Archive for March, 2009

March 29th, 2009

Sunday Morning Videyoga

c/o some frens around the ‘osphere, a couple transnational texts for yr viewing pleasure —

first, from @ripley, my favorite musical meme rears its head once again, thus time in a mid-90s Swedish rave-pop setting!? sez rip:

note the ZUNGUZUNG at 1:04! [Leila K.]’s of Moroccan descent but from Sweden & this song was number one in sales in Europe in the 90s

#1 in sales un Europe in the 90s?! Can anyone confirm this? That would be surprising in itself, and it would make for yet another rather significant instantiation — if an oddly tuneless one — of Yellowman’s well-propelled vocables

second, from @nila, my source for sepia mutiny of all sorts, is this bit of “desiton,” a track which very clearly riffs on Yankee’s “Gasolina” gallop with its 32nd-note stutter-step synthline —

keep em coming, kids! &thx, as always..


March 29th, 2009

Birds of a Feather, Aliens Together

Charlie @ 2 days old in one of our fave Will Heron onesies —

Nico @ 3 days old, sporting the same —


March 24th, 2009


Charlie Nesson Marshall, born 24 March 2009, 4:55 am, 7 lbs and 14.2 ozs

Mother and daughter are doing well; Nico seems curious & amused about her sudden sister.

Dad is downright delighted, as you can see.

& dog tired. G’night!


March 23rd, 2009

Hungry Hosts

photo by Max Shay for The Hoot

Nettle’s residency at Brandeis — a series of revelations for yrs truly — is now over, but we’re not done hosting geography-defying beatbreakery just yet. Tonight at Beat Research, we’re celebrating our 5th anniversary (!) with the help of Grey Filastine, pictured above playing percussion with Nettle, who’ll be bringing his searing solo act to the Enormous Room.

Filastine is on tour at the moment to promote his new album, Dirty Bomb (get it), a sizzling mix of polyglot beat-heat from nearly every corner of the (post)world. I could start naming all the places he’s been and people with whom he’s collaborated, but Filastine does a great job of that himself over at his lively log, where he’s been explaining how he made a dirty bomb.

Take for example the story of “Hungry Ghosts” (made in Japan!), whose instrumental already haunts /Rupture’s Uproot. Or take, at a low-ish bitrate and for a limited time, the full vocal version, which speaks for itself —

     >> Filastine (feat. Wire MC & ECD), “Hungry Ghosts”

If ur in the area, join us this evening to celebrate 5 years of Beat Research while getting yourself utterly twisted by Filastine’s bracing, bedazzling, border-free beats!


March 19th, 2009

Ivory Ticklish

1 comment

March 17th, 2009

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)

This should be especially resonant if, say, you’re on your way to Harvard Square today to party with House of Pain at their swank sneaker launch.

Ah, ethnic self-fashioning in the age of hot kicks.

HOUSE OF PAIN / ADIDAS Sneaker Collaboration Trailer from Peter Dudgeon on Vimeo.


March 16th, 2009

Real Talk, Lads

So, yeah, inundated by mixes, but finally got a chance to check out last month’s Rinse FM set by Butterz (ft. Terror Danjah), which shows grime (& its bastard cousin, dubstep) alive&well & wot-u-call-it as ever.

Comfortably contentious even! Esp w/ the notion that grime might be less than alive & well.

I love the moment at ~17min, during Durrty Goodz’s bracing “Grime Killers” (which assails “fake journalists” “talking bout ‘grime is dead'”) [currently streaming here], when you hear what sounds like a phone exchange on the radio. Cueing the listener to pay special attn, Butterz interjects, “Yeah, this is what I’m talking about.” We hear a classic bit of pseudo-socio-psychology (sampled from a radio talk show, it appears), blaming grime and other popular pursuits for the corrupt condition of “kids these days” (actually “young black men and women,” accding to one commentator).

