[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGm9o37BNjM[/youtube]

Right now a lot of people are throwing the word ‘trap’ around to describe the hiphop coming out of Atlanta and the south. The dark bass heavy music pioneered by producers like Lex Luger, Southside and Sunny Digital has been dominant in the hiphop world for a while but has been catching on among the people who are fleeing Dubstep’s sinking ship of un-coolness. In the midst of this it’s worth thinking about where the term came from: drug dealing. I just watched “Snow On The Bluff” last night on Netflix streaming and it does for drug dealing and robbing dealers what Blair Witch did for hunting for witches in the woods. Gritty, low fi handheld camera work follows around anti-hero Curtis Snow as he robs dealers, goes in and out of jail and tries to take care of his toddler son. It’s a crazy look at daily life in the streets of Atlanta and at times is really hard to watch. There are a lot of moments where you are left thinking that what you are watching is real or thinly veiled reality. These people are not actors and the star is a self proclaimed stick up kid and drug dealer. That’s his real son in the movie.  Unlike some of these gangster movies where they spend 80 minutes glamorizing that life and then 10 minutes moralizing at the end when the hero gets killed this is pretty much raw from start to finish.  There’s not a lot of happy shit in this movie and for that it seems like a more realistic portrayal of this life than we usually see.  If you’re interested in a look at the dark side of the trap mythology that everyone is selling you should check this out.

snow on the bluff poster

NEXT THURSDAY MARCH 31ST

Que Bajo?! returns to NYC after touring Miami, Medellin, Barranquilla, Bogota, Cali, and SXSW… come hear exclusive new remixes from myself, Uproot Andy, DJ Orion, Toy Selectah, Isa GT and more and check out our guest DJ’s Venus X of the Ghe20 Gothik Party who just rocked the shit out of the fader fort at SXSW and Panchitron from the Peligrosa All Stars crew down in Texas. Pancho’s mixtape stayed in heavy rotation last month for Que Bajo?! fans
Thursday March 31
Le Poisson Rouge
158 Bleeker St
11pm -$10

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FDG_Xm39mY[/youtube]

I actually LOLed at this one, posted by Eddie Stats over at Okayplayer’s new(?) Large Up blog. The last and first of his Toppa Top 10 fake reggae songs are the picks for me. Eddie Murphy taking a polished and very funny dig at Bob Marley (seems pretty clearly aimed, I could be wrong) and then some youtube guys hilariously misinterpreted transcription of Busy Signal (with jpegs!).

PAT ROBERTSON VOODOO DOLL! Proceeds Go To Haiti relief

I’m unsure about the execution (voodoo-blackface?) too, but this is a great idea, no?

American televangelist/Christian evangelical ‘douchebag‘ extraordinaire Pat Robertson blamed the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti on the on the Hatian people and their religious/cultural practices– voodoo. Additional article: What is Pat Robertson Really Saying About Haiti?

***

& here’s my request to johnnyvoodoo and all America voodoo doll makers, please make a doll of this man, David Brooks of the New York Times

If you read his Op-Ed column last Thursday, I’m sure you will sympathize with me/my request. For a better understanding, Matt Taibbi clears the thickets by translating excerpts of Brooks’s essay so we can further appreciate his timely insight —

“This is not a natural disaster story. This is a poverty story. It’s a story about poorly constructed buildings, bad infrastructure and terrible public services. On Thursday, President Obama told the people of Haiti: “You will not be forsaken; you will not be forgotten.” If he is going to remain faithful to that vow then he is going to have to use this tragedy as an occasion to rethink our approach to global poverty. He’s going to have to acknowledge a few difficult truths.
The first of those truths is that we don’t know how to use aid to reduce poverty. Over the past few decades, the world has spent trillions of dollars to generate growth in the developing world. The countries that have not received much aid, like China, have seen tremendous growth and tremendous poverty reductions. The countries that have received aid, like Haiti, have not.
In the recent anthology “What Works in Development?,” a group of economists try to sort out what we’ve learned. The picture is grim. There are no policy levers that consistently correlate to increased growth. There is nearly zero correlation between how a developing economy does one decade and how it does the next. There is no consistently proven way to reduce corruption. Even improving governing institutions doesn’t seem to produce the expected results.
The chastened tone of these essays is captured by the economist Abhijit Banerjee: “It is not clear to us that the best way to get growth is to do growth policy of any form. Perhaps making growth happen is ultimately beyond our control.”

