Archive for February, 2012

February 28th, 2012

Google Glance: “Beauty”

h/t Ferrari Shepherd, aka @stopbeingfamous

thx to ferrari for the tip

When I tried, I saw this –

beauty
beauty
beauty
beauty
beauty

What do you see? (It changes all the time, and then again, it doesn’t.)

For more Google Glances, see here.

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February 28th, 2012

It’s Munchi Time!

Beat Research presents...

Tomorrow / today / whenever it is as you’re reading this — Tuesday Feb 28 marks both the release of Munchi’s Moombahtonista EP and as mentioned last week, his first appearance here in Boston, at none other than Beat Research! According to the opaque metrics at Zuckerborg, as I’m writing this some 56 registered users are “Going” to come thru, which is cool. I’m sure the place will pack up. It’s gonna be a special one, no doubt.

As I also mentioned, I gladly penned the notes accompanying the release of Munchi’s EP. It’s an odd job juggling promotion with what I think is also valued as my ability to be a critical observer, but I stand behind the text. (And I appreciate the affirmative nods.) Of course, I’m happy Munchi likes it — and that he thought of me to write it. I should give him some real credit too: he had lots of ideas, as always, and his own ability to articulate where he’s coming from is, I think, one of his greatest strengths as an internet-era artist. Anyway, you can judge for yourself (I added some links for fun):

Soon as the first moombahton edits hit the net, Munchi was ready. Slowing down Dutch house tracks to make mutant reggaeton made a lot of sense to a resident of Rotterdam with roots in the Dominican Republic. Munchi knew as well as anyone (and better than most) that Dutch house and reggaeton were kindred genres, each a skip and a jump away from dancehall reggae. He began cooking up his own moombahton that night, emerging with much more than another set of edits. Arguably the first originals of the genre, Munchi’s tracks were built from scratch, imbued with touches of baile funk, cumbia, kuduro, bmore, samba, breakcore and more. Unlike Dave Nada’s seminal edits or influential remixes by A-Mac, Uncle Jesse, and Melo making the rounds, Munchi could put his name on his tracks front and center. Blowing up the blogs, he proved himself prolific and popular almost immediately, releasing acclaimed promo packs by the pound and building a devoted audience.

By pursuing his own singular vision of what the genre could be, Munchi pointed the way — lots of ways actually — to move moombahton beyond surprisingly serviceable novelty remixes in order to make it a genuine genre. His cross-breeding fusions even birthed a substyle he dubbed moombahcore, a steroidal take on the sound that now boasts hundreds of its own adherents. After Munchi’s wildly successful experiments, moombahton became a lot more kitchen-sink. This EP collects the classics, marking the moment that Munchi blew the frame open. Club wreckers that set the stage for a wave of producers learning to love the space between the kicks, the place to wind your hips. You’ll find it all here: evocative samples, epic build-ups and drops, thick-ass drums, sudden jokes and, of course, that trademark jingle. It also features new twists on old bangers, like lacing “La Brasileña Ta Montao” with brand new vocals from Angel Doze, Munchi’s favorite reggaetonero, making it the first real meeting between moombahton and its Puerto Rican cousin.

I can’t seem to find a buy link for the dang thing yet [ok here it is], but for now, here’s a mini-mix preview, which has racked up 9000 plays in just 3 days –

Come hear the man live if you can. I’ve seen him in action. You gotta be ready.

Oh & nice EP art! Props for the totally understated use of boobs

Ok, one last time, here’s the deets for tonight / tmrw night (TUESDAY!):


TUESDAY – 2/28
BEAT RESEARCH
W/ SPECIAL GUESTS: MUNCHI & OXYCONTINENTAL
GOODLIFE
BOSTON
9-1
FREE

MUNCHI @ BEAT RESEARCH

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February 21st, 2012

Beat Research Turns 8 and Goes Beast Mode

It’s a little astounding that this March marks 8 years of Beat Research. In celebration, we’ve managed to line up quite a month+ of very exciting guests, from locally beloved to internationally renowned. Indeed, the next 6 sessions will feature no fewer than 3 local DJs, 3 acts from NYC, and a couple exciting visitors from across the pond — Rotterdam and Oslo, to be exact.

