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

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

Where’d the Beef?

No one does radio (by which I mean, audio storytelling) like Benjamen Walker. You may know him from his incarnations as the host of Your Radio Nightlight, Too Much Information, or Theory of Everything, which has recently become one of the flagship programs in PRX‘s new podcast network, Radiotopia. I feel very lucky to count

I’m Not a Harvard Man, I’m a Harvard, Man

I’m very pleased to report that I’ll be teaching full-time in the Music Department at Harvard this year, filling the big shoes of two ethnomusicolleagues on leave, Ingrid Monson & Richard Wolf. This is an honor and a pleasure, and even as a one-year non-renewable gig, it sure beats the adjunct beat I was walking

The Origin Story Is Genius Tho…

There’s an archived video of the panel I moderated last week during the Together fest. It begins with a six minute opening from me, then I introduce my esteemed co-panelists — Boima, Poirier, Ripley, Max, and Jesse — and we finally REALLY get into the convo about 10 minutes in. From there it’s a solid

Chombo Chursday b/w Paki Chulo

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

Is “Africa” “Actually” African?

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

Very African and Very Modern

As if there weren’t already enough to tease out about Konono N°1 and Congotronics, a recent article in the Guardian points to a song and video called “Karibu Ya Bintou” by Baloji, a Congo-born rapper who cut his teeth on the Belgian hip-hop scene but who has worked over the last few years to return

Tribal Greengo

I’m happy to announce, and not a moment too soon, that I’ve arranged some festive music for today. When I put together my first St. Patrick’s Day mix some years ago, it was an obviously tongue-in-cheek gesture. You might recall that I began with House of Pain before bringing in the romping stomp of the

Best African Dance Ever

So, yeah. There’s rearing; and then there’s rearing — Slightly older kids, well enculturated & irrepressibly motivated, can tend to take things to the next level, bumping body parts with acrobatic abandon and lighting rooftops (and laptops) on fire — Devotees of dancehall reggae and reggaeton will no doubt recognize elements of perreo and daggering

A Country That Was In Another Country

Since we’re back to the topic of the wide and contested world of reggaeton, it felt fortuitous to find in my inbox this morning a link to a new interview with Renato, Panamanian pioneer of reggae en español. With the effective prodding of Peter Szok, a history professor from Texas, Renato helps to further flesh

Dembow Criollo

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. Generally referred to as dembow (rather than reggaeton) — or dembow dominicano, to signal a certain national(istic) distinction — the Dominican artists and producers working in the style essentially

Global Reggae

Next week I begin teaching my second course at MIT. It’s a new syllabus, though it draws on certain materials I’ve used before. In contrast to previous offerings, however, this will be the first time I teach a class with a primary focus on reggae outside of Jamaica — on what I’m calling here “global

Musical Travels with Seymour and Bernice, pt. 2: Brazil

This is the second post in a sporadic series here at w&w, an ongoing excavation, digitization, and interpretation of my wife’s grandparents’ record collection — i.e., the historico-musical profile of Seymour & Bernice. See here for the previous entry, and here for a note remembering Seymour. Of the many delights I’ve come across in Seymour

Moombahton, Munchiton, & Related Reggaetony Ear Candy

a moomba, apparently — no relation to afrojack, i don’t think Reggaeton doesn’t die, it just continues to fragment and reconstitute in a thousand different ways. (Sorry about the passive language there — I don’t think reggaeton has viral/memetic agency, but I still find myself using that sort of shorthand/emphasis even when what I want

¿Sueños de Jerkbow?

Sometimes it really does feel like I’m in Oz, some Wizard behind a curtain producing lifelike YouTubes of my swirling musical obsessions — or like that cartoon kid Simon for whom the things he drew came true ¡ via via via con dios !

