Something of a tradition ’round these parts. In the spirit of Xmas I keep the tracks separate, so you can treat ’em like Legos and re-arrange and combine to your liking. This year has lots of soca and a lil Bieber (chopped up and not slopped up), but my favorite is DJ Mingo’s reggaeton remix of “El Burrito Sabañero.”
1. Traditional Ethiopian – Genna
2. Baron – Drink Ah Rum
3. Billo’s Caracas Band – Brindis Navideño
4. Unknown – Money in the Bank
5. Scarface – Thiefing Santa
6. Colm III – Christmas Tree
7. Unknown – Funk Do Noel
8. Tosin Martins – Silent Night
9. Jacob Miller – Natty No Santa Claus
10. Susan Macio – Trini Christmas
11. Justin Bieber – Christmas Eve (Screwed and Chopped)
12. DJ Mingo – Burrito Sabañero (Reggaeton Remix)
13. R. Kelly – A Love Letter Christmas
14. Fernand Gignac – Le Feu Danse San La Cheminée
15. Willie Colon – Esta Navidad
16. Professor Ken Philmore – Christmas Stagger Riddim
17. Lord Beginner – Christmas Morning the Rum Had Me Yawning
18. Los Jibaros – Decimas De Nacimiento
19. Marry Harris – Happy New Year Blues
20. Corre Guachin – Papa Noel
21. August Burns Red – God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman
Let’s hope the power stays on, East Coast. Staying away from the most obvious stuff as well as the Katrina stuff because let’s hope it doesn’t go that way, ok?
Sonora Dinamita – El Paraguas
Herbie Hancock – Eye of the Hurricane
Neil Young – Like a Hurricane
Caetano Veloso – Irene
Willie Hutch – Stormy Weather
Grace Jones – Hurricane
Bernard Fevre – Too Much Water
The Warlocks – Hurricane Heart Attack
Hurricane Chris – Halle Berry
DJ Nasty – Hurricane
Mobb Deep – Quiet Storm
DJ Hurricane – Connect
New Edition – Can You Stand the Rain
Aventura – La Tormenta (basically the 21st century bachata version of the New Edition)
Leadbelly – Goodnight Irene
Thanks to the Tweeps who crowdsourced some of this.
Started in July, didn’t get finalized until late summer, but mixes are like any work of art — never completed. Keep those windows open, because some of these get selected by what’s coming out of car stereos when I’m walking my dog.
1. Wale, Jeremih, Rick Ross – That Way
2. A.R. Kane – Urvaasi
3. Xuman – Koty Koty
4. Erick Rincon – Intentalo
5. LV feat Okmalumkoolkat – Boomslang
6. DJ Cleo – B.O.B.
7. French Fries – Laquisha
8. Antony Santos – Vete (Uproot Andy Mix)
9. Joswa in da House – Ella Quiere Cualto
10. Vybez Kartel – Yuh Love
11. Wiley – Numbers In Action
12. Drake – I’m On One
13. DJ Nehpets – 6 Foot 7 Remix
14. Boylan & J-Roc – Letz Rock
15. Sissy Nobby – Lay Me Down
16. Cassius – I <3 U So (NO OLD MAN RAPPING VERSION)
4. DJ CÉSAR – LAMBADA FUNK REMIX (edit)
9. Ivy Queen – No Lo Hace
Special thanks to autotune, Wayneandwax, Dave Quam, Twitter, 4shared, Fruityloops in the Caribbean, Mexico, hipsters, the Spanish Empire, 88.7 FM, oil companies.
DJ Stefan Goldmann tempers (to put it lightly!) the effusion of techno-optimism over digital music and the internet from the past decade. Really, we’re all coming down from that high, aren’t we? One of the most notable parts of this essay is its focus on the restructuring of the labor market for music and sound professionals. Actually, “restructuring” doesn’t quite capture it as much as a verb like “imploding.” These are artisans and craft professionals, not just “suits” who are losing their jobs.
