Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Moombahton: what's that all about then?

It's early 2010, and Dave Nada is in a tight spot. The Washington DJ been roped in to play at his lil’ cousin's skipping party, a Daily Mail-friendly invention whereby a bunch of kids slack off school and have their own impromptu, unanounced cop-bothering house party. Anyway, Dave, top Washington DJ and producer that he is, has been helping out with this whole Ferris Bueller scene, dropping a reggaeton set, but as mentioned, he's fucked: he's out of tunes. All he has left is a bunch of Dutch techno, which they aren't going to go for. His hand forced, he slaps on the Afrojack’s Moombah remix and tries to avert a disco-lynching by pitching it riiiiiight down, hoping that they won't notice. Then it happens: the track's rolling percussive rhythm enters a breakdown, the vocal hollers "t-t-t-t-t-turn up the bass!" - and the kids go absolutely fucking batshit nuts. He follows it up by repeating the half-speed trick Sidney Samson’s Riverside. Bang! Another winner. Like the eureka guy in the bath, Isaac newton getting apples on a Bosman from gravity and more pertinently the DJ who invented Belgian New Beat after accidentally playing an industrial track at 33 instead of 45, Dave Nada had his own moment of divine intervention - Moombahton was born.

In under a year Moombahton's gone from that house party to worldwide buzz: from America to Japan via Holland and Israel, from Canada to the UK, we're all getting on it, with the likes of Diplo, XXXChange, Toddla T and A-Trak all jumping on board. Nada, along with scene-shapers David Heartbreak, Munchi, and other DJ/producers like A-Mac, DJ Melo, Sabo, Apt-One, Wyld Stallyns and Skinny Friedman, quickly laid down the Moombahton template: a percussive 108bpm two-step reggaeton rhythm, met with crisp tweaky electronica, truly humungous breakdowns and equally sizeable drops, creating a hybrid that will connect with anyone with a passing interest in electronic dance music - acid, techno, even dubstep, it's all in there, but with far greater warmth, thanks to the rump-friendly Latino underpinning. If I’m being a spotter I’ll flag up a precursor in the mid-90s UK compilation on Fused & Bruised, This Is Latin Amyl, which shoved a tab of acid down the neck of an entire carnival, metaphorically speaking, you understand.

But the accessiblity continues: it also shares DNA with Baltimore Bounce, Crunk, Brazilian Baile Funk and AV8-style hip hop bangers, all outgoing, party-minded genres, miles away from the mardy face of much of the current UK scene – I’m looking at you, dubstep and witch house. But if it has a template, it’s a broad one that’s already allowing the genre to grow and develop, adding bits to see what fits – some of it leans towards the more traditional cumbia style, while others have used it to renose dubstep towards more energetic dancefloors, while over in the UK, Smutlee has taken it in more of a dancehall direction, while London label Mutant House have added a garage feel. Plus, Munchi and Heartbreak have already taken the sound into tougher, gnarlier spots, resulting in the far darker sub-genre Moombahcore. That’s all without taking in the raft of edits that would endear it to both the UK market and more mainstream ears – from Justice, Chemical Brothers, Count & Sinden, Josh Wink, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Drop The Lime to the more obvious pop edits of Lady Gaga and Rihanna, Moombahton's tentacles are everywhere. Jesus, even The Doobie Brothers get a look in. What's fun is watching the whole thing shape up, branch off, develop and grow.

And for a UK crowd now plenty used to tropical and two-step electronica, it's all set up to welcome Moombahton into their clubs in 2011 - and to get you started, here are some mp3s to whet your whistle...

Dave Nada - La Gata (Moombahton edit)
Hyper Crush - Ayo (Wyld Stallyns Moombahton edit)
Crystal Fighters  - I Love London (A-Mac Moombahton edit)
Kid Sister - Pro Nails Ruska remix (Ivan Rankic Moombahstep edit)

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