Butterz offers cutting running commentary on the condescending hand-wringing —

caller: why is it that all these young rappers who are writing lyrics and poetry can’t even be successful in english?

butterz: coz they want to do grime, idiot!

caller: they’re writing poetry for goodness sake!

butterz: not poetry, bro.

He commends another caller bigs up himself (!) for “real talk” (a hip-hop expression, signified pon by the well-Bri’ish “lads”) during an attempt to explain by indicting teachers for not capturing youths’ imaginations as popular culture does (“either sport or rappin”), noting that young people “aren’t looking for sustainable careers.”

What I love most, though, is “not poetry, bro.” This gets at a longstanding pet-peeve of mine among hip-hop apologists — and that includes hip-hop scholars and conservative critics alike. I’m afraid that a number of hip-hop scholars have wrongly affirmed the language of elitist legitimacy in their projects to validate the genre (this was more a problem in the 90s than this decade). Describing rap as “street poetry” always struck me as worse than inadequate (even if a truism sometimes spoken by my favorite rappers).

Butterz resists the conservative critique that follows the reified/received wisdom that rap is poetry (whether in hip-hop or grime) precisely because he doesn’t want to cede that ground of critique to conservative critics. Grime is grime. English is English. Poetry is poetry. Maths is maths. Yuzimi? Don’t reduce grime’s particularity to some primitive version of what is recognized by the broader society and keepers of the canon. Chant dem dung. Brush them off. Tek weh yuself.

Real talk, lads. But build them sustainable careers, seen? We wanna keep on listening across the pond.


March 13th, 2009

Cri’ical Feory

You’ve seen these already, but I can’t resist the juxtaposition —


March 11th, 2009

Mix, A Lot

With their latest greatest up-to-the-timeness (actually, an overview of 08), the Heatwave remind me that I should really bring more of the many mixes I enjoy to yr attn.

These days, and for the last several years really — ever since the rise of the mp3/blog mix (h/t L-R?) — I listen to music mainly in mixed form. I download mixes at the rate of about one per day (though it feels like more than that). They range anywhere from 15 minutes to 2.5 hrs and from genre-hopping/mashing exercises to downright “purist” explorations of a particular style, subgenre, or artist.

Mixes are like little worlds to themselves, opening up for me to enter and inhabit. I enjoy the way they can transport me like that — especially when walking, driving, and cooking.

Although I do a great deal of tagging and annotating and sharing my web wanderings, I don’t take the time/effort to shed some shine on every mix I dig. But I wish I did. So here’s an attempt to call attn to a few faves from the last month/year that have caught my ear and remain on rotation —

  • Timeblind’s Flora had my earbuds on lock for much of the winter. Centered on dubsteppy sounds, but ranging into reggae, hip-hop, and some srsly off-kilter techno, among others, it somehow suited early evenings and long nights.
  • So did Lone Wolf’s Nightwind, released last spring and still holding a precious spot on my not-so-spacious 4gb iPhone. (For the record, though, I think I most enjoyed it mid-morning on a coffee buzz.) Full of trancey hip-house&b bangers mixed up and sloooooooooooowed down, the tracks keep opening up in unexpected ways. (If ur into “screwed oddities,” you might also like this.)
  • More recently, I’ve been really getting into all the house and techno coming out of (or filtered thru / inspired by) Africa, especially South Africa. Check Spoek Mathambo’s H.I.V.I.P. (!) mixes (here and here) for wonderfully weird refractions off the global disco ball. Also well worth your time: DJ Zhao’s Ngoma 2 and 3, as well as the “obscurer” followup mix it elicited from DJ Deep. (If you haven’t heard Zhao’s sui generis Fusion 1 btw, it’s absolutely arresting in its old “world” meets nu-whirled aesthetic.) One final tip of the cap to Zhao for pointing me to this DJ Cndo track, which says “funky” house its own awesome way and makes me wish for a South African house invasion.
  • I’ve also been enjoying funky house per se, esp the epic Marcus Nasty sets for Rinse FM and 1extra, this excellent intro/overview by Dj OneDrop, and last but beast, Grievous Angel’s recent radio rip. (Speaking of which, if totally tangentially, don’t miss DJ /Rupture’s NYC radio mambo violento set, remastered and reblogged here.)
  • Finally, far as spotlights go, I wanna shine a lil light on Nicholas Jaar’s recent mix for Air Drop Records. Talk about funky house! What really grabs me about this one, though, is the constant presence of samples from all over the place, especially horns, voices, and percussion — good “earthy” sounds. They add a great deal to the musical and affective texture, especially in contrast to the more mechanical sounding synthwerk, and Jaar does a very nice job weaving them in and out over some smooth-but-bumpy mnml-ish grooves. Sound design indeed!

