the get go, sets this comp apart from most of the other free-download-blogger comps out there.
While I was downloading it, I crossed my fingers, hoping the music and the sound quality would match the expectations set by the art and let me tell you, I was not disappointed at all. At least half of the tracks went directly to my selective DJ set play-list after listening the first 20 seconds of each and maybe some of the rest will make it there after further examination. I barely got this minutes ago so I can't pass full judgment yet, but I guess, since it's free and you have nothing to lose, you might as well go ahead and download it too and experience it by yourself without being misguided by my totally biased opinions.


DOWNLOAD HERE

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

DISSECTING CHORISAPIENS

Spoiler Alert! Do not attempt to read this post if you haven't listened to the Chorisapiens megamix yet. The mix is packed with funny bits, unexpected twists and turns and obscure samples, many of these need to be explained to be fully appreciated by the average listener due to the language or cultural barriers. But I'm a firm believer that knowing the play-list in advance will ruin your mixtape listening experience. So if you haven't done so, go ahead and download it, listen to it and then you're allowed to come back and read this post.


DATA MC - Intro: Remember when I reviewed Bang Data's debut EP and I listed a whole bunch of artists who use the word Data in their names? I once was doing some research on-line and I found out there were many more than I expected. Data MC is one of them, I know nothing about this rapper except for the assumption that he must be from around here because ha has Zion I and my friend Deuce Eclipse (of Bang Data!) as guests in his 2007 album Data Invasion. I didn't listen to the album, I just downloaded the intro and after a couple of minor twitches it became my intro.

KOXMOZ - Pura Coincidencia: I am fortunate enough to have many rappers dropping my name on their tracks. Sometimes it's insulting me, like in Grammy-winners Sindicato Argentino del Hip Hop's "Piénsalo" (which I used in all my previous mixes), some other times is giving me props, like in this track by my homies Koxmoz. In between the repetition of my name you can also hear a voice saying "quién és?" That's from Koxmoz's MC Apolo Novax in a track he recorded with myself back when I used to rap, called "Lección #1".

CLEMENTE - Concurso de Hinchadas Internacionales: This is an Argentine comedy record of 1982. Clemente was a TV puppet show that had its peak of popularity during the Soccer World Cup and it made fun of each countries' fans based on very politically incorrect xenophobic stereotypes... by today PC standards. But back them we were all kids and we didn't care if they depicted Africans as having a bone in their hair. It was hilarious even for those who, like myself, never gave a rat's ass about soccer.    

DR. TANGALANGA - Albañil Felipe: I love the Beastie Boys. Back in the mid-nineties they released a compilation of old stuff aptly named Some Old Bullshit that blew my mind. It included a track called "Cooky Puss" that was one of their first attempts at hip-hop, it was just a looped track with these guys prank-calling people on the phone, something we used to do a lot back then. So as a tribute to that early Beasties track I wanted to mix some prank-dialing and I found this old tape by Argentina's prank-master comedian Tangalanga.

BLACK MANDINGO - Cumbia del Heavybass: Originally I wanted to do a neo-cumbia-free mix, mixing exclusively old-school breaks of traditional cumbia and Latin funk, but then I found this track and it fitted so well that it almost changed completely the direction of the mix. I mashed it up with M.I.A. and I was scared this might be too much of a cliche by now... for about a month I sat on it, trying to decide if I should keep it or go back and start it all over again, but I ended up keeping it and I think it worked out pretty well. (Download it free here!).

LA MALA RODRIGUEZ - Tambalea: La Mala became kind of like a common place in Spanish rap. She's the one rapper that every sucker who doesn't listen to rap knows about. Same thing happened to Orishas. They are that type of crossover-friendly-Mestizo-fusion-rappers that the Latin-Alt listeners can have on their IPods without the fear of being "ghetto." Anyhow, she was hella dope back in the 90's when those suckers didn't know about her. This is one of the first cuts of her debut album, when she was still getting props from the hip-hop underground. I wonder if there's one female rapper I haven't had a crush on at one point in my life...


ORQUESTA RIVERSIDE - En Casa Del Trompo No Bailes: A great funky break from this 70's Cuban band found on the Revolucion! compilation. Lately I've been listening to a lot more funk and old school and I wanted to include a lot more of this in Chorisapiens. I don't know shit about this band but the break was pretty fun to play with. One day I'll do a mix that's just funky breaks... Full album review here.