TRANSLATION: Don’t bother giving any money, it doesn’t do any good. And feeling guilty about not giving money doesn’t do anyone any good either. In fact, you’re probably helping by not doing anything.

Read more @ True/Slant

“In 1993, at the height of apartheid in South Africa, the incarceration of black males was 870 per 100,000. In 2004 in the U.S., for every 100,000 people we are sending 4,919 black males to prison. And the majority of those are for nonviolent drug offenses. But we’d rather send people to prison than give them information and treatment.”

Great article on the benefits of full legalization & the drug-prison-cop industry over at Esquire.

jj

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jj – Ecstasy

“Lollipop” has been sampled by David Banner, covered by rock and country musicians, and now versioned by a mysterious Swedish pop outfit, with a radical lyrical shift, a stretch, an expansion – bottles are replaced with pills, and shawty is getting high on her own supply.  The same aesthetics, but more drugs and less sex. Either way, Wayne, Jonsin, and Static will be/would be proud.

NEW YORK—According to an alarming new study published Monday in The Journal Of Applied Behavioral Science, the time-honored American activity of swaggering, an extremely arrogant manner of walking, has dropped by nearly 90 percent since 2007.

From The Onion article

For extra laughs –


Cindy McCain Claims She’s “Just Like Any Other Female Human”


Portrayal Of Obama As Elitist Hailed As Step Forward For African Americans


12-Year-Old Boy Scouts Volunteer To Give Women Breast Exams

Did you notice how cool Barack was in the last debate? Have you notice how much gray hair has popped out of Barack’s head over the course of his campaign? Is Barack able to be himself? Can you really even get angry while in fear of being angry?

In that same/last debate, did you also notice how John McCain was blinking about a hundred thousand times a minute? Did you see the bulge in his neck? He was visibly upset, and you can tell by the way he was interrupting Barack and by his jagged responses.  Did you also notice in the second debate when McCain referred to Obama as “that one”? All Barack could do was just smile (and you know that somewhere in his bones, he would like to say that “this is some BS”.)

Anger is a natural emotion, but if you are black, Latino, a person of color, there’s no space in these United States for you to be angry.  It has taken me years to understand that as a black person, it is not acceptable to be angry in America.  People will be terrified of you, but this is not about me, (I am still angry and trying to realize the difference between proactive anger and reaction anger) this is about Brother Barack.

I pray that Our Beloved Brother Barack has some outlet.  I pray that he and Sister Michelle have some private conversations about black stress and internalized racism.  Black stress and internalized racism can lead to heart attacks and high blood pressure. I hear that he’s smoking again, that can only accelerate the process.

*
J. Edgar Hoover (FBI Director for a very long time) constantly referred to black people, specifically civil rights leaders (including MLK) as communists or socialists. In the last few days, McCain’s criticisms of Obama’s economic/tax policies of “spreading the wealth” as socialism echo those old attacks and accusations of black leaders.  That is racist and hypocritical, after McCain voted for the use of government funds to bail out Wall St.

*

Here’s what inspired this post… Brand new DB!

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David Banner – When You Hear What I Got To Say


David Banner talks Election ’08 with DJ Hyphen from DJ Hyphen on Vimeo.

*

Tim Wise should not be one of the few white people in America who talk consistently about white privilege, but he is.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UJlNRODZHA[/youtube]

I think that Republican’s and Democrats alike are having a similar moment today upon learning of John McCain’s vice-presidential announcement this morning. Who? What? Why? Her name is Sara Palin and she has been the governor of Alaska for a year and eight months. Before that she was mayor of a town of less than 10,000 which although she calls herself a ‘fiscal conservative’ (do these even exist anymore?) she left with $20 million in debt. McCain’s response to Obama’s wonderfully eloquent acceptance speech stomping him and the Repugnant-cans is to throw what’s being described by red and blue alike as a political hail-mary pass. But I ask: “At what? To where?” I think he just took the ball and threw it as long and far as he could down the field, in the wrong direction. While Republican’s were saying things like “Who?” and “I don’t know, I’ve never met her” this afternoon when asked for comment the rest of us were getting a crash course on a vice-presidential nominee we had never heard of.

