Dissolve Music, Again

Next week I’ll help kick off a 3-day “spatial sound” festival at MIT’s Black Box theater as one of about 20 acts diffusing sound/music through a 360-degree soundsystem powered by d&b audio. (My own set will probably be from ~9-9:30pm on Wednesday, Feb 19.) No doubt the performances will run the gamut as far as […]

Read More →
Social Dance in the Age of (Anti-)Social Media

A few years ago I started teaching a class at Berklee called “DJ Cultures and American Social Dance.” We survey the history of social dance across the Americas, with particular attention to the era of DJing, but we try to place that cultural turn within the long-view of how dance has functioned in different societies, […]

Read More →
Writing for Pitchfork

I started contributing to Pitchfork last year, and I just want to flag the reviews here. (You’ll also find them collected at the Journalism & Criticism page.) I meant to do so sooner, but my WordPress had gotten pretty gnarly over the last couple years. Anyway, back in business! So far, I’ve only reviewed reggae […]

Read More →
Wave Count

MIT’s Stefan Helmreich and I have collaborated on a mega-mix of music that evokes or otherwise represents ocean waves. Building on Stefan’s anthropological work with ocean scientists and my ideas about telling musical stories musically, this mix carefully stitches together 70 pieces in a 3 movement, 44 minute montage. The pieces were composed between 1830-2018 […]

Read More →
Why 7 Rings Rings So Many Bells

This month’s New York magazine features a set of articles about popular music today and why questions of plagiarism seem to dog so many hit songs. I was happy to contribute an article teasing out the controversies around Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings” by taking a musicological deep-dive into the disputed musical figure in question, a […]

Read More →
Representing Dembow Dominicano

As I wrote back in 2011, If I were writing my mega-essay on reggaeton today, I’d want to make a lot more space for the Dominican Republic’s local take on the genre. And that has only gotten truer in the 8 years since, as Dominican dembow has continued to grow, change, and gather steam, including […]

Read More →
AfrodiasporaPOP!

In October, I spoke to Rolling Stone (always wanted to say that!) about how, in their words, “reggaeton, dancehall, baile funk, afrobeats and other diasporic styles are mixing faster than ever — without much help from the U.S. music industry.” The topic has been a sustained thesis on this blog and in my work, of […]

Read More →
Ich kann ein bisschen Reggaeton verstehen

ila, a German magazine devoted to Latin America published a special issue on reggaeton this summer, including an interview with yours truly. If you kann ein bisschen Duetsch lesen (like those of us who studied vergleichende Musikwissenschaft in graduate school), then you can click on that link in the last sentence and read it there. […]

Read More →
Me & Moortje in Aruba!

Can’t believe it took me four years to track this down, but I was happy to finally find footage of an interview I did alongside DJ Moortje with Revolt TV while in Aruba back in 2014. The interview appears to have been incorporated into Revolt’s special on the Electric Festival where we were both speaking […]

Read More →
Prisma Tropical Liner Notes

As I mention below, I’ve been a Balún fan for over a decade, so I was utterly thrilled when the band wrote to me earlier this year and asked if I would write the liner notes for their stunning new album, Prisma Tropical. It was a dream(pop) assignment, especially since it’s their best work to […]

Read More →
More Re:ggaeton

The “Despacito” effect continues. That is to say, I continue to receive media inquiries about reggaeton a good year after the song’s triumphant run. And while I’ve started to get a little tired of the same questions, this newfound enthusiasm over and curiosity about reggaeton has also resulted in some cool invitations and some strong […]

Read More →
Listening to the Sound of Culture

Last summer I was invited by Small Axe, a journal I have long wanted to write for, to take part in a book discussion of Louis Chude-Sokei’s engrossing, ambitious The Sound of Culture: Diaspora and Black Technopoetics. I’ve enjoyed Chude-Sokei’s perspectives on dancehall, Nigerian 419 scammers, and Bert Williams for years, and I was already […]

Read More →
Get on the Good Foot

The following piece was published in December 2016 in The Wire‘s special issue, Spirits Rejoice: Sacred Songs, Divine Drones, and Ritual Rhythms (#394). I was excited by the call for pitches because I’ve been connecting lots of dots in my music history courses at Berklee between sacred and secular traditions, and I’ve become more and […]

Read More →
Música Negra to Pop Reggaeton

I think the jury’s still out on whether the so-called “Despacito effect” will translate into a sustained presence of Spanish-language hits in the Hot 100, in regular radio rotation, on top-level pop playlists (and not just reggaeton / Latin ones), and so forth. I’m sure the “YouTube factor” will continue to make these decisions increasingly […]

Read More →
¡Antigua Vaina!

This mix amplifies the resonances between the music of 19th century composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk and the bedrock rhythm of reggaeton and a great deal of recent pop music — a/k/a, dembow. As much a tribute to Gottschalk’s faithful fantasias as to the numerous architects of dembow aesthetics, we hear in their juxtaposition how one […]

Read More →
Further Adventures in Technomusicology

And on we go! Having conducted a few more sessions of Technomusicology this past spring and summer — about which, more below — I’m happy to report that I’ll be offering the class again next semester, Spring 2018, at the Harvard Extension School. As always, anyone is welcome to join us if you have the […]

Read More →
Everything You Wanted to Know About Despacito — and More!

“Despacito” has proven to be an amazing platform for Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, Justin Bieber, reggaeton, and now … me. Since April, I’ve been contacted by people looking for an explanation of how this song has proven so spectacularly successful, and whether I wanted to or not, I found myself having to think about it […]

Read More →
Another Crunk Genealogy Turns 10

Hard to believe, but my ol’ mix, Another Crunk Genealogy, was published 10 years ago today. It’s been up all this time (along with the other 49) — and indeed, I welcome any newcomers to peruse the detailed notes and FruityLoops demos here — but I’ve just posted it to Soundcloud to let it circulate […]

Read More →
Still Bubbling After All These Years

I’m headed back to Amsterdam this week to attend the ADE where I’m excited to be a part of the screening of a new documentary on bubbling. Check out your boy the beatboxing talking head! the film will have English subtitles, and hopefully will be widely available before long I can’t say how humbled and […]

Read More →