PUBLIC ENEMY - Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos: Public Enemy's best album is also one of the top-10 most influential hip-hop records of all time and I used to listen to it a lot, and I mean a LOT. That style of sample-based production with infinite layers of crap on top of each other, that made the Bomb Squad legendary, became the dominant style of the golden era of sampled music (1988-1992, before they started cracking down on copy-right infringement) and you can obviously tell that's a huge influence in my megamixes that sometimes seem stuck in 1989... and that's the point. In this case I used a live intro of a PE concert over a cheesy cumbia remix of some wanker called Miguel Angel along with a sample from Wu-Tang's GZA.

ANA TIJOUX - La Nueva Condena: Talk about having a crush on a female rapper... Anita has been part of all my megamixes so far, and she remains as one of the only constants. As you must know by now, her second solo album, 1977, will be released soon by Nacional Records and she's coming in March to tour the US for the first time (I can't wait!). Maybe that's why I was so excited that I included her twice in this mix, once with this, her own song, and later with her collaboration on another Nacional Records' artist, Latin Bitman
 

LOS MIRLOS - La Danza De Los Mirlos: This was my first knowledge of Peruvian cumbia, but I actually didn't know they were Peruvian until a lot later. They were always very popular in Buenos Aires outskirts so I assumed they were local. I used the bass line from "Cumbia de los Pajaritos" which is a cover of this same song by Grupo Fantasma, but I left the birds from Los Mirlos on top. That part it's a big ol' mess with five tracks playing at once, but that's what happens when I have a lot of free time in my hands, I start working on the same 20 seconds adding more layer of crap until I have to stop myself.


EL REMOLON - Bolivia: I abused so much the Zizek releases in my previous mixes, that I made a point of not playing any here but I ended up using a track by one of my favorite producers, El Remolón, mashed-up with the chorus of "Drop It Low Girl" by Ester Dean and Chris Brown. In the end, I also used a track from the always amazing Frikstailers but not one released by Zizek.   




SONIDO LA CHANGA - Cumbia Loca: I'm friend with this Mexican dude who claims to be the godson of Sonido La Changa, one of the maximum pioneers of Mexican cumbia sonidera. I don't know if it's true or he just smokes too much pot, but the thing is, he passed me some Changa tracks including this one that blended perfectly with El Remolón and it was easy to mash up with some Eric Sermon's acapellas. 
 


LOS FABULOSOS CADILLACS - Matador: I've been trying to use this break for a long long time and I was finally able to blend it in here... and nobody noticed it. Los Fabulosos Cadillacs is a ska/latin rock/party band from Argentina that's very well known all over the continent, in part thanks to this 1994 humongous hit. It's a great song with amazing Brazilian batucada percussion (some say stolen from Olodum) but unfortunately, in the US it became one of the biggest cliches of Latin music! It's sort of like the flagship of the whole rock-en-Español movement from the late nineties to these days and it's the song you can drop at any dull moment of any Latin party and it will bring the crowd back up in an instant. It's beyond my comprehension why there are not ten million remixes of this song all over the internet! Maybe because the original is so good that nobody dares touching it? Hey, Nacional Records, how about a Cadillac's remixes album?


GARDEL & VICTOR - Mi Buenos Aires Querido: OK, brace yourselves for the first unexpected twist of Chorisapiens. Everybody knows Carlos Gardel, right? The biggest figure in tango's history. Well, how about a duet with Victor Díaz? This guy sells flowers on the street in downtown Buenos Aires, along with his own bootlegged CD's of himself singing with world famous stars like Michael Jackson, The Beatles and yes Gardel... over cumbia and reggaetón beats! Yikes! Yup, it's fucking insane. This dude took the whole mash-up idea to a new level, mixing it with karaoke. I only used the intro of his reggaetón cover/mash-up of Gardel because the rest is hilarious but it's absolute garbage. I was about to use his version of "Thriller" too (titled "Triller") where The King of Pop is forced to share the microphone with a kid who I can only assume is Victor's son... but maybe that would've been too much. Next time you're doing whip-its and drinking cough syrup with your junkie friends, remember to drop this one and it will amuse them for sure.

DJ RAFF - Latino & Proud: I talk way too much about two Chilean artists on this blog, one is, of course, Anita Tijoux, the other one is DJ Raff. He appears three times in Chorisapien, this one being the most obvious one. This is a track from his amazing Raffolution CD blended with Professor Angel Dust's "Horny Mambo" in the beginning and with Mexican Dubwiser's remix of Grupo Mojado's "Tonta" in the end. And on top of that you have me scratching the acapella of Beastie Boys' classic "Paul Revere".