Palin as Miss Wasilla, Alaska in 1984

The fact that nobody seemed to know anything about her, including those on her own side, seems like pretty strong evidence that McCain watched Barack Obama’s speech and convention last night, shit in his Depends, and desperately reached for the wildest wild card that he could play in order to first: draw attention away from a speech that pundits are calling masterful, brilliant, tough, confident and Republicans are comparing to Ronald Reagan (crazy, I know) and second: to frantically try to claim the mantle of change in an election where he is being portrayed as the incumbent in an environment deeply hostile to the current regime.

This leads me to ask: no, seriously, what was he thinking? Was he thinking that he would be able to swing some of the disgruntled Hillary supporters because his new running mate has a vagina? If this is the idea, not only will it not work but I can see it triggering a terrific backlash. First of all, Palin is the opposite of Clinton on policy positions. As someone who is pro-life, pro-gun, anti-environment (she’s against polar bears for god’s sake, didn’t she see those cute Coke commercials?) and vetoed solar, wind and coal initiatives as governor she is basically an evil anti-Clinton mirror twin from Bizarro World. Further she is a 44 year old former beauty queen political lightweight with zero, repeat, zero experience on the national scene. She is as far from Hillary as you can get and still be a female politician. The message I read from this from McCain to Hill’s supporters is: you’re women, she’s one of you, you’re all so blind and stupid that you won’t care that she’s diametrically opposed to everything Hillary fought for for years and years and endured terrible humiliation to get to, vote McCain. You might as well spray them with mace. Bonus negative million points: Hillary will be SO MAD about this that she is going to be back in this campaign spitting acid and SWINGING. So, way to go McCain. You did, I think, the only thing possible to motivate Clinton to campaign as hard as she possibly can for the man who beat her in the primaries.

Next: Age is officially on the table. The fact that McCain could, on his seventy second birthday, nominate a woman who is so deeply, clearly, dangerously unprepared to step in as commander in chief should he succumb to a fifth bout with cancer just illustrates to both sides how much McCain is willing to risk our national security and stop at nothing to win an election. And he accused Obama of being willing to lose a war to win an election? Are you kidding?

Lastly, McCain just picked up the experience stick he’s been beating Obama with all summer, really one of his few legitimate claims, no one can take away the fact that he’s been in Washington for 26 years, and broke it over his own head. By nominating a VP who is both younger, less experienced and also less known than Obama he’s effectively neutralized that argument for himself and his surrogates. The upside for him is that should he be elected he’s pulled an effective Bush-ist move in that absolutely no one will dare to assasinate him for fear that this woman will be running the country.

PS: to those of you are thinking: what is wrong with Matt Shadetek, why is he only talking about politics and writing these weird ranty essays and not talking about music? Well, sorry, this is what I’m thinking about right now and I’ll be damned if I can’t rant about in on my own blog. This is mainly because I feel so strongly that America needs to dump the Republicans and put Obama in the White House that I literally cannot shut up about it.

Oh and PPS: Fuck Daddy Yankee for endorsing McCain (another giant WTF?!?! with a biillion explanation points and question marks) and respect to Fat Joe for dissing him.  What a jackass!

I’m really hoping this is McCain’s “Macaca” moment. Interviewed and asked how many houses he owned: “I think — I’ll have my staff get to you,” McCain told Politico in Las Cruces, N.M. “It’s condominiums where — I’ll have them get to you.”

Mannnnn. I can tell you exactly how much I’ve got in the bank right now (not enough), and how many houses I own: none. I also don’t have a staff to keep track of these things for me, I just remember. For someone who’s supposed to be running the country and keeping track of a lot more information than that, this is not a good look for the McCain campaign. David Gergen has been quoted again and again as saying “Obama needs a game-changer” due to the fact that he is not further ahead in the polls. This might be it.

Obama’s hitting hard on it now, something I’m happy to see since a lot of Democrats have opted not to fight dirty in these kind of fights in the past and some would argue lost because of it (Kerry’s swift boating anyone?) and I personally want a candidate that is gonna take it to the Republicans with two fists and throw mud, rocks and whatever else is handy in order to WIN. Let’s hope Obama and his surrogate’s stay on message with this one and just keep beating McCain with this right up to November. I don’t really see a lot of outs for the McCain people either, aside from attacking back, which they’re trying, using the same elitist celebrity tactics they’ve been on but I really doubt they can get much traction against this. Oh, and the number did come out, it’s not “More than four” (wtf kind of answer is that?!?!) it’s actually SEVEN, including houses on both coasts and more places in between. If you live in a swing state like Ohio, Florida or Virginia be sure to let as many people as you can know about this one.