Finally, just to illustrate/document my willy-nilly collection of mixes (and point you in further directions), here’s a list of all the ones I’ve downloaded since Jan 1 2009, in whatever random order resulted from copying&pasting out of my finder. Google em if ur curious, most should still be up somewhere —
teleost – process part 122.mp3
subfm mix feb 2009 (Timeblind).mp3
Rinse FM – Blackdown & Dusk (29-01-2009).mp3
playa blanca mixtape.mp3
Pandai’a Studio Mix (Feb 09).mp3
nzzustamixx Ruffull.mp3
noah gibson – process part 121.mp3
Moulay El-Hassan_ Essaouira.mp3
Mishka presents Keep Watch Vol.
Luny Tunes Presents Calle 434 (2009).rar
kid kameleon – nse 12.28.08.mp3
Fairtilizer 24798 – UMB – GLOBAL GHETTOTECH.mp3
Cumbias con bass.mp3
Butterz Ft. Terror Danjah – 13-02-09 –
FACT Mix 30 – Joakim (Feb 09).mp3
djmicron- intertwined mix 10JAN2009.mp3
VA – I Ride on Gilded Spinners
Actionable Flattery
baile funk ol skoolmix.mp3
auratheft – Oceans 11. Jamaican Soul Jazz Originals. Volume II.mp3
Afrocan House Mix.mp3
Adelaide Deep.mp3
dj zhao – NGOMA VOL. 2.mp3
dj zhao – NGOMA 3_ Zulu House, Afro Electro, UK Funky.mp3
Dj Sin-Cero – Presenta Guelo Star La Pelicula Viviente ((The Oficial Mixtape)) (2009).rar


March 11th, 2009

Balls of Steele

how u like me now off the hook in the facebook with the twittering in urban/suburban hip-hop settings?

GQ: do you have a favorite [rap act]?

Steele: P. Diddy I enjoy quite a bit.

GQ: Do you want to rethink that?

Steele: [laughs] I guess I’m sorta old-school that way. Remember, I came of age with the DJ and all this other stuff, so I’m also loving Grandmaster Flash, and that’s not hip-hop, but… Um, you know, I like Chuck D. And I always thought Snoop Dogg was–he just reminded me of the fellas back home. So I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed him.

Emphasis mine, not that it needs any.

1 comment

March 10th, 2009

Cajas Pequeñas

thx again, lmgm

Like I try to do with most fruits of my labors, I’m liberating some recent words of mine here (shhh!), composed last week for a relatively well-consulted (by music grad students?) music “dictionary.” It’s likely that none of you will read them otherwise, not that you’d necessarily want to. (I’ve received requests to share, however, having tweeted about the inherent challenges.)

Boiling down any subject into so few words seems an intrinsically painful, reductive enterprise. At the same time, it’s also a semi-enjoyable task in the way that any thing which challenges you can be.

I was asked to write a 500 word description of reggaeton and 200 word profiles of Daddy Yankee, Don Omar, Ivy Queen, and Tego. I agreed for a few reasons. For one, the challenge. For two, the relative (and I mean RELATIVE) prestige of contributing to a widely recognized publication. For three, and this is the most important: because I care a lot about representations of reggaeton, esp how the genre animates rather heated debates about national/racial/ethnic identity.