SABO - Otra Noche: A great DJ/Producer from New York City that I have discovered thanks to the Bersa Discos Tormenta Tropical parties where he was guest DJ more than once. He has also done some cumbia tracks for Bersa recently, but I used two of his older remixes on this set. This one where he samples Don Omar, and another when where he samples Pitbull, two artist that by themselves I hate but I don't mind listening to them in these mixes.


RA - Tente (El Matador Rockers): Ra is a new rapper from the Matador Rockers crew in, Barcelona, Spain, and they are part of the Del Palo family, under the guidance of my very favorite hip-hop producer Griffi. Ra's rap is nothing out of the average but the electro-new-school beats are insane. Here I blended it up with Latin Bitman and LeFreak Selector from the Cucumelo remix comp. The best thing about it, Ra's debut album, Freedom is free. Download it here.


TROUBLE FUNK - Pump Me Up: In Mersaholic I used Sugarhill Gang's "Apache" and I loved the results so for this one I decided to use another classic old-school joint with killer percussion and the legendary "Pump pum pum pump me up!" I mashed it up with a Fort Knox Five (my favorite contemporary funk artists) remix of a Brazilian song, "Salvador Diaspora." I do have the vinyl for the Fort Knox Five track, but I really wish I had the actual vinyl for the Trouble Funk one with that amazing cover, I'd put it on a frame.

LOS DESTELLOS - Noche De Garúa: I used this exact same sample as an intro in my remix of El Himno Del Cucumelo and I liked it so much I hd to use it again. I found it on one of my favorite blogs, Super Sonido! A classic Peruvian cumbia from the 60's with an announcer saying "And now my friends... something groovy for you!" Thanks to Sonido Franko of Super Sonido for introducing me to so much old (new for me) music on a regular basis.


LOU PEREZ - Aflo Hustle: I don't know if it should actually be Afro and it's a typo of emusic.com, where I downloaded this comp. This was another unexpected change in the mix. So far all my megamixes were done in a constant BPM, increasing gradually, with no big jumps at all, here I had that intro of "El Guapo" by Los Diablos Rojos that was taking me back to the 105 BPM I was coming from, but by mistake I dropped this one that was 125 BPM and it  worked out  pretty well so I decided to keep it and make the abrupt jump to hiperspace.

SUMO - Los Viejos Vinagre: This short little bit of a funk/rock breakdown will be only appreciated by the Argentine listeners because unlike most other Argentine rock bands from the 80's, Sumo didn't have any significant success abroad (maybe just in Chile and Uruguay). Sumo was arguably the most influential rock band of its generation, they started as a South American copy of Joy Division and The Clash and then branched out into a lot other music genres before their leader, an enigmatic Italian immigrant who sung in English passed away. This was one of their more poppy hits, I definitely prefer their reggae and punk songs, there's a remix of it too, but's pretty wack, mainly because they didn't use that powerful breakdown.

PALENKE SOULTRIBE - No Voy A Morir: I mentioned these guys many times in this blog, they are my Colombian buddies from LA mixing cumbia and vallenato with techno and house.  Good stuff, you totally gotta check 'em out. I'm excited because they're coming to San Francisco for the first time soon and I'll finally be able to see them live, I hear they have a pretty impressive show. Anyway, I basically fucked up their track a lot before mixing it. I mashed up some cumbia villera hype vocals first and then this horrendous acapella by Pitbull. I was actually looking for another acapella but I found this one almost by accident and it fitted perfectly the structure of the beat and then I was all like, shall I leave it? I mean, I fucking hate this douchebag and all he represents and people are gonna think that I totally sold out by playing such a commercial summer-hit that's gonna automatically date my mix but what the hell, it sounds good together with Palenke so I decided to keep it. 


YOLANDA BE COOL - Afro Nuts  (Douster Remix): Here's another appearance by a Zizek star. This song came out at the end of last year and I actually played for the first time in public at a New Years Eve party, right after the midnight countdown. It's a great party song in its original form and in all it's various remixes and I love them all. I think it's the first candidate for the best of 2010 top-11. Oh, and I mashed it up with another M.I.A. vocal track. 


ELECTROTRIBAL - Electro Cumbia: It's a lot more house than electro cumbia, but hey, they probably named it after the band. I talked about these Venezuelan guys before on this blog and we even gave away some tracks I think. Here I used a remix done by Erisch Ensastigue, whoever that is... which I chose because it has that long-ass breakdown that leads into a Mexican sonidero style of the same song, "La Cumbia Cienaguera." I also added some rap and cumbia villera vocals on top at the end and that announcer...

