100% real, above top secret footage of a martian who happens to dance exactly like me in the club (I can’t get over this!).
So much for the ｃ ｌ ｉ ｃ ｋ ｂ ａ ｉ ｔ part. Everybody is done with hypes and I don’t care if it is relevant or not to still talk about old memes on the brink of 2017. Cumbia will always be relevant so shut up. Same goes for vaporwave.
Usually, blends between genres occur when specific, different genres come to occupy an important role in the the cultural sources consumed by an individual, either by growing up with it, being part of a specific cultural environment, or by having any other kind of connection with it that sticks for some reason. At some point, somebody realises that a combination between the two genres is possible and starts experimenting, either as a joke or as a sincere expression of their reality. Usually somewhere in the middle. Like with any cultural translation, something is first imitated and then translated into the new context, developing a ‘homegrown version’ of something that may or may not start living a life of its own.
Vaporwave is of course no exception. I have pointed out before how vaporwave caters to a collective memory of long days of luxurious mall shopping with your parents, television commercials, videogaming and the first aquaintances with the life-changing influence of computers. This shared experience of growing up with these things is mostly specific to affluent, white, suburban Americans and don’t necessarily have the same subconscious connotations in other parts of the world.
CYBEREALITYライフ is one of the earliest ones introducing the genre to Mexico, fully integrated in the entirely internet-based, largely anonymous vaporwave scene. An old track from 2013, with all the tokens: slowed-down, chopped and looped soulful mall music, presented with mystifying Japanese script: nothing that gives away that this was made in Mexico. Nowadays he largely left vaporwave for a broad variety of other styles.
マクロスMACROSS 82-99, also doesn’t make any notable use of Mexican cultural elements and is even heavier on the pseudo-Japanese kawaii-disco flavour.
Munchi recently showed this video, dating from back in 2010, produced by video artist Rollz Royce for the T Tauri Trap House collective (which included artists like Zakmatic and Chippy Nonstop) who experimented with tumblresque aesthetic net-trends, fused with sounds, predating ‘avant-garde club’, which leaned more towards global bass than towards the post-internet lineage of seapunk, vaporwave, meme-rap & cybernetic club. Even though I would now automatically connect these aesthetics to future funk vaporwave, the connection makes total sense, since these sounds in fact draw from the collective memory of growing up in the 90s but in the Latinx community.
One of the most obvious ways to give a Latin twist to vaporwave is to vaporise the homegrown versions of the kinds of music vaporwave is usually based on, like this edit of a 90s hit from the Mexican singer Luis Miguel.
And from there it is only a short step to vaporising cumbia. Mexican vaporwave producer A. Rivers recently released a mini album with 3 ‘made in Mexico’ vaporwave tracks, two of which are based on cumbia.
Mexico is not the only country where somebody got this idea, Falsorwave そして、通過 Chile is a Chilean channel with vaporwave edits of Chilean pop, some of which cumbia.
And a Reddit search of the terms vaporwave and cumbia led to this whole new attempt by a producer called Wiracocha, after the precolumbian Andean deity, to create a new microgenre ‘Incawave’, a blend of post-vaporwave ambient and Andes music. Personally I like post-vaporwave experimental stuff better than pure vaporwave so, clickbait or not, I really dig this!
A long while ago, I made a remark somewhere that bubbling could be seen as a kindof nightcore version of early dancehall and then Mexican cumbia rebajada would be a vaporwave version of cumbia. This was also realised by Redditor Newtype420, who posted Vice’s cumbia rebajada documentary in /r/Vaporwave last year, which has lead some vaporwave-aware Latinx Youtubers to comment in ｆｕｌｌｗｉｄｔｈ to old uploads of cumbia rebajada channels.
Strikingly, pre-vaporwave cumbia rebajada has always had the strongest in Monterrey as well as in Mexican communities in Texas’ metropoles, where it has crossed paths before with Texas’ hiphop culture in general, and the chopped & screwed hiphop movement in particular, which has created an aesthetic that shares a lot of cultural DNA with the different elements that inspired vaporwave and sad-rap.
The question then becomes what is the difference between the cumbia rebajada that’s been around for so long and slowed-down cumbia edits presented as vaporwave? As WosX has pointed out, the way in which it is presented as an added, mystifying and recontextualising layer on top of the sound itself, is an essential element of what makes something vaporwave.
WosX’ recent educative short doc goes in depth into the defining elements that give the vaporwave family of related genres their disctinctive character **I personally do not agree with his assertion of inconsiderate, ‘google-translate’-style cultural approptiation (the way it is usually practiced in VAPOUR) as a positive way of cultural exchange**
This would imply that it is the representation of cumbia, as could be done with every genre, that ‘vapourises’ it, rather than simply applying ‘classic vaporwave’ techniques to cumbia. In that sense, ‘vapour cumbia’ is still in its infancy, but it has clearly entered its journey through the grinding mill.
Essentially the classic sound of cumbia rebajada, wrapped in vaporwave aesthetics, from Vaporguey
Also from Mexico, by an obscure humor channel, slowed down ‘vaporwave’ edit of Los Mirlos chicha hit Cumbia de los Pajaritos, presented in an eclectic aesthetic package that can refer at the same time to cumbia rebajada, sad trap and nightcore
Even though it is not consciously part of the ‘vapour’ umbrella, when it comes to slowing down cumbia with the purpose to create a displacing experience that is both nostalgic and unreal, this already classic cumbia dub edit by El Búho comes close to how a more refined cumbia vapour could be imagined.
On the visual side of things, the crew from Caballito Netlabel, where the designers have been conscious of vaporwave from the start, have experimented with more ambiguous, vaporwave-inspired yet uniquely different Latinx aethetics to accompany their digital cumbia sound.
And for his more recent track ‘Sonido Trópico‘ (2015), with an avant-le-hype very early reference to Marcianito!
Of course Marcianito couldn’t do without its own official vaporwave version, also by Vaporguey
And when a meme is so big that there is a vaporwave edit, there must almost certainly be a nightcore edit as well
Like vapour, nightcore is a universe on its own, that can in turn blended together, not just with cumbia buth with any kind of ‘global bass’ genre, but that’s for another time…