For the two videos click through to watch the Obama commercial and remarks.

Also, while I’m talking about the election, which I’ve been following avidly, I’d just like to point out how quickly Obama’s organization has responded to this. McCain slipped up yesterday, I got this ad in an email from the campaign today. Talk about rapid response. McCain can’t rapidly respond to a question about his own financial life. If you want evidence of who will be a better head of the executive branch of our government look at how Obama is executing strategy for his campaign. A short list: A) record number of small, non-special interest donations due to excellent internet fund-raising B) volunteers on the ground in fifty states opening fights in places McCain thought he was safe and bleeding his already poorly organized resources C) the rapid and pointed response to this opportunity. Contrast this to Hillary’s campaign which was top-down, rife with infighting and only stayed afloat due to her own cash injections which she’s now taking a huge loss on and (sorry Clintonites) but you see who is ready to lead on day one.

Since the last post was about a mambo tune that I won’t be playing out anytime soon I thought I’d start out with a fun spanglish mambo party jam that I DO like and got a big forward at the last New York Tropical Dance. Bachata meets Mambo meets ATCQ.

Sakawaka by the official Dominican Pimp Makaraka y la Grande Liga

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Tiroteo [tee-roh-te-o] or alternatively Tiradera [Tee-ra-deh-rah]

1) A shoot-out

2) gunman lyrics in latin music

3) Battle tunes dissin other MC’s in latin music

I could draw on a million gun choons you’ve heard so I’m rollin with definition 3 here and offering a nugget from an unknown young Dominican duo called The Mr. feat Yankee Next. A ting called Ratata

Another bachata meets mambo tune, this one takes aim at the big boys of Mambo: El Sujeto, Jucafri, Tulile and Omega. The Mister who refuse to be pigeon-holed as Mamberos or Reggaeton artists fuse all sorts of urban and caribbean music and are comprised of Wagner Jesus Ortiz aka Mr. WJ and Franklin Emilio Gomez aka Mr. Frank. In recent hip-hop history this underdog tactic was deployed to career-launching success by one Mr Curtis Jackson on the now legendary How to Rob.

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I went back and found the video of El Sujeto I mentioned in comments of the last post. Here he and up and coming latin hip-hop artist El Lapiz are in a parking lot cheezin for the camara, flashing loaded clips, matching hardware and rattling off lyrics…. they then take turns exchanging poetic two-line couplets of street verse (as u watch, think bomba improvisada)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvT85iBFDJo[/youtube]

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Now, I’ve got guys and girls in my family that freestyle and act just like this on and off camara so here’s some thoughts on the gangsta/bling ethos infiltrating the jibaro homelands.

At home in PR, after a blunt, my cousins are easy enough to get along with. We spend our time together laughing at some of their admittedly moronic antics; a 26-man brawl with a police squad, pranks played on crack-heads, stealing cars (na dawg- sorry to break it to ya…. playing Grand Theft Auto does not a gangsta make), motorcycle crashes, bar fights, turf wars etc. Every visit is replete with new stories and matching battle scars. They boast of a revolving door at the local precinct that was recently installed, just to keep up with our brood. As they’re telling me all this, I watch two of them bitch up to raised hand from Titi Lulu, standing a towering 5’4 en chancletas y rollos.

This in-and-out of jail pattern that has developed for my cousins on the island (and in the Bronx), it causes grief to both their families and the community. Some of crimes are necessitated by survival, but most of it is carried out just to get a rep. (There is also a percentage of our cumulative arrests that is attributed to cops being pigs, racial profiling and babylon system)

I ask myself where they get it from because we were raised together outside of the fact that I left the island our biggest differences aren’t a formal education. I stand with them as a student of life educated by my environment who chose to go my own road while good friends opted to finish school and then college to get their degree. True enough, the experience of coming to the states lends me some advantages like mastering English as a first language but that gets balanced-out by other factors. They own their houses, while I pay rent. One even has a garage below his house which has rented as a tire and mechanic shop his whole life, so he’s learned a trade by osmosis. Neighbors come to him for the odd jobs they cant afford to pay a trained mechanic for. Nobody offers me gigs for my superior tele-marketing skills and DJ’ing has yet to re-coup the amount of money I’ve spent on music, my drug of choice.