Acid Washed Genes

I’m thrilled that Joro-Boro is due to join us tonight for a little Beat Research. A few months ago, I received a fortuitous email from him, linking me to a new mix he’d put together, full of what he called his “favorite local dirty sounds” — a familiar if distinctive melange of polyrhythmic electronic dance

Nettles, Neighbors, and Nu World Music

I’ve received repeated requests to share the text I delivered in my pre-concert talk for the Nettle residency at Brandeis. It’s only taken me four months to post it here finally. Regular readers of this blog may find certain passages familiar; some are literally cut-n-pasted from posts here (where I do a lot of my

Pop Goes the World

There’s little I can add to all the tributes and reflections gumming up the web these days, but like so many others I feel compelled to say something. Inspired even. I found Andrew Sullivan’s and Jeff Chang’s posts pretty resonant, Jason King’s too, among others, and I’ve been particularly struck by all the MJ music

But I’m Not a Leprechaun

Longtime readers have heard on previous March 17s this here mini-mix of “trad” Irish beats and stompin electronic shuffle. For those of you looking for a little seasonal soundtrack, here you go again —       >> w&w “doctorin the guinness” (9 min / 9 mb)       [audio:] This should be especially resonant if, say, you’re on your

Music Unites Us, Gets Under Our Skins

I couldn’t be more thrilled to announce this — At a time when the arts community at Brandeis is feeling rightly beleaguered, it brings me no little satisfaction to know that we will be putting on a rather art-ful residency later this month, sponsoring the US premiere of such an exciting, provocative, and relevant group

Old (and Not So Old) Weird (and Not So Weird) America

We’re visiting Becca’s sister, her husband, and their 6-month-old twins in North Carolina this week. Initially drawn to Durham/Duke, Leila&Sebastian und Sasha&Max now live in a small-ish town called Burlington, in an old mill house they rebuilt themselves (with a little help from their friends). Yesterday, we escaped some rainy morning blues by heading to

Welcome to Brownsville

Former wunderkind hip-hop critic and now English prof at Vassar, Hua Hsu asks some great questions in his hot-off-the-press Atlantic cover story, itself a question, “The End of White America?” — What will it mean to be white after “whiteness” no longer defines the mainstream? Will anyone mourn the end of white America? I especially

Where Do I Begin (To Tell the Story)?

As long as we’re on the topic of “Arab Face” I’ve decided to dust off and finish up this post that’s long been sitting in my drafts folder. (It’s post #100, and I’ve recently published #400, if that’s any indication of how long it’s been on a backburner.) There are countless twisty, tangly stories of

Flag This: A Glance @ Google Nationalism

What can be gleaned by glancing at the first page of returns via Google Images for certain nations and their flags? I don’t know exactly, but I found the results fascinating enough to take several screenshots. I do like the play between a sort of repetitive stability and the occasional, odd (but telling) aberration, e.g.,

linkthink #519292: Loosing My Mind [sic]

Shaggy feat Trix & Flix – Feel The Rush | The Heatwave Blog – dancehall reggae and bashment “la cumbia cienaguera” of samim’s “heater” fame (and a hit in its own right in south america for decades) gets yet another odd reanimation via shaggy and the euro 08 football cup :: and round and round

linkthink #69377: Who Wants to Bet That Obama Becomes a Far More Common First Name Than Barack?

Berkman Center pioneers steer the course of cyberspace – gwaan charlie & co.! (tags: berkman harvard internet academia education activism charlie) DTLBASSTOWN.mp3 (audio/x-mpeg Object) crazed dance mix by dropthelime, as played recently @ basstown (tags: DJ mix mp3 house techno club remix boston) Energy Flash | Gas (director’s cut) simon reynolds on gas (wolfgang

Notes on Neighborhood

Although my research/interests often turn to (trans)nationalism, lately I’ve been thinking less about nationhood and more about neighborhood — not in terms of an actual space or place (though that’s part of it), but something more akin to neighborliness, to being a good neighbor, to finding an ethics of neighborhood in an intensively globalized/mediated era.

Hip-hop Japanthropology & the End of the Jews

Recently I brought two authors to campus to share their work with my class — that’s the only connection between the two otherwise disparate topics in the title of this post. (Hope I didn’t alarm anyone by implying improbable causal relationships.) … 1. The “hip-hop Japanthropology” was c/o Ian Condry, a professor at MIT who

Conversación Cumbia2.0 Continúa

thx to all for the continuing cumbia convo, esp those who have left comments and/or sent emails (is it telling that not all can be aired here?) i guess this stuff cuts close to the bone, but that’s how we like it here at w&w — jugando con fuego desde 2003! & thx to KG


For any readers whose curiosity was piqued by the conga videos in last night’s dump, allow me to provide a little more context via Lani Milstein, a NY-based ethnomusicubanist, who brought them to my attention — Just a shout out to say thanks for being such an eloquent writer on reggaetón. I’m working on

If That’s What You Mean

Mark Dery: Have you ever felt, as one of the few blacks writing SF, the pressure to write science fiction deeply inscribed with the politics of black nationalism? Samuel R. Delany: The answer there depends on what your question means. If you mean: Do I feel that, deep within my work, I’ve situated material that

Simon Says: I’m a Hipster?

