Forget everything you’ve believed so far about moombahton. The story about the teenage skipping party where Dave Nada slowed down his Dutch house set to 108 BPM to keep the reggaeton-vibe the crowd was dancing to, is false. A myth, made up to give the genre a more inspirational ‘birth story’ than it really has. After all, it is much more exciting to be part of a whole movement of new generation teens in DC than of a publicity stunt designed by a number of eager DJ’s-producers to capitalise on the blogosphere’s global club fever and the hunt for the ‘Next Big Thing’. No attendants of the skipping party have ever been able to be identified…
In one the most important posts in the history Generation Bass, we have shown that the the combination ‘dembow + electronica’ had been around in many ways and places long before Dave Nada. This will show how it has continued to thrive in many ways and places, independently from the EDM bandwagon called moombahton..
Having been part of it for a while now, I’ve come to the conclusion that the main thing which the moombahton movement seems unable to get rid off is the persistent stench of inauthenticity. After a short passionate community period, which the Generation Bass team sometimes nostalgically looks back at, the genre mainly attracted people whose intention it was not to express something essential about themselves and the way they experience life, but rather to jump on a bandwagon as a quick route to fame & riches.
After the hype, a ultra-hard core of dedicated fans, almost all of which are themselves DJ’s-producers and bloggers, has remained and is keeping moombahton alive and well. But even after more than two years after the hype, just the slightest hint that moombahton might possibly ‘blow up’ again seems enough drive the scene to extasis. This happened around last New Years, when rumours spread that Dillon Francis and Skrillex would release a moombahton EP in 2015, and just now again, Hardwell announces that he will drop a moombahton set at EDC Las Vegas and immediately the scene goes ape.
Despite my love for moombahton, but I really don’t get it. Wasn’t the too-early attention of the big industry-artists like Dillon Francis the main reason for the scene to evaporate in the first place? Wasn’t the promise of ‘blowing up’ the reason why dozens of kids started to copy stale formula’s like the ‘Dutch synth-banger’ or the ‘Dillon-bro-drop’, instead of expressing themselves? Wasn’t the accepting the worship culture around the big American EDM festivals as the ultimate goal for every artist and genre the reason why the scene attracted almost exclusively DJ’s and producers? If you compare moombahton with neighbouring scenes and genres, there were no dance-battles, no MC’s and singers, no DIY music video’s, no girls using it for YouTube bedroom-dance vids, no specific fashion, no lifestyle or anything else than music and terrible coconuts’n-hipstertits-aesthetics that could define and distinguish moombahton. None of it.
Most analyses of why moombahton failed, such as Remezcla’s from April this year come to basicaly the same conclusion as I have been arguing all along: the Latino community at large has never embraced it as its own sound, something that represents the entire generation such as reggaeton did. Dillon’s ‘gringo-ton’ already whitewashed moombahton before the large part of Latino teenagers probably ever heard about it.
For a genre to stay, it doesn’t need DJs who want to get famous, it needs a ‘home-base’. This can be people in schools, on the streets and on downtown sports courts, young guys and girls who can relate to a sound as a reflection of who they are. Pretty much how witch house, another hype from the same period, managed to find a solid home base in Russia. If there is ever to be such a home base for moombahton, it most probably depends on the scenes of its most neighbouring genres: Afro-Caribbean bubbling/urban-eclectic in the Netherlands and reggaeton in Latin America and among Latino youths in the US. Bubblinghouse, the precursor of Dutch house was originally the Dutch-Caribbean dancehall scene’s answer to simultaneous developments in the Dutch rave scene, remixing early hardstyle and dance songs with sped up dembow riddims and the effect was rad, while reggaeton was the Puerto Rican and Panamanian answer to dancehall.
Moombahton was, if anything, the hipster-EDM scene’s answer to the blogosphere’s ‘tropical’ hypes. And any scene life such as parties depended on selling the sound as ‘tropical’. Which to the Western ear means: exotic, other, tantalising, bananas, toucans and dark-skinned butts in panther thongs. The only promising thing is that most of the ultra-hard core fans are nowadays located in Latin America, in countries like Mexico, Chile and Colombia.
The idea of combining dembow and electronic music existed long before moombahton, and obviously will continue to exist, finding its way into other upcoming scenes and genres that don’t necessarily identify themselves with the moombahton movement. Some even seem to distance themselves from it.