SABOR SONIDERO - Luz De Mar:  Now this is the real gem and my favorite moment of the whole megamix, hidden right before the end. I had the track with that long breakdown I was talking about before and I was like, wow, it would be ideal if I had some sonidero MC talking shit. I went online looking for live sonidero recordings and this was the first one I found and the first track I hear has this dude... it was irresistible! It made me laugh my ass off, I played it like twenty times back to back in disbelief, did I really hear him saying that?! It's so over the top ridiculous! Oh my god, I have to use it! He's actually saying "hey everybody, say hi to the TV cameras that are there in the back, wave your hands! Please somebody point out where there is someone with faggot face so he can be filmed by the video camera (...) here's one that looks like a total queer with his long curly hair..." Oh yeah baby! I've been told that the cumbia sonidera scene in Puebla, Mexico is surprisingly gay friendly and I've seen some videos of gay guys dancing cumbias together at those parties, so I don't really know if the announcer is being ironic (I'd hope!) or he's just totally oblivious about his homophobic remarks (I'd guess...). Anyway, I actually laugh so hard that it made me cry.

NOTE: Keep in mind this is only a partial track list, focused on the highlights. If you want the complete list you gotta check my play.fm channel.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Best of 2009-Part 4: Top 11 Albums

I know old-school readers are gonna try to argue this, but I don’t really like albums. There, I said it. I think that (aside from some extremely few exceptions) genius comes in small doses and sporadic influxes of inspiration. There are maybe ten albums EVER that I can really listen from beginning to end without being tempted to skip a track. Lots of great albums have many inspired moments, which I love, but even the best ones have some filler or some self-indulgent parasite crap attached to them. Besides, from a DJ perspective, albums are absolutely pointless because you never play more than two or –in exceptional cases three- tracks from one record in your set (unless it’s a compilation, of course). That’s why DJ’s in general, and I in particular, love singles. I love 7 inches and yeah, I love MP3’s, a format that allows me to keep only the tracks that I like and/or I might play, and delete the rest of the crappy album to save storage capacity in my hard-drive (and avoid embarrassing moments when you have guests and you have your ITunes playing in shuffle mode). So, without further ado, here’s a list I compiled of 11 albums released in 2009 that I enjoyed and saved in their entirety.


1.- ZZK Sound Vol.2
File under: Post-Neo-Cumbia and beyond.
Format: I have two CD’s, the ZZK Records' version and the Nacional Records' version. And no, you can't have one, I’m keeping them both for their historical significance. Besides, the Nacional Records' version has one track less (the one by Marcelo Fabián) but one more (by El Remolón) if you buy it digital.
Reason to keep it all: Virtually all the tracks here are must-haves for my DJ set. There’s no filler.
Mixability: Both my mixtapes Linyerismo II and Mersaholic have plenty of music borrowed from here, and there’s still more to use in future work.
Favorite track: “Cartagena” by Sonido del Príncipe.
Available: on emusic.com, itunes, etc.


2.- MEXICAN INSTITUTE OF SOUND – Soy Sauce
File under: Post-modern hipster-hop and random self-indulgent ironic crap. Format: Nacional sent me the CD, which forced me to listen to the album as a whole, if I had to buy it track by track, I would’ve probably gotten 9 out of the 14. Reason to keep it all: I have Camilo’s same sense of humor so the whole album makes me laugh.
Mixability: “Cumbia” is a great track to play with and also is “Yo Digo Baila,” I used pieces of those two in my mixes Mersaholic and Linyerismo II respectively.

Favorite track: “Alocatel (Ad Rock Remix)” if only for the fetish extra value of having one of the Beastie Boys work on it... I’m so jealous...
Available: on emusic.com, itunes, etc.


3.- CHICO SONIDO – Chico Sonido
File under: Cut-n-Paste collage of old school Latin funk and other weird shit.
Format: I got it on CD, but MP3 would’ve been just as good because the CD book doesn’t have any interesting information at all.
Reason to keep it all: There are many lessons to be learned of this and it requires multiple listens to appreciate it.

Mixability: Mixing in a DJ set tracks by other DJ that already are a mix of other tracks is like cheating for some, but I’ve done it and I don’t regret it (a break from “Más Discoteque” was used in Mersaholic). Still, this is an album designed for attentive listeners and not so much for DJ’s to play.
Favorite track: “Ye Ye Ye”
Available: on emusic.com, itunes, etc.


4.- BRONX RIVER PARKWAY – San Sebastian 152
File under: Latin funk.
Format: MP3 but if I ever see the vinyl LP, I’ll buy it right away.
Reason to keep it all: I never listened to the album in order as a whole, but I had it on random rotation on my Ipod for months and every time a track from this album comes up I’m instantly like “wow, what is that?!” It hasn’t ceased to surprise me yet.
Mixability: Haven’t played any of these tracks on my set or mixtapes yet, but I’ll probably find a way to do so soon.

