Archive for April, 2009

April 26th, 2009

Muy Adhoc a los Microbuseros

That was quick.

Reflecting on our latest pandemic scare and remembering such topical tropical fare as 2003’s Sars Riddim, I wondered aloud “about 4 hours ago” who would be the first to come up with a swine flu inspired track.

/Jace chatted me up shortly thereafter to say that he had already been sent a cumbia tune about swine flu. !QUE PRONTO! Seems like record time for this sort of thing (if not too surprising for the YouTube era). So when Siddhartha Mitter wondered the same “about 1 hour ago,” noting that “brothers in côte d’ivoire got to bird flu before m.i.a. did,” I went in search and very quickly found this —

Interestingly, most commenters seem pretty upset by the thing, offended by what they see as an opportunistic show of bad taste at a time of tragedy. (Not sure whether this has anything to do with the song’s bizarre incorporation of the Indiana Jones theme.) This is true of the comments on the vid above as well as on this instantiation (w/ inferior img accmpnmnt).

I did appreciate this perspective, though —

jaja muy adhoc a los microbuseros… totalmente microbusera, jajaja xD xD ;)

I suppose that’s like a subgenre of cumbia, la microbusera. !QUE ADHOC!


April 23rd, 2009

Feel the Vibes

via Eric Gunther

On Friday and Saturday this week,
I will be presenting artworks for the body
a conference on low-frequency vibration,
at CAVS, organized by Wendy Jacob.
That’s right, a conference about vibration!

On Friday, there will be a wildly diverse
series of 10-minute talks on vibration.
There will be scientists, biologists, artists,
roboticists, designers, acousticians…
(Peep the lineup below.) [see here]
I will be speaking around 11:30AM.

I will also be showing OrganOrgan,
my multichannel vibrotactile surface.

On Saturday night, there will be a party,
with performances on a special dance floor
activated by vibrations.
I will be beatboxing into the floor.

The conference is open to the public.
See below for details.
Hope to see some of you there!



MIT Visual Arts Program announces

low-frequency vibration:
a conference, workshop and dance party

Sponsored by:
Center for Advanced Visual Studies
265 Massachusetts Avenue, N52-390

Conference: Friday, April 24 10AM-5PM
Workshop: Saturday, April 25 10AM-5PM
Dance Party: Saturday, April 25, 8-10PM

A specially-built raised floor at MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies will be activated with low-frequency vibrations. During the conference, the floor will be used as a platform on which to hold a dialog (in speech and sign) between artists, designers, scientists and students. During the workshop, the floor will be used as an instrument for acoustic experiments in resonant vibrations. At the dance party, the floor will become a stage for performances and dancing.

Waves and Signs was initiated by Wendy Jacob with students and faculty from MIT and Gallaudet University. Gallaudet is the world’s only university in which all programs and services are specifically designed to accommodate deaf and hard of hearing students. Wendy Jacob is a Visual Arts Program lecturer, Director of the Autisim Studio, and a fellow at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS).

Dance Party
Saturday, April 25 8-10PM

A floor will be activated with low-frequency vibrations and will be used as a site for performances and dancing. By sitting, standing, dancing on the floor, visitors will be able to experience sound through their bodies.

Performers include:
DJ Pandai’a, of BASSIC
Jessica Rylan, Center for Advanced Visual Studies, MIT
Andrew Colwell, throat-singer
Eric Gunther, electronic musician
With sound by Damion Romero, Nikolas Francis, and Resonance Workshop participants

Wish I could make it to the conference, but I gotta teach all day tomorrow. The “silent” dance party will have to suffice. Pandaia has been raving about the vibrating floor. Dubstep and beatbox and throat-singing sound perfect for it. I think we’ll take the babies and let em vibrate along.

April 22nd, 2009


Why didn’t I think of this? A little realtime autotune would go a long way toward making Nico’s recent adventures in parent-manipulation (i.e., whining, screaming, crying) a LOT easier to listen to —

h/t @timeblind


April 21st, 2009

One Song

Sick of that “One Love”? Try this one —

1 comment

April 20th, 2009

Dub Research

Late notice on this, but if you’re inna di Cambridge area, some dubwise research a gwaan this pm —

Michael Veal, professor of ethnomusicology at Yale, bassist, and the author of two interesting and informed books, Fela: The Life and Times of an African Musical Icon and Dub: Soundscapes and Shattered Songs in Jamaican Reggae* is delivering a lecture at Harvard this afternoon called “Technotopia 1969.”

Later in the evening (but on the early side of Beat Research — i.e., 9/9:30), Dr. Veal will be dropping some heavy dub weight on the E Room massive.

* Click on the following>> links for my review of Veal’s Dub as well as some juicy tidbits.


