Over here, the weather is slowly starting to get better and when sun feels warm on your skin for the first time of the year, you know festival season will be there sooner than you think. Time for a teaser roundup with the first hot summer tunes that I’m really feeling. I tried to draw stuff from some different corners of music, varying between dancehall, EDM and the avant-garde club – already-famous as well as lesser known stuff.
The spotlight is on the dissappearing gap between bass & club flavours and vocal songs, not just in the realm of watered-down pop music but now everywhere between the mainstream and the deepest underground. True, the divide is artificial to begin with. As Gaika said in the not-yet-published Sonic Acts interview: dub, dancehall and hiphop are very digital genres where a separation between electronic productions and vocal songs has never existed. But the growing number of collabs where producers team up with vocalists to create songs opens up exciting new possibilities that we will definitely hear back in this year’s sound.
The track has been out for about a month already but last week they released the long promised music video. KD Soundsystem (f.k.a. Kuddedieren) from Haarlem and the Ghent based crew Soul Shakers are both pioneers in the terrain between global urban & bass rhythms, dancehall and reggae and accessible mainstream party vibes. Easily compared to Major Lazer or Buraka Som Sistema but, I would say, much more interesting and diverse in style. For their freshest hit, they teamed up with the formation ZwartWerk from Mechelen, who fuse the sounds of afrobeats & kuduro with Dutch rap. ‘Met Mij Mee’ is the best example of how sounds & approaches (tropical bass, EDM, urban mainstream dancehall, rap) that were still totally different worlds a few years ago, are coming together and shaping the popular sound of today.
DJ FASTA has been pushing this fusion since the beginning. His music is the quintessence of the sound that is heating up dance floors all over the clubs in the Netherlands. Especially now the influence of bigroom and American pop-deephouse is fading away, moombahton and afrohouse are now dominating in the urban-eclectic scene. His new banger ‘Soundboy’ together with DJ Superior, released this week, is one we will definitely hear all over the clubs and festivals this summer.
3. Kid Antoine – Bodypaint
In the avant-garde club underground, this track has already achieved absolute anthem status in the two months it has been out. But this is one, like many of the NAAFI edits and tracks from the likes of Murlo, that have the potential reach much wider audiences this year. The incredibly catchy melody is the most perfect mainstream entrance into experiencing the unique conceptual texture designs – this one feels like the sonic representation of a lubricant gel substance – that make this kind of music so fantastic.
4. Ramriddlz – Hey Mr. RamRod
The Egyptian-Canadian rapper, RnB & dancehall artist Ramriddlz is an important newcomer who has been drawn into the spotlights last year by none other than Drake. I stumbled upon this banger through a repost and was immediately hooked on the vibrant blend of future-dancehall and OVO-esque cloudiness. Judged by the number of plays, likes and reposts, this track is already massive but it could and probably will become even bigger. I could totally see it reach absolute hit status, with a VEVO video. Hopefully we’ll hear this all over the place very soon.
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5. DotoradO’PrO’ – My Song
Dotorado is back with a brand new banger, that came online just today. Since his eclectic Maluku EP, he has continued his multi-genre explorations with tracks ranging from dubstep-drill-kuduro fusions to kizomba ballads. But now he is back with the signature-sound that made him famous. #Afro-melodico is ready to evolve into a promising subgenre that combines the rhythmical subtlety of afrohouse, the explosive energy of kuduro and the epicness of popular hiphop and EDM. ‘My Song’ is the ultimate successor track to ‘African Scream’: a natural anthem with the potential to grow even bigger.
Gualtiero and Ray Mautar are names I’ve mentioned since the very beginning of my blogging time at Generation Bass and later again in my monumental moombahton zombie series. I’ve been enthusiastic about them ever since because they are, among several other important names, keep showing that the Dutch urban club sound that evolved out of bubbling, is still very much alive. The influence of Munchi is obvious, but it’s fascinating to see how subtly but deeply different Munchi is interpreted here, compared to most of moombahton out there. Loud and blunt, but nothing like bigroom house or festival trap, staying true to the roots in oldschool dancehall with a rawness that reminds of the original Portuguese underground. With ‘Panya’, the Dutch underground has fully embraced moombahton as its own and from that point, it can only get better.