Favorite track: “La Valla”
Available: on emusic.com, itunes, etc.


5.- QUANTIC and his combo bárbaro – Tradition in Transition
File under: Gringo digging Colombian music.
Format: MP3 but would be great to find it on vinyl.
Reason to keep it all: Record collector Quantic has proven many times that he knows way more about Latin (but cool) music than almost anybody else in Latin America. He moved to Colombia, formed a band with locals and this is the result: a Latin beathead's wet dream.
Mixability: Unlike previous Quantic work that used to be more electronic and DJ oriented, this is some old school instrumental shit, the type he likes to sample from. Besides pleasing the break-hunters out there, it'd pretty good for the traditional salsero crowd if only they were a little more open minded.
Favorite track: "Mambo Los Quantic"

Available: on emusic.com, itunes, etc.


6.- ANA TIJOUX - 1977
File under: Classic hip-hop with nostalgia for the 90's.
Format: Bootleg MP3 sent by Anita herself before the official release of the album. Pretty cool, yeah, but I still prefer the old days when she would send me a signed CD.
Reason to keep it all: It's Anita, my biggest and longest lasting "celebrity" crush ever and I love her to death, so I have to save anything that has has her voice in it (I also saved the work-in-progress demos of this album).
Mixability: Oh, how I wish there was a party or venue and a crowd where I could play her music here in the States! Unfortunately, I haven’t found it yet. The Latin-pop and LatinAlt audiences still don’t understand hip-hop (unless it’s fusion). The US Latin hip-hop audience doesn’t understand “good” hip-hop. Otherwise, there are plenty of tracks in this album that I’d love to spin. Since it’s mostly jazzy downtempo, I’ll be including many of these tracks in my lounge sets for sure.
Favorite track: "Crisis de un MC"
Available: Here.


7.- EL REMOLÓN - Pibe Cosmo
File under: Neo-Cumbia.
Reason to keep it all: Nobody personifies all the greatness and innovative characteristics of the whole Zizek scene in one artist better than El Remolón. Besides, hes from Caballito!
Mixability: Not all the tracks are dance-floor oriented, but you can tell they all have a DJ brain behind them. Plus they have plenty of clean breaks to cut and play with, ideal for mash-ups and shit like that. I used his music in all my mixtapes of 2009.
Favorite track: "Negros Cumbieros"
Available: on emusic.com, itunes, etc.


8.- TOY SELECTAH - The Mex-More LP
File under: Neo-Cumbia and Ravertón remixes.
Format: As far as I known, it was only released in MP3 for free download, I guess they can’t really sell it because of all the copyright infringement.
Reason to keep it all: Duh! It’s Toy! What kind of question is that?
Mixability: By definition, all Toy Selectah tracks are great for DJing and are a must on everybody’s play-lists. The only problem is that sometimes he over-produces them too much, puts way too many layers of stuff leaving very little air to breath, or breaks to play with.
Favorite track: “One Minute Pal Cumbión!”
Available: Here.


9.- DJ RAFF – Traveling Partners EP
File under: Post-hip-hop, turntablism.
Format: Free MP3 download.
Reason to keep it all: His previous album Raffolution was pure gold so this one was a no-brainer, and it was free! Dude, I would’ve paid for this. DJ Raff is the best DJ in all Latin America, is that enough reason?
Mixability: 100%, For DJ’s By DJ’s could be the slogan.
Favorite track: “I need a beat”
Available: Here.


10.- AZAXX – The Exotic Delight Bay
File under: Refined Latin beats for the dancefloor and lounge.
Format: Bootleg MP3.
Reason to keep it all: French dude here released an elegant collection of instrumental tracks with plenty of Caribbean and Brazilian sounds. Sophisticated listener, diggers and beat-heads will love it while the mainstream Latin crowd will continue to be indifferent because of the lack of recognizable catchy choruses.
Mixability: 100% DJ-oriented music.
Favorite track: "Zorbanissimo"
Available: Unknown.


11.- SANTULLO – Bajo Fondo Presenta
File under: Post-Electro-Tango-Rap?
Format: Bootleg MP3 but I wouldn’t mind paying for it.
Reason to keep it all: After years of defending their arch-nemesis Gotan Project, in 2009 I became the ultimate fan of everything Bajofondo.
Mixability: OK, maybe not all the tracks are DJ-friendly, but there are plenty of great moments for those who can understand the Spanish language and appreciate good lyricism.
Favorite track: “Quién”
Available: Unknown.