If you’re a Greater Bostonian, get ready to mark your calendars & experiment with party music that will boggle your behind and make your mind wiggle. Without further ado, check the crew coming thru —

Tuesday, Feb 21: Teleseen

teleseen @ beat research

Tonight we’re happy to present the return of Teleseen, up from Brooklyn (and until very recently, Rio). Given his dubby priorities, the Goodlife‘s subby system should suit. Teleseen put out an EP last year, Mandrake, full of woozy thumpers, and his remix of Maga Bo’s “Ransom” is a fixture in my sets when I’m in search of a little uneasy skanking. Last time Teleseen came through town he was working up a version of what finally became available (to all) as “Embarak,” which is good, because it meant I could stop asking him for it. Should be a vibes –

Tuesday, Feb 28: Munchi & Oxycontinental

We’re very pleased to announce that Beat Research will be hosting the Boston premiere of mighty Munchi! If you aren’t familiar with the moombahton wunderkind from Rotterdam, well, you haven’t been reading this blog, for one (or three or four). And you’ve clearly found other holes to stick your head down. Because Munchi — and moombahton — have totally been blowing up, turbo-boosted by the likes of Diplo and Mad Decent, Skrillex, and MTViggy.

W&W is proud to be a longtime champion of the kid (if not quite as early as Quam), so I was happy to oblige when Munchi asked me to pen the release notes for his upcoming EP for Mad Decent (dropping any day now), which rounds up what have now become classics of the young genre. I’ve seen Munchi live before, and it promises to be a blast. And as a special bonus, helping to warm things up with us will be a fine local stoker of fire: Oxycontinental, the party personaje of Jamaica Plains’ own Ricardo Delima.

Here’s an old, odd fave from Munchi that I still work into sets from time to time –

Tuesday, March 6: Old Money Massive

I can’t quite believe that the following week we again have the honor of hosting the local debut of a well renowned crew, Old Money Massive, straight outta NYC by way of Jamaica and Guyana. Readers of this blog should definitely be familiar with Old Money’s grimey, edgy take on so-called “global bass.” I still count “African Kids” as the unofficial (and reluctant / ironic) anthem of global ghettotech — that’s the dark twin of global bass, if you’re tuning in late.

So I couldn’t be happier that Old Money will be coming up to Boston — but not on a dollar van, I don’t think — to throw down a live performance and a DJ-style set. These guys deserve a lot more props for the special sound and fury they’re developing down there. We’re thrilled to share our humble but bassful platform, to be sure. For a taste of what’s in store, check out their debut EP, No.1 Champion Sound, over at iTunes. Or check the latest latest, posted to Soundcloud just two days ago –

Tuesday, March 13: DJ Day-Glo

Shorty is an iPod dancer.

Now, even though we’re so lucky as to be able to give space to illustrious out-of-town acts, Beat Research always holds it down for up-and-comers and loco locals of all sorts. On March 13, DJ Flack and I will be joined by a former student in Flack’s Beat Research class at MassArt: Kara Stokowsky, aka DJ Day-Glo, a JP-based multimedia artist whose work, according to her UNFINISHED WEBSITE, “tackles feminism, pop culture, memetics, religion, and technology with a fast-paced glitch aesthetic.” I suspect her current tumblr is a better indication of what you might hear than her slightly sparse and outdated Soundcloud. But do browse around, or just come on by.

Tues, March 20: DJ Super Squirrel

On March 20, we’ve got Cambridge’s own DJ Super Squirrel, an ethnomusicolleague and, in her own words, “Paper-writer, tiny-dancer, jargon-user, eight-armed DJ.” Her recent “Scamphall” mix — a little like a GirlTalk cookdown of upbeat reggae — has me looking forward to whatever else she might stew together that night:

Tuesday, March 27: Chief Boima

Finally, but hardly last, rounding out the month of March is none other than chief rocka Chief Boima. A longtime friend of W&W and Beat Research (not to brag or anything), Boima has really been picking things up since he relocated from the Bay to BK, including beginning grad studies at the New School, writing provocative and thoughtful pieces for Africa Is a Country and Cluster Mag, DJing all around town, and now, as of today, releasing his second album through Dutty Artz, African in New York. I’ve been playing Boima’s hip-hop remixes of African dance jams and African dance remixes of hip-hop jams for some years now, and it’s always a delight to hear the man doing it himself in the mix.