April 15th, 2009

Beyond Perreo

I’m heading to Seattle tomorrow to attend EMP’s Pop Conference for the second time (the last time was back in 07). I think EMP might have the best vibes of any music conference I’ve attended (and I’ve attended a few). The reason is simple: it brings together people — generally academics and professional music writers — who: a) are excited about music, and b) are excited about the challenges and joys of finding words to talk about music. Neither of these conditions is necessarily — or even commonly — found among the attendees of academic music conferences, in my dreary experience. (Don’t get me wrong, though, I also feel quite at home nerding out with a few fellow excited-abouts at SEM each year.)

This time around I won’t be “giving” a “paper”; instead, I’ll be speaking on a roundtable alongside two fellow Reggaeton contributors, Alexandra Vasquez (who wrote an imaginative, interesting piece about Ivy Queen for the volume) and my co-editor Raquel Rivera. The topic of our panel has to do with reggaeton but, rather than presenting summaries of our chapters or something wack like that, we’re turning our attention instead to perreo and the myriad questions posed by the genre’s provocative dance. Here’s the blurb from the conference website:

Friday, April 17, 2009:
2:00 – 3:45
>> iReggaetón! Perreo and Beyond
Venue: JBL Theater

Reggaetón and especially perreo, the genre’s doggystyle dance, has been accused of facilitating corruption. This discussion, keyed to a new book, links sympathetic and critical observers from the humanities and social sciences, visual artists and genre performers, and a perspective from Jamaica.

Moderated by: Alexandra Vazquez
Featuring: Wayne Marshall, Raquel Rivera, Alexandra Vazquez

I’m sorry to report that our “perspective from Jamaica” will be absent from the conversation. We were excited to have Sonjah Stanley Niaah join us, but at the last minute she was unable to make the trip. That’s unfortunate, especially since I’m eager to talk about perreo (aka, winding, grinding, freaking, etc.) in cross-cultural perspective, not to mention reaffirming the links between reggaeton and reggae. We’ll still do all that, no doubt, especially anticipating all the knowledgeable colleagues who might be in the audience. But it would have been great to have Sonjah inna the house.

For my part, I’ll be discussing the circulation of “perreo” outside of Puerto Rico — both traveling with and, interestingly, also without reggaeton. See, e.g., Colombia, where you get perreo con champeta

Or an old favorite of mine: Peru’s own Perreo Chacalonero (see also). Recuerda esto?:

Among other things, I’m interested in how perreo enters into (inter)national(istic) discourse around race, class, gender, and morals. I also think there are some interesting ways in which Peruano instantiations of perreo call special attention to dimensions of the dance that challenge too easy an understanding as patriarchal/submissive.

I’m quite looking forward to hearing what Alex and Raq have to say too. For her part, and I hope she doesn’t mind my sharing this, Raquel wants to discuss

recent written/visual work focused on dance/music and eroticism/explicit sexuality in hip-hop, dancehall and reggaeton… and explore how those works grapple with issues of power, healing, objectification, commodification, liberation, etc. I want to understand better the points of contention among feminists/”progressives.” My focus will be perreo in reggaeton but since there has been so little on the subject… I want to discuss it within a broader framework.

That’s a lot of stuff I’ve also been trying to wrap my head around lately in various ways, partly in conversation with Raquel and Sonjah and others. I can’t wait to hear what other perspectives emerge on Friday. (I’m also looking forward, among other things, to this.)

Finally, let me leave you with our initial abstract for EMP, as I think it lays out in greater detail (and fine concision, if I don’t say so myself) what we’d like to talk about —

¡Reggeatón! Perreo and Beyond

In the last decade, reggaetón has risen from the Puerto Rican underground to the global mainstream. Reflecting as it informs the shifting shapes of American society, the genre’s hyper-modern, synth-driven mix of rap and reggae, with occasional “Latin” flourishes, has topped international charts while finding grassroots adherents across the Americas. Ubiquitous in urban soundscapes and penetrating the heartlands via digital media, reggaetón animates vociferous debates around race and nation, class and gender, morals and mores. Crucial to its appeal and rejection alike, reggaetón travels not simply as music, but as image, fashion, and dance. As such — and especially as perreo, the doggystyle dance so part and parcel of the genre — reggaetón has been accused of aiding and abetting the dirtiest of dancing, providing the default soundtrack for sex work, and facilitating the corruption and deflowering of young people on dancefloors worldwide.

¡Reggeatón! Perreo and Beyond celebrates the production of critical literature on the genre, the forthcoming volume Reggaeton (Duke University Press, February 2009), as it offers new directions for subsequent scholarship by extending the book’s topics and analyses. Edited by Raquel Rivera, Wayne Marshall and Deborah Pacini Hernandez, the volume is the first of its kind to stage a conversation between scholars in the humanities, social sciences, and the genre’s performers. Our panel gathers representatives from all three constituencies and adds a perspective from Jamaica, a crucial source of inspiration for reggaeton music and dance. As sympathetic and critical observers, we engage reggaeton’s twists and turns in order to better see it, hear it, feel it, and tell it like it is.