That said, I don’t know to what extent these encyclopedia entries will have any impact at all on how people think about and tell the stories of reggaeton. Our (very!) forthcoming book is a lot more likely to be read. But these may have a greater chance of “getting out there” now that I’ve put them on the web. (Wha gwaan, Wikimaniacs?)

At any rate, here they are. Don’t hate me p/q I’m concise. I HAD TO BE. Why don’t you give it a shot? Edited and alternate versions invited in the comments ;) PLZ STICK TO WORD COUNT —


Although some dispute the national character of the genre, reggaeton is most frequently represented as a Puerto Rican and, increasingly, pan-Latino fusion of hip-hop and dancehall reggae. Featuring lyrics in Spanish and propelled by a modified reggae rhythm referred to as the “dembow,” the genre also travels in the form of a suggestive, sexualized dance called “perreo.” In 2004-05 reggaeton performers such as Daddy Yankee and Don Omar scored chart-climbing hits on US and international pop charts, bringing widespread attention to a genre that had been growing in popularity since the early 1990s, especially in Puerto Rico and New York City.

Origin narratives acknowledge the crucial role played by Panamanian vocalists, among the first to record reggae songs in Spanish. The music of Jamaica infused the Panamanian soundscape via descendants of late nineteenth and early twentieth century Anglo-Caribbean labor migrants to Central America who maintained cultural and family ties to the island. By the late 1970s, groups such as Franco y Las 4 Estrellas were performing Spanish-language versions of contemporary reggae songs. For all the continued engagement with reggae in Panama, however, such influential Panamanian avatars of dancehall reggae “en español” as Nando Boom and El General made many of their most popular recordings in New York City, working with Jamaican musicians and producers, typically translating the lyrics of contemporary reggae hits while employing the same (or re-recorded) rhythm tracks as the Jamaican originals.

While such recordings circulated widely among Spanish-speaking audiences in New York, the records resonated especially strongly with young Puerto Ricans, both in the city and on the island. Taking as a template the pioneering productions by Panamanian performers, Puerto Rican DJs and producers, including DJ Negro and DJ Playero, employed excerpts from the instrumental versions of these recordings to support performances by Puerto Rican vocalists. Initially a live practice, these sessions, in which a series of rappers declaimed over a shifting sonic accompaniment sampled from the hip-hop and reggae hits of the day, started to circulate as “mixtapes,” copied and passed hand-to-hand after an initial dubbing of a few dozen copies.

During the 1990s the Spanish-language mix of hip-hop and reggae produced in San Juan was alternately known as underground (or under), melaza (molasses), dembow (after the Shabba Ranks recording, “Dem Bow,” a frequent sample source for producers), and sometimes simply hip-hop or reggae. Occasionally it was called “música negra,” bearing witness to the racial cultural politics expressed by an embrace of hip-hop and reggae. The term reggaeton became dominant shortly after the turn of the millennium, around the same time that producers and performers sought to market the music to a broader audience, packaging recordings in the form of singles and albums rather than mixtapes and infusing the “dembow” beat with pan-Latino musical signifiers from salsa to bachata to cumbia. The great hope of the Latin music industry, reggaeton remains a grassroots phenomenon, embraced and localized across Latin America.

DON OMAR (William Omar Landrón), b. 10 Feb 1978

Puerto Rican vocalist Don Omar is one of the few reggaeton performers to enjoy success on US pop charts and airplay on MTV. Raised fatherless in an impoverished area of San Juan, a subdivision of Santurce called Villa Palmeras, Omar spent his late teens working as a youth pastor and singing in church choirs (including a group called the Christian Rappers). After leaving the ministry and turning to reggaeton, Omar built a following through live performances and appearances on mixtapes, distinguishing himself through his gruff voice and melodic rapping. Recruited by popular duo Héctor y Tito as a ghostwriter, Omar caught the attention of Juan Vidal, president of VI Music, who offered him an album deal. Omar’s first single, “Dale Don Dale” (2002), became a huge hit among reggaeton audiences. In 2005, his chart-topping song, “Reggaeton Latino,” symbolized the genre’s ascendancy to mainstream visibility and refigured reggaeton as a pan-Latino product. Omar often employs Christian symbols in his music and videos, and his themes reach beyond braggadocio to serious topics from suicide to AIDS. His 2006 album, King of Kings, debuted at #7 on the Billboard 200, the highest appearance by a reggaeton album to date.