Then there are my cousins in the Bronx. Like me, they are transplants that have been here in the states for more than ten years. They speak English as a first language and spent most of their lives here but they share equally riotous stories. Difference between me and most of these kids? Surprisingly, neither camp watches much TV so the best I can pin down is that Hot 97, La Kalle and NYC’s mixtape circuit dominate the South Bronx, PR is bumpin reggaeton and I’m the odd man out that listens to as many genres as they do artists. Obviously, I’m tuned into the internet streams on BBC radio, Samurai.FM and the elsewhere in blog-landia. Therein lies the discrepancy. Puerto Rico’s internet is still largely dial-up last I checked and neither they nor the Bronx camp are web-crawlers so they are subject to whatever information is given to them.

I wanted to hold off on the following for a next conversation but I welcome your thoughts this: Gangsta rap’s ideology, the image of guns and bling being cool wasn’t made popular by the general American public or the hip hop community at large. Industry force-fed it to us with little alternative until we got used to it and its now grown past our borders and is affecting other communities. This isn’t my opinion as much as a springboard for dialog I’d like to engage in with you in the comments section. If you wanna go deep in the hood chronicles dig up Bushwick Bill’s album Lil Big Man and try that on for size before writing your response. What I’m getting at with this is until recently, when $mall Change invited me to play on WFMU, no one ever asked me what I wanted to hear on the radio, much like no one I know has ever participated in the political poles that CNN and other media outlets wave as hard statistical data.

Now, back to my hick relatives. Talking to most of my primos (i’m the fourth oldest of 32 blood-related cousins) I find they all share a highly-animated sense of reality, one in which being gangsta is how u gotta be ‘cuz that’s what its like in the streets yo! But when I look down the hill we all grew up on in Puerto Rico, there is still a huge field that horses graze. Behind that, the race track belonging to El Recinto de la ‘Yupee’ Bayamon (University of PR). Standing there, I often myself pondering if I had stayed would have stayed in Puerto Rico, living that close to a great university…

The oldest of the my cousins back on the island has enough crack-heads and ganja smokers in the area to pay the bills, but overall its really not that gully in Barrio Juan Sanchez where we’re from. The neighborhood remains mostly friendly jibaros, who now lock their doors because scattered corrillos of kids with shaved legs and plucked eye-brows are tryna act hard?!? These kids perceive their world through a lens calibrated by the gangsta-ideology that permeated reggaeton and now merengue and what we are seeing are consequences of allowing music and other forms of media to go off into the wilds uncontested.

One of our daily newspapers in Puerto Rico is named El Vocero. On more than one occasion and from both younger and older generation sources I heard it described like this…. when you pick up El Vocero, (holding it out pinched between thumb and index finger) ….it drips blood. During a two-week stay there, I read 3 separate articles about mercenary style killings; bag over head. hands tied to their feet behind their back- shot in the back of the head; all of them within a few miles of where I was staying and suspected to be carried out by guys my age and younger. These were separate articles over the span of a few days but there was no visible thread between them one was a car robbery, one over a girl, one over drugs. It seemed to me at the time, that several one-up ‘a ver quien es mas gangsta’ disputes had climaxed in tandem, resulting in copy-cat atrocities.

I’m not blaming artists or their music for the violent acts committed by individuals. But denying that the demeanor and attitudes which have become prevalent in the current generation is not in some way affected by the music these kids are digesting seems beyond naive. We can take a lot of what singers say with a grain of salt but the question I’m posing is why is the line so far off center? Does calling a spade a spade have to = censorship? I’m not saying these guys shouldn’t have the right to make their music or that it shouldn’t air. But is there a forced emphasis on new jingles or the dance of the week and an oppression of air-play for thought-provoking music, or is it me? What I see is a bunch of kids setting the coordinates to stat quo and forcing themselves into the cookie-cutter gangsta image in hopes of making it so they can get outta the hood.

