Global Playlist: Moombahton

"This is like Dancehall but global..."
DJ Yoda

The internet has shifted the way styles are creating; flooding genres with so much information that even the concept of ‘genre’ itself splinters and shatters. Uprooting styles from their locality, a new idea can now be shared across the globe within a few seconds.

Moombahton is perhaps the first truly web form musical form. Unusual in itself, but even more unusually the genre can be tied down to a single person and a single place. Dave Nada is credited with its invention, slowing down DJ Chuckie’s Dutch house track ‘Moombah’ until it settled into a Reggaeton tempo. Sitting at the 110BPM mark, it seemed to match the more seductive side of house with a Caribbean swagger. Placed online, a phenomenon was born.

DJ Yoda is an Moombahton advocate, and reflected on its gestation with us recently. “I think it’s the first one the first one of these kind of sub-genres that you can say is truly global. It started globally and I guess it’s the internet that’s allowed that to happen” he said. “It started with a specific track and started with a specific guy and I was just there and as soon as I heard that I was like ‘oh shit, this exciting’. I go through a lot of music. That’s what I do with my days is go through new music and it’s very rare that you hear something that that is actually different sounding: it’s unique it’s got its own feel’ and it was that different that it’s formed a whole different sub-genre and not necessarily a sub-genre that copied that original song.”

Diving into some of Moombahton’s more hip hop oriented releases, DJ Yoda was one of the first British turntablists to being peppered his set with the sound. “I mean, what appealed to me about it, was the fact that it’s of a hip-hop mid tempo speed rather than a 130bpm/ 140bmp type thing, it’s got that kind of headnod hip-hop tempo to it which means, with what I do, it mixes really well with the other stuff that I would play. You can throw anything to a Moombahton beat”.

Almost immediately spreading beyond North America, Moombahton’s Big Bang was followed by rapid expansion. Attaching itself to other sounds, genres that single rhythmic quirk has wrapped itself round any number of existing styles. At heart, though, it remains a derivation of the Dancehall scene – something which DJ Yoda would never deny. “To me, the slowed-down Dutch House side of it was something that was nothing to do with me. I never knew the up-tempo Dutch House tempo stuff in the first place” he admits. “The reggae influence and the dance-hall influence was totally the thing that appealed to me and that drum-pat, which isn’t something new, but to put these other sounds with it is new and that’s the kind of thing that appealed to me definitely.”

Swiftly adopting Moombahton into his musical alphabet, DJ Yoda recently completed a track with Boy George named ‘Happy’. Essentially Moombahton with an instantly recognizable vocalist, the pair bonded over a shared love of Caribbean culture. “I was trying to explain to him what Moombahton was and that’s the way that I got him interested” he said. “I was like: this is like Dancehall but global.”

Divorced from a specific cultural environment, Moombahton has no set rules. Some DJs pick up on the Dutch House tip, and borrow turntable etiquette from that scene. DJ Yoda, though, has his own way of doing things and admits that he has only rarely heard Moombahton in a club setting. “I still don’t think I’ve ever seen some perform an entire Moombahton set which is weird because so many Dj’s who are playing it are people that I like” he said, before adding: “But I don’t know, I’m yet to see someone play a whole entire set of it. For me it’s something that I employ as part of a set rather play a whole set of.”

Ultimately, the success of Moombahton not only displays its inherent flexibility but also the importance of the internet to club culture. These days, a crate digger is someone with a modem – vinyl fiends need not apply. “The thing that was really interesting about it from the start a lot of these kind of previous sub-genres of electronic music that come out they’re very much associated with a particular region and subsequently, since this came out I think trap has suddenly blown up and I think that it fits into the same idea in that, there’s quite a big Atlanta thing with trap but it is global, it’s being made everywhere and with Moombahton, as soon as it began there were kids in Rotterdam, there were kids in LA and South Africa- everyone was doing it all over the place, it belongs to the internet rather than a city which is really interesting.”

Springing up quite suddenly, Moombahton’s status as a blog-based hype means that almost as quickly as the scene gained supporters it drew barbed criticisms from some quarters. Relying on that fateful rhythmic tick, the style’s heady brew of Dancehall and house allows for fluid interpretation. “I think there are so many different elements that come together to create that sound, there’s a much wider spectrum whereas you don’t really get that with Trap for instance and you didn’t really get that with the Baltimore Club Sound, that was a very specific one sound thing but yeah you’re right, there is a much deeper more trancy element to it or a dub-steppy big bass line drop element to it- it can twist and turn and I’d be interested to see where it goes actually.”

If Moombahton does burn itself out, though, the sound will not quite die off. Already proving to be influential, it doesn’t seem as if it will collapse or be replaced –it will simply supersede itself, with each new scene acting as an aggregating point for fresh influences. “Things like blogs and Twitter mean that globally, no matter where you trends like this can bubble up to the surface because people are in such close contact. It’s so easy to share music that trends will happen like that globally and it’s interesting because it’s never been like that in music before. You know, you’ve had even dubstep which pre-dates all of this – even that came from a certain area and then it spread across America and it moved much slower - things move much quicker now - it’s interesting for me because it’s a phenomenon that’s never existed before.”

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New compilation 'Moombahton Forever' is out now on Tanda Records.

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