And while this may cap things off for Beat Research in March, it’s only the beginning of what is shaping up to be an exceptional year. We’re grateful to have the opportunity to put our thing and our friends on each week, and grateful for all the support, especially — when it comes down to it — to the people who put their bodies in the club and their feet on the floor. Happy 8 — here’s to many more!

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February 16th, 2012

Chombo Chursday b/w Paki Chulo

"gato volador"

Check it out, my micropublic: I’ve got another “Throwback Thursdays” post over at Okayplayer’s LargeUp blog. This time I’m waxing nostalgic about a song produced by none other than El Chombo –


Incluye el tema…

Veteran readers of W&W may remember El Chombo as the producer of the notorious “Chacarron,” a song which — back in my blogspot days — consumed a series of posts as I attempted to document in relative realtime my endeavor to discover the story behind the song.

I’m not quite ready to reminisce about “Chacarron,” however; rather my post turns to “El Gato Volador,” which I also once discussed on this very blog. Alas, the brilliant homemade slideshow that inspired that ol’ post has since disappeared, but the official video is still on the ‘Tube, and this gives me a chance to discuss the song in a little more detail. And quite a song it is.

"gato volador"

Here’s the frame:

While Panama is widely acknowledged as the birthplace of dancehall reggae en español, Puerto Rico gets credit for eating up the faithful versions of Panamanian artists like Nando Boom and El General and spitting out something more hip-hop laced and sample-based, as heard on the Noisy collages that made dembow loops the centerpiece of maratón mixtapes. But Panamanian producers deserve props of their own for developing and popularizing an equally distinctive and irreverent, sample-based approach to Spanish dancehall (though faithful approaches persist under the plena banner, sin duda).

Panama’s master of the style is El Chombo, aka Rodney Clark, a pretty Jamaican name, though the internet reports (very vaguely of course) that he was born in the US and moved to Panama in the late 70s as a youngster. None of these facts is remarkable in Panama, where people have been named Rodney Clark for a century (at the turn of the 20th, Panama was receiving 62% of all Jamaican emigrants), and where foreigners continually arrive, especially from the US in more recent times, drawn into Canal-related work as so many Caribbean migrants before them. “El Chombo” is also something dark-skinned people, especially Afro-Caribbean folk, have been called in Panama for a long time. El Chombo’s embrace of the term and intentional projection of blackness were central to his first mixtape series, Spanish Oil, which he was issuing annually in the mid-late 90s at the same time Playero and The Noise were circulating their seminal mixtapes. The reference to oil is, of course, a reference to blackness, and it’s telling that reggae in Panama was sometimes called petróleo in the 90s, not unlike melaza (molasses) in Puerto Rico.

But go ahead and click thru to hear about (and watch) El Chombo’s “unlikely hit ostensibly about a flying cat but also…a joke of a song that seems to offer meta-commentary on the state of the genre itself.”

"gato volador"

It should be said that these two songs — “Chacarron” and “El Gato Volador” — are obviously rather on the silly side, but El Chombo is also in his way a serious producer. Over the last decade he’s enjoyed quite a bit of success, and its remarkable that even his crossover hits (mainly in Latin American and European dance markets) bear the same trademark sampladelia, largely drawn from American crossover dance-pop.

His crown jewel in this regard (perhaps his flying cat?) is no doubt Lorna’s Dee-Lite sampling “Papi Chulo” (2003), the first reggaeton song to become an international hit, years before Daddy Yankee’s “Gasolina.” The song was a top ten hit in several European countries (#1 in France, #2 in Italy) and huge across Latin America. It’s really something of an underrated classic. (When I dropped it at Que Bajo a few years back, people went plátanos.)

So widespread is the song’s popularity that, among other spin-offs, it inspired a Pakistani cover which some, according to YouTube comments, even read as a pan-African gesture c/o “Makrani singer Younis Jani” (-Wikipedia). Makrani, I’m told (also by Wikipedia), is sometimes synonymous with “Siddi / Sheedi” (which is what one commenter calls Younis), which is also, far as I can tell, more-or-less Urdu for “El Chombo.” Now how do ya like that?