So dear moombahtonistas.. I am not against moombahton and I certainly don’t want it to die, but before you open Albeton, FL studio whichever programme you use, to load once again the same Dutch laser-synths and banger-raises (let alone Skrillex-growls), check out in what kinds of directions people are moving who aren’t worshiping 2010 Munchi, Dave Nada & Sazon Booya as the holy gospel. And then again, don’t copy them, but be inspired by them to create something that reflects what you feel. Moombahton needs to reinvent itself from the scratch. Maybe then, there can still be another future for the genre.
No matter the genre tag that will be attached to it, here are ten examples that show you a future of electronic dembow which is already there and will stay anyway!
1. The London Underground
I simply can’t stop praising the new scene emerging in South-East London, determined to rebuild an entirely new, multi-cultural alternative club scene from the scratch, deconstructing the obsession with tempo and genre dominant in what is left of the traditional electronic music scene. Because of the Latin roots of most artists in this scene, dembow comes back in any imaginable way, yet always fresh and devoid of fixed formulas.
Here is Kamixlo, who has Chilean roots, one of the most exciting upcoming talents in the entire world right now!
And here Endgame and Kamixlo together, featuring the London based Ecuadorian rapper Blaze Kidd!
2. The Stockholm Underground
Maybe it is too early to talk about a full-blown local underground scene as much is still taking place only on the web, including artists from many countries of Europe and Latin America. But nevertheless, the visionary producer Dinamarca is pushing a whole new global club sound, in many ways connected to what’s happening in London, both with his label STAYCORE 117 and as a producer.
3. The Mexico City Underground
With the Mexico City underground I usually refer to the circle around the label and platform NAAFI. But in fact there are many more potential artists whose style fits perfectly into the style pushed by NAAFI, STAYCORE 117 and the London scene and distinguishes itself from both EDM-oriented ‘global bass’.
Sitlaly is an entirely enigmatic producer whom I’ve been a major fan of since a long time back. Yet I still haven’t been able to find out more, such as if there is a scene around this unique sound. All I know is that reggaeton and cumbia sonidera beats are mixed with the most unique, mysterious sharp synths!
NAAFI nestor Paul Marmota here with a great house-flavoured remix of a reggaeton track!
4. New movements inside reggaeton
All the new developments inside reggaeton, after saturated Latin-pop-ton died, are too many to review here in this post. Therefore a personal pick of exciting stuff I came across.
First of all, a name to watch in 2015 and 2016 !! Tomasa del Real is a forward-looking reggaeton artist from Chile whose style subtly combines the dark avant garde flavours of witch house, dark trap with de powerful underground sound of reggaeton’s heydays!! This breathtaking, gothic flavoured track was produced by a well known name for Generation Bass readers, the Peruvian Dumbiatonero Deltatron!
Here the Brooklyn based reggaeton DJ Jova, about whom I don’t know that much yet apart from that his reggaeton remixes are pushing a fresh, elextronically flavoured sound!
Sufian Batti is a reggaetonero from Murcia, Spain, who makes some pretty exciting stuff !!
5. The trap & futurebeats scene
“Trap killed moombahton” is the general idea, why many moombahtonistas still have some kingering beef with trap. But after recycling the same 808 beats for so long now, incorporating dembow is not at all an illogical way to go, for both the electronic and the hiphop side of trap.
Future beats/future bass is sort of the destined successor of EDM, the new umbrella genre that can absorb all kinds of next-generation electronic sounds and flavours. In general the focus is on lush, melodic synth work and rhythms that draw from jersey club, juke, trap, grime and house.. but so far not so much non-Western rhythms from global bass, like dembow. But if it is done, like in this remix by the Mexican avant garde producer Phynx, the combination is beyond rad!
Karl Hungus‘ banger ‘Duro’ shows how thin the like between EDM-twerk and moombahton can be!
And as far as the hiphop side of trap & chicago drill go, I haven’t been able to find many recent examples of tracks that involve dembow but these beats still sound fresh as fuq!
Mindblowing trak by the almost unknown, totally underrated french hiphop producer Samir Nouar!
And another from the Medellin based Colombian reggaeton producer JobaBeatz!
6. In dominican dembow
The successor of reggaeton in many aspects, going more oldskool in terms of riddim sounds and speeding up the BPM until it becomes almost bubbling. I could write an entire post about Dominican dembow but here an illustation that electronic synths have a promising future in this scene too. DJ Scuff is a no.1 channel you must follow if you’re into dembow.
7. Innovative moombahton
Finally we turn to who is doign something unique within moombahton itself. Then I don’t mean making taking litteral genre flavours like deephouse, techno or psytrance, moombahfying them all in the exact same way, but artists who manage to create truly new sounds with elements from all kinds of different genres.
Cepillo Cuevas is one of the most underrated moombahton producers around, what I love about him is that he, more than any other moombahton producer, is inspired by the post-internet underground!