I speaky di inglesh and my native tongue and I understand quite clearly the words that are coming out of their mouths.… so when do we get to the scene where bubble-gum gangstas get knocked the fuck out by artists with more talent and a different set of standards? At the very least lets call them out on their shit and ask them to elaborate. There are circumstances where letting art speak for itself is useful but when you have so many clones I think we would all be better off to challenge an artist on what they are trying to accomplish with this a piece of art beyond just making money. Those who put thought into their art will usually rise to the occasion. You can get into the ‘why does art have to mean something’ question if you wish, but I won’t be taking part in that with you. I’m busy looking for art with substance or both new and old genres to explore and learn from. Too busy working with MC’s that CAN break the mold. To watch artists hide behind the stage persona and do and say ridiculous things while in character seems a cop out even when factoring in that being an entertainer is, in rare cases, a well-paying job opportunity to someone who comes from bleak circumstances.

Here’s an all-star line up of MC’s with real street-cred that aren’t afraid to face the wind and are ready to blow the current whackness out like the flickering flame that it is. Jahdan Blakkamoore the man Guyanese from Crown Heights Brooklyn, Princesa hailing from Argentina, recent unsigned hype inductee Homeboy Sandman outta the Qboro serving nourishment to the masses, Durrty Goodz in the UK whose Axiom EP raised the bar for grime MC’s, and MV Bill who lives in the City of God, Brazil (his documentary Falcao is story more people should be aware of- large up to Maga Bo on this one). All of them have wicked flows and make it a point to challenge norms plus know how to rock a party. Show them some love ya’ll

Now, I’ll admit to getting older, ornery and detached, having not owned a TV in 8 years. I still manage to enjoy the art of story telling in rhyme, slang and street context. Can you admit a large percentage of new artists out there offer very little lyrical song-writing ability and rely on good publicists to determine for the audience what’s hot? I have to believe at some point society should hold people accountable for their words and actions and at the same time strive and get to the root of our problems. As a Latino, I take it upon myself not sit idle and watch apathetically as my family and culture are brainwashed. I’m happy that Immortal Technique is doing his thing but he’s got a way too much M.O.P. in ’em for the average listener, myself included. Nobody likes Debbie Downer so I search far and wide for party-rockin music I can stand up for because, often times, that can’t afford a publicist. Challenge yourselves to create play-lists that work well on the dance-floor and balance lyrical content. You’ll find its a lot harder than keeping your eye on what everyone else is playing but infinitely more rewarding. That’s how we go ’round payola. Thank you for pushing good music forward via your blogs and the encouragement to air these ideas. –

run go tell dem come…we ready fi dem- Gex

cotorra

COTORRA

[ko-toh-rrah]

1) Castillian word for parrot.

2) A motor-mouthed chickenhead.

3) Dominican slang for game, rap, the things one says to seduce.

see also labia or en ingles runnin’ gums

 

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Sigue El Mambo

This posting is in large part a response to Wayne&Wax‘s post on smut/slackness in dancehall music. Beat-junkie that I am, I have a far better memory for artist, title, label, BPM than lyrics. Still, I make it a priority to assess my selections and make sure that the music I play reflects my ideology. If I am to have the luxury of playing for rooms full of people I choose to at least attempt to balance fun and reason. If I really don’t agree with the content of a tune, it’s not getting air on my shift. I make it a point not to dance when I hear ‘Boom Bye Bye’ out. My own silent protests. You might remember me as the kid in class that opted not to pledge the flag but this isn’t me on soapbox-pulpit. I’m sure some of things I play and approve aren’t in someone else’s bag for various reasons. There’s plenty of fun bad-man, gun, and audio-porn dance tunes that the powers-that-be will stamp an advisory warning on and DJs will bang out this year.

But if we are to have real discourse on raw international music that promotes sexuality or violence and whether or not cautions should be taken toward audience, I think the following is a great tune to dissect.

A while back DJ/Rupture threw up a tune from Omega on the Mudd Up and mentioned this Mambo Violento movement out of the Dominican Republic. Although Omega’s band goes by the same name, Mambo Violento as a genre, is street-merengue defined mostly by hyper-rhythms, braggadocio and sexual innuendo. My first exposure to the sound was sitting in the backseat of a Dominican gypsy cab speeding home from a gig. Beyond the 200+ gabber-like BPMs what caught my ear about the compilation the driver was playing was the flagrant raunchiness of the lyrics.