It's cool to checkout music&culture of different branches of the African diaspora

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February 13th, 2012

Reggae Reverberations, Skype Narration Stylee

Last month I spoke over Skype with Roifield Brown, a British-Jamaican producer working on a series of podcasts and a short film devoted to the international influence of Jamaica’s distinctive shapes and forms, or in his words: How Jamaica Conquered the World. It’s no doubt one of many many tributes to the likkle but tallawah nation in this 50th anniversary of independence from direct colonial rule.

The series will devote attention to sports and style and other dimensions of Jamaican culture inna outernational sphere, but obviously music — namely, reggae and its roots and routes — exerts irresistible force over such a project. With a promising list of shows planned, Roifield’s already spoken to some great commentators (including, I’m told, a two-hour conversation with Clevie just last week), and he’s in the midst of finishing the first few, including a segment on ska and rocksteady featuring yours truly, doing my best to tell the story of the emergence of Jamaican pop:

60’s Ska to Rock Steady by Roifield on Mixcloud

Wait for the mini-megamix of Dawn Penn re-rubs at the end!

I love that Roifield is putting this together himself and using everyday tech like Skype to make it possible. Sure, there’s already nuff documentation out there on Jamaican music and culture, but as long as there’s too much to know, we may as well keep asking questions, telling stories, making media, and filtering the best forward (while maintaining the richest archive we can). I’m sure Roifield’s series will offer some crucial contributions to the wider set of stories about Jamaica’s powerful presence in the world.

It helps, to be sure, in putting together these little radio-like shorts, that Roifield also happens to be a demonstrably wicked producer of tracks himself (sometimes under the name Daddys Boy). When he first got in touch I followed a few links to the garridgey roller below and proceeded to hound him for a hi-bit version, though I started rocking an ol 128k right away just because I had to — and to a strong response here in Boston! Not bad contemporary resonance for a track cooked up years ago –

Big up, Roifield. Large up, Jamaica! Gwaan gwaan–

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February 10th, 2012

Is “Africa” “Actually” African?

africa

Africa Is a Country, a wry but passionate blog devoted to “Africa” — the idea, not (simply) the song — in contemporary media (but “not about famine, Bono, or Barack Obama”) has been threatening to make a weekly series out of the genuinely remarkable resonance of Toto’s 1982 soft-rock anthem. It’s a begrudging tribute of sorts to the song’s “resilience as a piece of media about Africa.” Did you know that in addition to dozens of covers, which they promise to feature, the song is also popular sampling fodder for hip-hop producers (among them, Madlib)?

It promises to be entertaining, whether or not you can withstand the earworm. This week they pointed to a new appearance of what they’re calling “the Toto ‘Africa’ meme” courtesy of r&b crooner Jason Derulo, which, I have to admit is both “inane” as they note over there and a pallid by-the-numbers attempt to reproduce the feel and form of “Watcha Say,” his debut single and highest charting song (it hit #1).

I can’t help but be reminded of a strange and oddly apropos discovery about Toto’s “Africa” I made a few years ago, which may be of passing interest to some of you, especially fellow followers of Africasacountry.

africa

Here’s how it happened: my dear friend and colleague, Sharon, is a doctoral student in anthropology who studies the transmission of traditional Malian dance, especially in transnational contexts. A longtime trad-African dancer herself, she has studied and danced in Mali, the US, and France. Anyway, long story semi-short, when Sharon was getting hitched a few years back she asked me whether I might help her arrange some music for her reception (an awesome & lively affair, full of drums and dance, in which a young & chubby Nico got to prance about with the august & strikingly spry Dr. J. Lorand Matory).

Her idea was to take one of the common rhythms from the Malian repertory and mash it up with some pop or hip-hop tracks that employ the same patterns. The idea was suggested to her by the fact that her local teacher, Joh Camara, himself would reference Will Smith’s “Gettin Jiggy Wit It” as a sort of mnemonic device when introducing students to the didadi rhythm. You know, the na-na-na-na-nana-nah bit. You can hear it pretty clearly in this performance I turned up on the ‘Tube (esp between 0:40 and 1:00):

This seemed like a fun task, especially given how much I love tracing patterns across different repertories. But after a few days of intense humming along to myself and attempting to trigger things in the recesses of musical memory, I had come up with relatively little. However, while I had only located a couple tracks that make reference to the rhythm, I had seemingly stumbled across an almost incredible possibility: that Toto’s “Africa,” which seemed like one of the least African songs I could imagine, might actually be based around an actual African rhythm. (And I use actual there twice because it’s a magic word, like Africa.)