I wish I could blog this absolute crusher from the Brazilian bass alrounder Maffalda Aeternum on a more prominent place in this post because it is probably the single best moombahton track that has come out this entire year!!
It has seriously everything, the dark futuristic melodic synths which are both chicago drill and dark cyberpunk-retrowave at the same time, punping dembow, diverse latin percussion from cumbia and rasterinha and a excellent tension level for perreo!
Share this, download this, play this, bump this in your car, this is my track for the summer of 2015!!
Fake Moustache from Mexico City is becoming a moombahton veteran who continues to innovate the genre, together with Sonido Berzerk from Veracruz he made this future-beats/vapor-trap/Sadboys/postdancehall inspired moombahsoul beat, meant for an MC to add vocals.. but even without vocals this is brilliant!
A producer who continuously keeps innovating moombahton into melodic territory is the Canadian alround talent Antae. His newest release, Deep & Duro, on new compilation of the Dutch netlabel NLSHYRSLF Recordings, combines psyc-prog-trance and Blade-Runneresque retrowave with dembow and it blows my mind!
8. In the Netherlands
As I said, if there is any place next to Latin America where moombahton will potentially find a home-base, it will be in the Netherlands, where it fits smoothly in the sound range of the multi-cultural urban-eclectic scene (the continued bubbling scene after bubbling died) where genres like dancehall, kuduro, azonto, latin & afro-house, hiphop and zouk are freely mixed together. Because of this more independent scene-culture, producers are much more concerned with how people on the dance floor will respond than with whether or not their track will be picked up by Mad Decent. This creates an sound that seems refreshingly unimpressed by the American McRave-sound of most moombahton from the other side of the Atlantic.
DJ Menace from Rotterdam is an established name in the Dutch eclectic scene and with this banger he shows that Munchi has talented successors in the city Rotterdam. Moombahton is in safe hands!
Marvelous K makes the most independent, brilliant stuff of all, ‘Toasty’ came out just last week!
It is 2015 and I’m still waiting for the most obvious next step to happen, global bass not (only) as the new EDM but also as the new urban, providing multi-genre beats for MCs.. It happens and also here, the Dutch urban-eclectic scene is ahead of everybody else. This delicious track from the Dutch rapper Bollebof, produced by the Rotterdam producer Lange Sjaak, went completely unnoticed in the global bass scene but was well appreciated by the Dutch rap scene!
Dj Miss Devana from Eindhoven, focused most on next-generation bubbling beats, is an essential talent to watch in 2016. She has the perfect dose of non-conformism to keep music fresh and exciting! This moombahton track is one of my favourites.
I’ve barely ever shared my own tracks because I hate using blogging as self-promotion, but now it serves a purpose. Because the reasons I make my tracks are not (yet) to become an established producer with a well recognisable sound, but to bring different worlds and styles together and show how you can arrive at new sounds (I often fail to even make what I have in mind anyway).
This track was for ArntreLA’s Moombah Bandits compilation Vol.1, inspired by the sounds from London scene, the post-internet underground and dark trap.
This was my remix of Antae’s future 3ball EP, drawing from new-age ambient, deep dub techno and psy-prog!
Here I drop a dembow beat to a cybergoth/aggrotech/dark electro inspired sound, spiced up with a dark techno ambiance!
10. Totally different genres that have nothing to do with dembow
Maybe the most refreshing way to imagine how many more things are possible with electronic dembow is to listen to producers who probably aren’t even aware they are making something close to dembow.
Deep in the underground of both techno and hardcore, there are variants called ‘doom’, which usually have much lower BPM’s. The space that emerges to experiment with more complex rhythmical patterns sometimes leads to a dembow kind of vibe almost magically!
Gripping track from Generation Bass owner one of the most forward-looking producers alive Drug Culture!
The alternative hardcore label Noisj releases the most exciting stuff on the heavier side of the electronic music spectrum.
The stockholm based producer Starving Insect has a unique, apocalyptic style in between doomcore and doom-techno and several of his tracks are at a lower BPM and rhythmical enough to make you imagine what it must sound like to get actual dembow involved!
Here a stunning, pitch-black dark ambient flavoured collab with Omnicide!
Less rhythm than techno usually, but the same in fact applies to the 80s retro-darksynth that is making a massive comeback this year. It was hard to find a more recent example where dembow would fit immediately so I picked one of my favourite tracks from one of the best and most famous producers of the genre, Perturbator‘s passionate stomper ‘Future Club’!
— Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this post are the writer’s personal opinion and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Generation Bass as a whole —