I suspect there’ll be a few friends & readers of this humble blog in the strangely shaped house. Hope to see some of you there —


April 13th, 2009

Now That’s What I Call Music Industry

@noz sez sometimes RT can mean “real talk”; here it’s both re: Lil B (RT @noz):

The 19 year old Pack frontman currently maintains 114 myspace pages (not accounting for the “SECRETE” [sp] pages he hints at in blog posts) all launched over roughly the last eight months and each showcasing five or six original songs and freestyles. He calls them “NOVELTY PAGES”, but that’s a disservice to the music within. The pages are numbered chronologically and listening to them in order is like reading an abandoned space journal, a slow descent into madness. Except it’s the good kind of madness.

On the earliest ones he was rapping regular over hit instrumentals and beats that could have been out takes from The Pack’s major label album. The songs have actual hooks, the lyrics about girls and partying. But as time goes on he gets progressively looser with it. The beats get faster and more adventurous, the fidelity lower. He starts to abandon traditional rhymes completely around the page #60, veering towards some sort of spoken word hybrid. By the late 90s he shouting on Chicago juke records and mumbling about shooting bitches in the bra over distorted as all fuck house. In the hundreds he’s rambling about eating with monkeys in space and having flashbacks to the East Bay Vivarium where he was moved to lie about having a pet iguana in a poetry contest. Sometimes he’s singing, sometimes he’s half rapping, sometimes just talking. Always he sounds just a little gone, but mostly joyous even in dark moments. The cynic could chalk this oddness up to trend hopping, a natural outgrowth of the cool-to-be-different Kanye/Wayne era. The realist might say drugs. It may be a little bit of both, but a third factor looms apparent on B’s suddenly immense catalog.

“When you’re on the internet time speeds up.” It almost sounds like a mission statement when B gargles these words on “Time”. …

See CBRAP for audio — oh, and about 100 MySpace pages.


April 8th, 2009


I know, I know, I’m flogging at this point. But I’m really quite excited to hold this thing in my hands.


April 8th, 2009

Trading in Futures

Working on a little something about the dialectic(s) between dreadlocked aliens, Rastas in space (in reggae and sci-fi), and Jamaicans/Africans as “aliens” among us/US. If you have any other tips/refs in addition to these provocative pics (thx @rizzla_dj & @dizzyjosh for their Star Wars intel), do tell —

Bonus points for anyone who can name all the above!

Update: download the finished article as a PDF.


April 7th, 2009

Birds of a Feather, Owl Edition

Nico @ 7 days

Charlie @ 12 days

Nico in longview —

Charlie too —


April 3rd, 2009

A La Plenísima

Plena is Spanish for ‘full.’ But it has other meanings too, depending where yr @ —


In Puerto Rico, plena refers to street music played on panderetas (see, e.g., Sorongo‘s comments here).

In Panama, plena refers to reggae — homegrown reggae en español in particular.

The riddim method has been alive and well in Panama for many years. Before Puerto Ricans took up the mantle, it was Panamanian pioneers such as Nando Boom and El General who showed the way for gente to rap (or better, deejay) over dancehall riddims in Spanish. As demo’d by collections such as this one, a good number of formative Panamanian reggae jams were essentially traducciones of contemporary Jamaican hits. That tradition — of translating and transforming the latest greatest Jamaican reggae songs for Panamanian audiences — continues apace today.

When I was writing my chapter for our reggaeton book, I surveyed the contemporary Panamanian scene to see how that time-honored reggae tradition was faring and found a good number of cover songs amidst the current crop of productions. Here’s part of what ended up in a footnote:

… in 2006, one could hear Panamanian DJ Principal proclaiming himself “El Rey del Dancehall” with the same cadences and over the same riddim that Jamaica’s Beenie Man used to crown himself “King of the Dancehall” a few months earlier, or Panama’s Aspirante employing for “Las Cenizas Dijeron Goodbye” the melody from Jamaican singer Gyptian’s “Serious Times” over a reverent re-lick of the strikingly acoustic Spiritual War riddim that propels the original (though Aspirante changes the text from a meditation on the state of the world to a failed relationship).

All of this is un poco preamble to put into context the tip I received from a reader this week (thx, Tom!), reporting that Panamanian reggae artists are, unsurprisingly, enthralled by the “Miss Independent” riddim. No doubt this is well below the radar — none of these Panamanian versions are about to get played on, say, Hot 97 as Vybz’s “Ramping Shop” was — so I doubt that N_-Y_ or St_rg_te or E_I will be sending threatening emails anytime soon (certain vowels omitted to evade litigious Googlers).

Tom says that he counted no fewer than 11 (!) songs employing the riddim. Here are a few, including one which, funny and densely, simply features someone rapping in Spanish on top of Vybz and Spice’s song. The rest employ the instrumental riddim-wise —


     tommy real-atados.mp3



If you want to hear more along these lines, check out this mixtape of Panamanian dancehall, aka “Da Spanish Reggae Blue Print” —


& if you want to learn more about the plena / bultrón / reggae/ton scene inna Panama, check out the blog by MTVU Fulbright scholar, Larnies.

Finally, talk about plenathis site has more mp3s than you could shake a bot at. Basta! I’m full —



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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