Here’s what I shared with Sharon:

I have to confess that I’ve found it rather challenging to think up other songs that employ the same rhythm(s) as Didadi (aside from the tight fit that is “Gettin Jiggy Wit It”). Been racking my musical memory, which has led to some false leads and close fits, but nothing else — until this afternoon — save for a funny refrain from a Cypress Hill song (“la la la la la la la la” in “Hand on the Pump”).

Funny enough — actually I think you may find this discovery fascinating — as I was trying once more this afternoon to think of other songs that might match (and I’m being fairly exacting in wanting a good match — a direct rhythmic overlay), I started humming the rhythm to myself: buh-duh-duh-duhduh-duh-duh. Eventually a vaguely familiar bassline / chord progression emerged from my murky brain. I couldn’t place it, though, and couldn’t remember any words, so I just sang along with the melody until I reached the chorus, where, I hoped, I might remember a single Googlable word. When I got there, I was stunned: the word was “Africa” and the song, natch, “Africa” by Toto! What a hilarious coincidence! I have no idea whether the group was intentionally figuring Africa with that rhythm — it’s never sounded very African to me, but it sure does now!

Anyhow, I’m afraid that means I have only turned up 3 songs that use the same rhythm(s) as Didadi. And two of them are quite cheesy. But this is all in good fun, right? Anyhow, see attached and tell me what you think. For now, I’ve chosen to leave Joh’s performance unedited, so you hear the entire ~2:00 rendition that he gave us, the full arc, including all his variations and the general accretionary/crescendoing dynamic. If that works for you, that’s cool. If not, we can do some editing. Just let me know what you think. It’s easy enough to loop any of the measures he plays or to cut something here or add something there. I could extend any of the songs mashed with the drums, or shorten them, or change their order. I could also change the tempo so that it is faster or slower or gets faster over time (Jo does gradually get faster, and that’s one change I’ve made: now he stays at the same tempo, which helped me to mash/match things up).

Now, judging by this Wikipedia entry and it’s detailed accounts by members of Toto of the way the song came together, it sounds like the guys in Toto might have more or less entirely stumbled upon this felicitous rhythmic concordance. Meter minutiae aside (however fascinating), I find this quotation from drummer Jeff Porcaro most pregnant:

… a white boy is trying to write a song on Africa, but since he’s never been there, he can only tell what he’s seen on TV or remembers in the past.

At any rate, you can imagine the bizarro eureka moment as I pulled that schmaltzy tune out of some dark corner of my mind. As for the main keyboard riff’s Africanness, you’ll have to decide for yourself. Here’s the “mashup” I sent to Sharon (which, suffice to say, was a little too goofy to work for the wedding):

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

I hear the drums echoing. Do you?

africa

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February 6th, 2012

Old Electrical Boxes & Other Rituals

We’ve got another promising Boston premiere this week (that’s Tuesday 2/7) at Beat Research.

Ekip Ritual is an ongoing collaboration between “nordestino” electro-percussion wiz, Kiddid, and Brazilian reggae/alt-pop vocalist Massarock. Drawing on soundsystem culture, Afro-Brazilian rhythms, and pop music sensibilities, the duo ride the “global bass” wave with aplomb.

Listen, say, to “Caixas Elétrica Antigas” (that’s “Electrical Boxes Old” according to Google), an apt title given the vintage gleam on the percussion that propels it:

Another strong offering, “Arroxa na Ecuridão,” shows that the vintage-contempo combo goes well beyond gimmickry —

Indeed, Kiddid has been going pretty deep into some of these sounds recently. Much of what you hear in the tracks above — despite an uncanny resemblance to time-honored beat-boxes — are sounds and (virtual) instruments he made himself. A longstanding passion and more recently a vocation, Kidid has been working for Puremagnetik for the past year, designing instruments for Live, Logic, and Kontakt, including his first big project, released last month: modeled after the Yamaha DX7, the DeeEx offers access to some classic-sounding 80s-esque synthesis. Apparently, he’s also just finished a project using the Operator and Analog synths and his designs are being considered for inclusion in Ableton Live 9.