Dang. I think Simon just referred to my blog as “hipster chatter.” Them’s fightin words, Reynolds. I mean, I’m sayin, I only own one belt and maybe 3 pairs of sneakers, tops. For serious tho, I’m very curious to know what constitutes hipsterism — for Simon and for others — at this moment in time.


Next week (Thursday, Oct 11, from 12:00pm – 1:45pm to be exact) I’ll be presenting at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association, being held this year in Philadelphia (at the Marriott, natch, which is offering a lovely “conference rate” of $200/night). I’m not so excited about the hotel deal, but I’m excited about

Tons o’ Tons, or Distributed Reading #5382

I tagged a “raï-ggaeton” video over at my linkythinky a while back. A bit o’ chutney-ton, too. Both seemed interesting to me as rather explicit examples of the localization of global pop (and rton in partic), if not terribly compelling as specific things &, yeah, rather steeped in the odor of novelty. That’s not the

The Webnography of Reggaeton Faultlines

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve gleaned lots of what I know ’bout the narratives swirling ’round reggaeton via the web, especially via the messageboard debates that flare up into all sorts of contested, conflicting accounts and claims. In that sense, I’ve maybe learned less about reggaeton’s history this way, per se, than about how people

Reggaeton’s Contempo Indexical Lexica

As I’ve argued before — and will be arguing next week in Mexico City — one can hear reggaeton’s embrace of tecno synths and “Latin” loops as an audible shift from (explicitly, sonically marking itself as) “música negra” to “reggaeton latino.” Such a change, I contend, corresponds to an attendant shift in the cultural politics

Nu Whirl Music, Blogged in Translation?

In a recent issue of the SEM Newsletter (March 2007, to be precise), Phil Bohlman addressed the issue of cultural translation and how it presents a paradox to ethnomusicologists — or perhaps more broadly, to those of us who mediate musical representations in myriad ways (including via links and mp3s): Should we understand our acts

Follow Me Now: The Zigzagging Zunguzung Meme

The text below was written in spring 2007 and delivered at EMP and IASPM. Since its initial publication, I have learned of many additional instances of the “zunguzung” meme, often thanks to readers. I will continue to update the tally at the end of the post, and searching “zunguzung” on this site will lead to

Teorí­as de la Dependencia

Sandra Garcia Rivera riffea re: William Carlos Williams y Miguel Luciano — The White Nike Sneaker so much depends upon a white Nike sneaker dyed in patriot blood sported by young Ricans

El Arte de Blin-Blin Politricks

Pictured above is a shot of Filiberto Ojeda Uptowns / Machetero Air Force Ones by visual artist Miguel Luciano, as featured in a show opening this Sunday, April 15, at Bard College. I’ve been an admirer of Luciano’s arresting approach since Raquel Rivera (who brought this latest project to my attn) sent me a digital

Dear Wayne #8353: JA inna US & UK

While we’re in a outsourcing mood here at w&w, allow we to offer up another recent q&a — Dear Wayne, Hope you’re well, This is a follow-up to an email that I sent last week regarding me possibly conducting an interview in the near future regarding the role of Jamaican styles in US and UK

Upside-Down International Sound

As I mentioned in the last post, I’m headed to London this week (tomorrow today actually!) to participate in a Caribbean music seminar at Royal Holloway College. I’m honored to have been invited to join in the proceedings, and I’m quite looking forward to the various papers, the broader conversation, and the feedback I hope

La Musica Negra (Hispana?)

Having read no small # of reggaeton messageboard debates (esp over ?s of nat’l origin), I’ve developed a decent sense, I’d like to think, of when someone hits a good # of signposts. The following gem is quite solid in that respect — myths, misspellings, elisions and omissions, grammatical and historical slippage notwithstanding. Econowhimsical prose,