Absurdly, the complete disappearance of economic barriers to distribution (offering a free download doesn’t cost more than the time to upload the file) hit the wallets of the “indies” first, stripping a substantial part of their income. This mostly affected the artists and the personnel around them: designers, engineers, studio musicians, promotion and label professionals, music journalists, et al. The mass of competition they encountered meant anyone with a limited marketing budget had a difficult time surviving in the market. With the same promotional tools available to almost anyone, they lost their efficiency. The professionals listed above basically lost their income. In 2000, an average vinyl single generated a return of a couple of thousand Euros, while in 2011 the same single generates a loss of a couple of hundred Euros, even without what were formerly known as “production costs.” Anything on top, like a bigger production, a decent mastering, or proper sleeve design became factors of deepening material loss. That area of the craft gets subsequently cut off and replaced by an undiscriminating routine of two-step-distribution: “save as” and “upload to.”
At the same time, a vast reserve army of DJs has been created. What does a DJ do besides share music, something that information technology does for us anyway? The advantage, ironically enough, goes to older artists whose reputations were created by the music industry bubble of the decade previous. Technological innovation in the absence of strong social movements benefits those who were already winning (telecoms and venture capitalists in this case).
What have we learned here? The so called “democratization” didn’t work. Everyone did believe they gained access. This access by itself is stripped of value, though, because no one cares that DJ XY from Z has that new record out. Through any available channel I get dozens of requests per day to listen to somebody’s track. That’s after a spam filter and a disclaimer that I don’t want to receive files. The result is that I don’t listen to files at all — I do buy vinyl regularly. DJ XY doesn’t get the gig. If he does by accident, that’s for the cab fare. In Berlin, with its conspicuous population of 50,000 DJs, promoters and club owners don’t have to try hard. There’s always someone who will play for free if asked. Hey, that’s free promotion for the new DJ XY record. Meanwhile in the provincial town of Z, the locals “practice” for free, so they develop the skills they’ll need to “make it” in Berlin one day. That’s where things come full circle. No proper gigs, no record sales, no income. Anyone who is not already “there” doesn’t seem to arrive anymore.
But actually the DJ does do something besides share music, and this is where I disagree with Stefan’s conclusions. He believes the solution to this contradiction is ever more unique and niche works that will “stand out.” In a sense, he folds all of his critiques back into the same old tired solution — create your way out of it through pure hard work and artistic genius! The pure work of art can now stand out! The solution to overproduction of commodities is specialized lovingly produced commodities! This simply won’t work — all sonic innovations are quickly assimilated by sampling technology and metastasize into genres, get sucked into commercial forms, and exhausted of their novelty. Just like all commodities. My very vague groping towards a solution is the creation not of commodities, but of social experiences, of face-to-face interaction and collaboration, solidarities, movements. An mp3 can never do this. A brand can never do this. Music alone can never do this. Only human beings working out their shared future — which is to say, politics — can do this.
… and knowing why that is (and why there’s generally no cumbia in the islands) might tell you a lot about both cumbia and the Caribbean. But sorry, honey, I ain’t the one.
There’s a lot of other stuff of course, from 80s grocery store pop — Tears for Fears may be the world’s most ubiquitous band — to rock en español, salsa, merengue, reggae, and corporate pop. Heard some of that Ke$ha for the first time, and can I say, this is what media conglomerates throw money at these days? To quote the name of a tourist trap Mexican place in the Condado neighborhood of San Juan, “Orale, guey!”
The urban stuff rules of course, which means LOTS of merengue de calle, a bit of dancehall, a (tiny) bit of U.S. commersh hip hop — the latter a music that conquered the globe five years ago only to all but completely recede into U.S.-centered provincialism a few years later. It would seem Lil Wayne doesn’t export well. And oh yes, Pitbull, who, along with mentor Lil Jon, anticipated the way to maximize international saturation would be to go deeper into the club, mining the trendiest house tracks of the year. They certainly speak Americano in this respect.
And, oh yes, reggaeton! You’ll hear the big pop tunes that you get on the radio in the states, autotune ballads. And Don Omar’s self-conscious global cross-pollination never sounded better pumping from a Jeep Wrangler on the north coast of the island.
This is of course the watering down of the wilder cacophonic kuduro that pricked up the ears of a thousand bloggers a few years back, smoothing things out for something more Carnival-ready. Gotta say I miss the dreds, Don.
