What is Moombahton? If you haven’t heard of it yet, soon you will. It has gone from being a weird experiment — a record played at the wrong speed by the right DJ — to a global movement of Latin electronic dance music that has piqued the interest of the BBC and NPR. But before we get into the weird and amazing rise of the genre, let’s just say this: It’s a hell of a lot of fun. Every crowd we’ve played it for, from true blue dance music fans to casual weekend party-goers goes totally and completely apeshit when they hear it, whether they know what they’re hearing or not.
We’ve been DJing and producing music for a long time, and we don’t think we’ve ever seen any style of music or movement really embody its era like Moombahton has. Moombahton stands at the intersection of
some of the emergent phenomena of our age — the internet and Latin culture. Take those two kinetic forces and fuse them with global electronic dance music, and there you go. Fortunately, Moombahton has an origin story that makes it pretty easy to understand. It is the product of a serendipitous moment that happened to the right person.
After the jump, your disc jockeys continue with this Moombahton explainer. Sounds included.
In 2009, Dave Nada, one of DC’s finest DJs and producers and half of Nadastrom, was DJing a party for his young cousin. All of the kids were playing reggaeton, and Dave, being more of a ravey electonic DJ, put on a Dutch house record called “Moombah” by Chuckie, pitching it down from 45 down to 33. Everybody went ballistic. It had the same snare patterning as reggaeton, but it was raved out with huge breakdowns and builds and car alarm synths.
Fortunately, Dave was exactly the right guy to have this experience. He made up a name for this new experiment and made some bootleg Moombahton edits. They got passed around to DJs in the know. We started making a few bootlegs and originals ourselves, as did a number of other producers and before long, one of us was strolling through the streets of Austin at SXSW hearing the strains of a Skinny Friedman Moombahton track wafting out of a club on Congress, only to poke inside and see Dave turning out a crowd to the new sound.
We had Neil Armstrong, Jay-Z’s DJ, out to play with us at Silk City. We dropped a bunch of our Moombahton tracks and predictably, the roof blew off. He wanted to know what on earth we were playing and we explained. “Just wait,” we told him. No more than a few months later, he dropped us a tweet from Berlin saying, “Holy shit, they’re playing your Moombahton stuff over here.” The whole thing was just getting started.
Through Dave’s force of personality and amazing DJing and production chops, the sound started spreading and far-flung producers started experimenting. The internet was really crucial to the spread of the genre, and it was really defiant of geography. Rotterdam’s Munchi found the sound and started making all kinds of tunes that defied the imagination. Diplo and the Mad Decent camp, the long-time pioneers of polyglot global rhythm in US dance music, started getting involved, too.
Moombahton started going from simple, slowed-down remixes to elaborate new productions. Before long, there was a special on BBC Radio 1 dedicated to showcasing the genre featuring Apt One‘s “Bells and Whistles.” NPR’s “All Things Considered” ran a piece. Soon, Nadastrom, Dillon Francis and others started getting tapped to do Moombahton remixes for various high profile releases.
A lot of Latino producers in the States and around the world found that they really related to the sound’s percussive Afro-Latin take on modern electronic music, and all of a sudden, you had what seemed to be an interesting wave of identity expression from first-generation Latinos. Maybe we’ll see more of that in the future, as Latinos become more firmly established as part of the American popular musical fabric; who
knows? In LA and Chicago, if you ask somebody, “Where is the craziest party going on in town?,” you’ll hear that it’s a packed warehouse rave in East LA or South Side full of first generation Latin-American kids dancing to Dutch House, Dubstep and now, Moombahton. At this point, the genre is slightly over a year old.
As for us, this has all been a pretty cool experience. We’ve put out a few EPs and have more in the works. Apt One’s main hustles are disco and funk edits, house and hip hop — so he likes to keep his Moombahton on the funky side of things. Skinny’s production is percussion heavy and laced with Dirty South rap vocals, and his Moombahton comes across just the same. It’s a new world with no rules, so as long as it has the beat, it’s Moombahton.
We’ve done tours around the country specifically booked to showcase Moombahton. But one thing we haven’t done is put on an event in Philadelphia specifically dedicated to Moombahton, rather than just playing it in small blocks at our other events.
This Thursday (tonight) at the Walnut Room, we’re formally presenting Moombahton to the 215 at our buddy Juanderful Juan‘s Tropicalismo party — one of Philly’s only events dedicated to showcasing Afro-Latin dance and electronic music. We’re bringing Obeyah and Uncle Jesse from DC and Baltimore, respectively to add extra flavor, and we are putting out a free companion EP of Moombahton jams just for the event.
TROPICALISMO MOOMBAHTON EDITION
w/ DJ Apt One & Skinny Friedman
Uncle Jesse (Unruly/Crossfaded Bacon, DC)
Juanderful (Pulsobeat, Phila)
16th and Walnut
$3 from 9-1030 w/ RSVP
$6 after 1030 w/o RSVP