Perreo is one thing but this was a whole new level of slackness in latin music. Here’s a really minimal sounding tune called ‘La Menor’ (The Minor) by El Sujeto that reminds me more of Detroit Grand Pubahs than any merengue derivative. In the tune, you’ll hear El Sujeto hitting on an underage girl, whose refrain “Es que soy menor, Es que yo no doy” translates into I’m a minor, I don’t put out. He spends the rest of the tune dando le cotorra and letting her know that her age won’t be a problem. My inner-feminist and pedophile radar blipped. Its now flagged as a don’t-play tune worth keeping in the collection for the when they book me to play at Playboy Mansion someday-

[display_podcast]

At first listen, I really liked the minimal aspect of the tune as it was recorded. It sounds like it was made low-budget shitty and smells of dirty minimal electro ala Peaches, with a side of mangu. The strange keys at the intro and the guido-like hi-hat that comes in, all so left-field from their origin yet the roots still visible at surface level. Lyrically, my concern was that the chorus was talking about having sex with a minor which falls outside my personal comfort zone. Until you find yourself in a room sitting and conversing with a questionable couple and are forced to clarify where you draw that line for yourself, I think one could easily live without processing the gravity of this. The tune isn’t insanely offensive and talks mostly about the same old: Watch the bling, I’ve got an SUV, I’m not taking any back-chat so go tell your parents I’m gonna take you back to the cabin and beat the punnany.

Take a second and picture that in the context of an adult saying it to a fourteen or fifteen year old.

In a live performance of the same tune below El Sujeto and the band bring it back to the realm of merengue, but the first thing that I notice is the LACK of back-up dancers in micro-skirts that is common in a lot of videos for the genre. The girl’s chorus from the original is also being carried by a trio of three male back up singers. All male back up singers is normal but scantily-clad women are usually in the budget for these types of performances. I could be wrong here but my intuition tells me that though there’s a chance this was filmed on a morning show with some level of humility what’s likely is the artist knows this tune is on the wire and he balanced his stage act to compensate. If thats the case, respek mi doopz, balance is good.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mK0ZFXQLcEI[/youtube]

 

Behind the stage persona, I bet this guy too loves and respects his momma.

The cultural age of sexual consent varies greatly from city to town to pueblo. Your position on this is as irrelevant as my position on this tune. Thats your opinion bruv, next caller….. It makes no difference if you think its right or not, we’re two thousand plus miles and several income brackets away from that truth.

Tell a single mother in the Dominican Republic that letting her 15 year old find a husband is a bad idea when she has 4 other kids to take care of and a 24oz can of powdered milk costs 240 pesos ($1 = 33 pesos). No mother wants their daughter to marry a skeevy guy but in villages where a college education and opportunity are hurdled by real-world hunger, the decisions people make are about essentially about survival. The main concern is that said daughter finds a provider, gets married and moves out, thus continuing the cycle. There is a great deal of room for improvement of worldwide cultural norms and we could do a whole separate post on that issue, but it’s a digression from the point I’m driving at. Don’t be that fool out there playing ignan’t shit and putting on dampers.

It seems that the IN thing right now is collecting and playing out international ghetto music, and little thought seems paid to the content and meaning of the songs. I’m all about getting peoples hands up, dancing and making out at a party but if you insist on co-opting cultures please do try and have some idea of what is being said in the tune. If you don’t know anyone who speaks Portuguese, try asking your friend that speaks Spanish to break down that kuduro song for you. There is a a great depth of cross-cultural significance to be found in Tego’s lyric “los negros se entienden.”

I grew up on the island and in later years, seeing first-hand the decisions friends and family made in terms of relationships I have been forced to internally process similar issues. For instance, the story of my cousin who at age 18 dated a younger girl, moved into her mom’s house, broke up with the girl and started dating her mom in the same house where they sold ganja to feed the family and a horse. Imagine my face as he’s explaining all this sitting next to both these women and factor in his older brother dating the teenage girl before he did. He had to explain it three times for my brain to process that in rural parts of the world and even rural America, stories like this pop up far more often than some would think.

Here’s a great rendition of that same tale as captured in a Perico Ripiao recorded by Luis Quintero y su conjunto Alma Cibaena so many years ago

Luis Quintero – La Mama y La Hija

If you’re searching for more current latinoid stuff check out recent gene-pool mutation Miti Miti based in Harlem for even weirder minimal merengue business.