Back in 2010, MC Nino collaborated with the influential crew K-Liber4life on the kizomba ballad ‘Geen Stress‘ that became a big hit on Curaçao. His dembow banger ‘Mi Kier Bo’, with Prince Maiki, was again an excitement on the Antilles in 2013. That’s why it’s extra exciting to see him join forces with Gabriel Rowano, still of of the most underrated producers in the area of mainstream oriented global bass. Rowano himself too has made a style switch over the recent years, from oldschool trance inspired, emotional moombahton to a more catchy, accessible party sound, ready for the big clubs and festivals. Big chance you will hear this around in the coming months, especally in the Netherlands. The long announced music video will be also released soon.
Yet another banger from the Dutch scene. Stiekz-o-matic is a new but already surprisingly established name I’ve somehow never blogged before. He became more active on soundcloud since a year ago, right at the time when I was getting fully consumed by the avant-garde club scene, at the expense of other things. I realise that’s a pity because in the mean time I’ve been missing out on the shift in the Dutch underground towards a blend of afrobeats, dancehall and moombahton. What strikes me most in this fresh collab with the eclectic EDM duo Dutch Flavourz are the synths: refreshingly different from the long worn-out lazer squeeks, yet electrifying and catchy. Combined with the vocals in papiamento by MC Roke makes ‘No Caba’ one of the most innovative moombahton tracks I’ve heard year. Add this to your sets and spread the new sound of the Dutch underground everywhere this summer!
9. Maxx Gallo – Equipo
Maxx Gallo, a vocalist and producer from Los Angeles who early on developed his catchy, vocal interpretation of tribal guarachero back during the heydays of the genre in a way that is much more underground than the 3BALLMTY’s pop hits, and at the same time much more subtle and accessible than the heavy peppered Texan sound. His newest release is part of the multi-genre ‘Electronica Global EP‘ by the Monterrey based label Worldwide, with tracks from Erick Jaimez, Yelram Selectah, Wost, Noizekid and El Catorce. ‘Equipo’ is a lush and sultry track that blends the summer-night atmosphere of deephouse with sensual vibe cumbia and dembow and the characteristic urban-latin underground flavour that makes Maxx Gallo a very promising artist, not just for 3ball or cumbia but in the current reinvention of Latin music as a whole.
10. Ricky Vaughn – The One Tonight
Another deep, even more soulful tune here from none other than Ricky Vaughn, freshly uploaded on his new soundcloud channel after his old one apparently got taken down by Soundcloud. ‘The One Tonight’ is a unique track, combining the breezy beach flavours not only with an esquisite dembow beat but also with some of the ethereal, even angelic atmosphere found in sad and vapor trap. Whereas last year, there was a great divide between on the one hand great, exciting innovations remaining exclusively avant-garde and on the other hand the big bulk of accessible mainstream music stuck in its own commercial staleness. Tracks like ‘The One Tonight’ give me the feeling that this year, innovation and the potential to reach wider audiences will go ever more hand in hand.
The fantastic things that the Mexico City based bass formation Ghetto Kids has done for the popularity of global bass in Mexico, integrated with the homegrown sounds of 3ball and cumbiaton is something we’ve praised many times before. This year teamed up for the first time with a member of the famous 3BALLMTY, Dj Otto, for a perreo stomper that fuses the best of oldschool dembow, moombahton and Mexico City’s cumbiaton.
12. DjK-ev – India Takata
I preserved this one for the end… Nothing works better for a track to become an anthem than an incredibly catchy melodic hook that people on the dancefloor wil recognise immediately. This easy-listening banger from the Aalen (Germany) based global bass producer DjK-ev has everything to give it this effect on the dancefloor: the dancey chords, the flute and of course the delicious Indian sitar. With enough exposure and momentum, ‘India Takata’ can be THE summer hit of 2016!