DADDY YANKEE (Ramón Ayala), b. 3 Feb 1977

Best known for his massive, international hit, “Gasolina” (2004), Daddy Yankee is not only reggaeton’s most recognized performer, he is also one of the genre’s original and most consistent voices. Born into a musical family in Río Piedras, Yankee grew up in the Villa Kennedy housing project. After being shot in a case of mistaken identity, Yankee set aside aspirations to play baseball and dedicated himself to music, making a name for himself by performing rapid-fire raps at house parties. By the mid-90s, sometimes under the name Winchester Yankee, his distinctively nasally-tinged, tongue-twisting vocals featured prominently on DJ Playero’s popular mixtapes. Yankee released his first album, No Mercy, in 1995. Beginning in 2000, he started issuing albums at a steady clip of one per year, making inroads into the Latin Billboard charts while becoming a major star in Puerto Rico. He struck gold (or platinum) with his 2004 release, Barrio Fino, propelled by the runaway success of “Gasolina,” which effectively introduced reggaeton to the world. Having become his own brand, including merchandise endorsement deals with Pepsi and Reebok, Yankee remains restless, collaborating with hip-hop and R&B artists to reach new audiences.

IVY QUEEN (Martha Ivelisse Pesante), b. 4 March 1972

Ivy Queen has reigned as reggaeton’s practically sole female voice for well over a decade, remaining a central and respected figure while transforming herself from fierce battle rapper to sentimental sophisticate. Born in Añasco, Puerto Rico, she started singing to her father’s guitar accompaniment and identifies Celia Cruz and Selena as role models. She lived in New York city from childhood into her teenage years, moving to San Juan after high school. While writing for other acts and performing in talent shows, she grabbed the attention of DJ Negro, who added her to the roster of The Noise, an influential crew of DJs and performers. After making a splash on several mixtapes by The Noise, she embarked on a solo career, in part to distance herself from sexually-explicit and violent lyrics, addressing a range of topics from domestic violence to single mothers, fidelity to feminism. Her first album, En Mi Imperio (1996), sold briskly in Puerto Rico and was picked up by Sony. She has since released a steady stream of albums, broadening her audience, garnering industry awards, and settling into a style that finds her crooning bachata-infused ballads as often as rapping in her distinctively deep rasp.

TEGO CALDERÓN, b. 1 Feb 1972

Puerto Rican rapper Tego Calderón looms large in reggaeton, respected as a witty lyricist with a beguiling flow who anchors his sound and image in symbols of negritude. Born in Santurce but raised in Río Grande and Río Piedras, Tego expresses a strong connection to Loíza, where he was exposed to Afro-Puerto Rican traditions. Tego studied percussion at the Escuela Libre de Música of Puerto Rico before moving to Miami in the late-1980s where he was introduced to hip-hop and began composing lyrics in English. He credits Vico C with providing a model for rapping in Spanish. Returning to Puerto Rico, he established himself as a force in the local hip-hop scene before trying his hand at reggaeton, a savvy career move. His first album, El Abayarde (2002), was a local smash, and subsequent releases have been widely distributed and critically acclaimed. Tego’s music incorporates a variety of genres, including bomba, salsa, blues, and roots reggae. As a vocalist, he is known for his gravelly baritone, unique enunciation, love of slang and puns, and sense of swing. He has become a popular guest artist for hip-hop collaborators (including Terror Squad, Cypress Hill, and Wyclef Jean).


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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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