As someone who’s been using Kiddid’s killer tracks as secret weapons for years now, none of that last paragraph comes as a surprise. But it sure whets my appetite for tomorrow’s show! Yours too? If so, you know where to find us –

Good Life Bar
28 Kingston St.
Boston
9pm-1am
FREE

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February 3rd, 2012

Mega Uh-Oh

I’ve got a piece in this week’s Boston Phoenix discussing the spectacular shuttering of Megaupload and the collateral damage produced by an increasingly aggressive copyright regime in tandem with a remarkable nonchalance about preserving the digital libraries we build. Some will recognize this as but the latest instance of platform politricks, just another rug yanked out from under folks tryna dance with each other. (Though it looks like another series of SoundClowns may be on its way!)

Anyway, check it out and tell me what you think. Shouts to Carly Carioli for reaching out about the piece and, along with Sara Rosenbaum, helping to whittle it down into something pretty darn sharp, if I say so.

As for this space, allow me to share a few linked-up grafs below that ended up on the cutting room floor, as well as some germane and entertaining media:

As with its predecessors, the sudden shuttering of Megaupload leaves a whole lot of holes in the e-ther. Among other random disappearances to tick across my timeline: the only copy of a personal video a friend’s father had recently stored there; and the sole upload of Nehru Jackets, the acclaimed new mixtape from Himanshu Suri of Das Racist (at least until a few hours later, as Suri’s supporters quickly re-upped the zipfile to similar sites). No doubt thousands of other innocent files were disappeared on January 19, but none are likely to get their day in court.

Of course, it’s hard to sympathize with anyone who’s thinking is so clouded that they would entrust their only copy of something to a service that explicitly warned, in both its ToS and FAQ, of the possibility of complete data loss (with no liability on their part). And it’s even harder to sympathize with Kim Dotcom, the cartoonish founder of Megaupload. So apparently full of money, food, and hubris is Dotcom that Hollywood could hardly hope to cast a better villain. Indeed, few embody the foreign rogue in the crosshairs of SOPA and PIPA as well as Dotcom with his extravagant nose-thumbing at the MPAA and RIAA – never mind prior convictions for computer fraud, insider trading, and embezzlement.

But if Dotcom comes across as an odious parasite, it’s telling that many seem to prefer him as their middleman over more established gatekeepers. In the weeks before it was shut down, Megaupload had been getting under the skin of the recording industry not simply because of piracy; rather, the site was becoming a special thorn in the side because some of the industry’s marquee artists were publicly endorsing it. A promotional song and video (see below) featuring testimonials from the likes of Kanye West, will.i.am, Lil Jon, and Sean Combs began to make the rounds, as did rumors that producer Swizz Beatz had become CEO of the company. In the wake of the raid, Busta Rhymes took to Twitter to defend Swizz Beatz and Megaupload alike, arguing that the site offered a more promising and direct revenue stream to artists than Spotify.

Even if Megaupload was an obvious target, that doesn’t make it easier to hear the pathetic giant paper-crumpling sound of thousands of non-infringing files disappearing behind a JPG of an eagle carrying a bad pun in its talons. As the chilling effects spread to similar sites, one has to wonder whether Megaupload’s demise heralds the beginning of the end of yet another functional but far too ad-hoc system for sharing media with each other.

And just in case you can’t appreciate the logo on the right up there, here it is a little more up close, deconstructing its own silly self and making a mockery of our supposedly noble National Bird –

Actually, as the title of my piece implies, the real National Bird looks more like this –

Screen shot 2012-02-03 at 11.44.31 AM
Screen shot 2012-02-03 at 11.44.44 AM
Screen shot 2012-02-03 at 11.44.56 AM

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Wayne&Wax

I'm a techno-musicologist, internet annotator, imagined community organizer.

I left my <3 in the digital global, but I reside in Cambridge, MA, where I'm from.

I represent like that.

wayne at wayneandwax dot com

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