What doesn’t make it over here, or at least to the Latin radio dominated by Central American tastes in the DC area, is reggaeton’s current throwback phase, exemplified by two of the best songs on PR radio. The first recalls the teched-out DJ Blass stuff that knocked me head-over-heels back in ’04, but with some of-the-moment (at least in Latin pop) autotunage. In PR, they don’t stop at the club, they tear the beach up too. And you’re in the right place if you can’t tell the difference between the two.
Quick digression: one of my favorite tracks of 2010 was the similarly Blass-inspired remix of Bomba Estereo’s “Fuego” by the Frikstailers. With this and moombahton, ersatz reggaeton was killing it last year.
Next, a track by reggaeton’s prettiest pretty-boy, Tito el Bambino. His last album was almost totally ballads underscored by gentle dembows, but here he teams up with my favorite spanish “ragga moofin,” Don Chezina, for a deliberate recall of the proto-reggaeton era of DJ Playero. The beat switches up mixtape-stylee, with some vintage Playero-riddims thrown in for good measure.
Perhaps post-crossover-crash, reggaeton’s nostalgically revisiting its roots.
Speaking of Playero, I scored a couple of mixes (37 and 39) at a record store at the seen-better-days mall/market of Rio Piedras, along with an Omega bootleg. You would think this would be the ideal place for CD-R mixtapes, but you’d be wrong. It does have an amazing food court, though. You know your roast pork’s coming from the right place when you’re getting it from a 350-poung guy named Junior who’s being assisted by an older gentleman with a prominent bypass surgery scar.
Speaking of Omega, he’s more prominent than Daddy Yankee these days. His CDs were everywhere. Check out his own Dembow homage. Fuerte!
I finally came across that universal figure of hood modernity, the bootleg guy, hanging at a pool hall on Luquillo Beach, where the cars are hot, the music is loud, and the ballcaps are askew at impossible angles. And the mixtapes are more expensive than what I get in DC. I tried to go for the 3-for-10 deal I get from the go-go dudes at the Florida Market, only to be told by my very stoned vendor that he works for someone else and can’t make deals. Todos somos trabajadores!
The mambo I got there was some of the most creative music I heard on the island. As it emerges from its convention-establishing phase, mambo is mixing with club sounds in a variety of weird ways. Zombie Nation’s soccer anthem “Kernkraft 400” makes an impromptu appearance among Dominican polyrhythms:
Fútbol is really the path towards global crossover, which, just like capital, is where pop music wants to go.
The compilation closes with a timely remix of MJ’s “Remember the Time” (labeled presumptuously “Omega FT Michael Jackson”). I noted the explosion of mambo remixes of Michael Jackson acá.
Here’s the whole compilation, which is the first I’ve ever purchased with a prominent twitter link printed on the cover. Don’t sleep on the merengue remix of 704 Boyz, or the soon-to-blow-up Prophex.
…for peace comes dropping slow…
–William Butler Yeats, “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”
Ok, without much fanfare (because Christmas vacation is a lot of work), here’s this year’s addition to my Xmas Mix series. Very “Latin” (or is that “Tropical”?), so hope it brings some warm vibes to your holiday season. Parent-friendly, maybe even SFW!
1. Darlene Love – Winter Wonderland
2. Los Exitos – Navidad de los Pobres
3. The Wailers – Sound the Trumpets
4. José Feliciano – Feliz Navidad (Jelybean Benitez Dub)
5. Apollo Zero – Do You Hear Rainbows I Hear
6. Doces Barbaros – Cacara
7. Ismael Rivera – Bomba de Navidad
8. Sonora Palacios – Feliz Navidad
9. Los Titanes – Noche de Invierno
10. Afrosound – Sabor Navideño
11. Hereldeduke Vs. The Snowman – Dubstep Snowman
12. The Aggrovators – Santa Dub
13. Los Granadians – Hacia Belén Va Una Burra
14. Joyce – O Velhinho
15. Caetano Veloso – In The Hot Sun of Christmas Day
16. Divide and Create – Velvet Santa
17. Miguelito – Con Mi Hijo en la Navidad
18. Pee Pee Dynamite – Groovy Christmas & New Year
19. Solomon Burke – Presents for Christmas
20. Willie Colon & Hector Lavoe – Popurri Navideño
21. Esquivel – Adios