It was quite a busy LAMC this year, but different from years past. For one, it’s been nice to see the unofficial events grow on their own. The New York Times did call the conference an “Overflowing” festival although not all agreed on why that is the case. Promoters curated showcases across the city to democratically reflect all the emerging talent and spaces. “If you build it, they will come…” the saying goes.
For me, a lot of LAMC was spent preparing dance-floors and tearing a rug on them.
For starters, I really dug Univision News’ preview piece on the conference (which I happened to participate in too) and marinated on my friend Marlon Bishop‘s answer to the question “What does alternative sound like to you?“:
I think the mainstream in general is less powerful than ever, making the whole idea of “alternative” music kind of silly. Alternative to what? There’s a lot of music to get excited about in the world today, let’s hear it all.”
I AGREE – LET’S HEAR IT ALL SHALL WE?
On Tuesday, SOB’s had a packed house for DJ Bitman, Los Rakas and Mala Rodriguez. Los Rakas taught Univision some Cali Slang basics and talked to Zachary Jones, teacher + blogger who has used the group’s music to help teach people Spanish around the world via his website. Check out their worksheets using the songs ‘Vengo De Panama‘ and ‘Sueno Americano.’ Los Rakas got everybody’s hands in the air…I love having the guys back in New York City and was proud to sing out with the crowd enthusiastically: Soy Raka!
Wednesday, I missed the Mercury Lounge official showcase, but read about it the next day on Billboard – shout outs to mi pana fuerte, Xenia Rubinos, who had a stand-out performance as per NPR’s All Things Considered and NPR Alt Latino.
Outernational played an industry showcase late on Wednesday up the block from the old CBGB’s at the Bowery Electric – friends were in the house to enjoy the tunes of DJ Captain Planet, a long-time friend of the band who rocked everything from cumbia to hip-hop and lots of other future roots music! The band commanded the stage and unleashed new songs from their upcoming EP “Future Rock” …including my favorite new track – “Outernational” – LIGHT IT ON FIRE!
Thursday, Outernational‘s publicist Gina Vergel joined me at The New Yorker Hotel to hear Residente Calle 13 talk about the commercial radio game (and boy do I mean game) with Latin Grammy prez Gabriel Abaroa. Afterwards, Miles + Leo spoke to Gozamos, Voltaje, Shock Magazine and other press outlets about their new video “Todos Somos Ilegales” which features Residente Calle 13 (who rocked a “No Person Is Illegal” shirt), Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine and Chad Smith from The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
In their piece about Calle 13 making waves in the US, Rolling Stone quoted Residente Calle 13 on the Outernational collaboration: “I respect that North American musicians wanted to touch on that topic,” he said at the bandshell, adding that “even though they were creative monsters working on the track, I was like, ‘Whatever – I like the hook and I’m going to do something with this.’ I [recorded] it in one night.”
I also got to say hello to sooooooooooo many familiar faces: Jas/Felix from NPR Alt.Latino, Rahsaan of Afrotaino Productions in Philly, Luis Ayala from Rock Activo in DC, the Remezcla gang, Sergio from Dos Mundos in Toronto, Chilly/Caro from KEXP in Seattle, Nuria from Univision, Jen from iTunes, Andrew from Remezcla (and the gang!), Eddie Cota in from LA, Maclovio from Gibson, Yuzzy from Eclectic Media, Jose with La Santa Cecilia/KCRW, Loren of Digital Girl, Pablo from LATV, Jenny from Cookman (and the awesome LAMC team like Tita and Canyon in the press room), Angie/Erica with Tego Calderon and more. Familia!
Pulling double duty in the press room, I also joined Los Rakas and walked them around to discuss their upcoming plans for dance album, ‘Raka Party‘ – coincidentally, Tego Calderon was in the press room as well. The two groups met the night before at Latin DJ conference, Latin Mixx, so it was cool that they got to share another moment. You could feel the power and force in the room – YIGIRI YIGIRI!
And yet, the day did not stop there. After the conference, I hopped in a cab to La Mega 97.9 FM radio to meet Toy Selectah and the boys from 3BallMTY. At 3:30 PM, prime-time afternoon, the 3 teen Mexican DJs got major props on a platform that is largely catered to Dominican/Puerto Rican urban audiences. This felt very special and significant and I’ll tell you why: Latin America is talking to each other more in the United States! Or as Toy tweeted during the visit: “Mexicanos takin over en la Mega979nyc #2012 !!! Aqui no vienen muchos mexicanos 3BallMTY“
It was such a pleasure to kick it with Erick Rincon, Sheeqo Beat and DJ Otto – they are incredibly focused and talented music mutants. After the fascination wore off, it was nice to talk to the trio about their everyday lives and how exciting all their travels have been. After promoting the band’s NYC-debut that Friday as part of my #FUTUREROOTS series on the radio, the band made their way to more Latin Mixx activities and I took my ass HOME…
…But not for long. Around midnight I made my way to Bembe for the Subsuelo vs. Cumba Mela DJ night. Again so many familiar faces converging on one Brooklyn corner – overwhelming! At around 2:15 AM we made our way to 285 Kent – a DIY space which Todd P runs – he hosted a surprise set by 3BallMTY! About 40 of us wilded out till 5 AM. Trusty Claire Frisbie capturing the scene quite well: “…and at 2:15am on Fri 13, 3ballMTY made their NY debut to a few Latin music industry 30-somethings, hipster Vice vid fans and Javiera Mena“. Then I drunkenly told Erick about how much I feel his rhythm movement of the past and future converging whilst banging on my bleeding heart! Yup, true story.
Friday, after a full day of work at Summerstage, my boss and I went to check out the LAMC show at Celebrate Brooklyn with Calle 13. After seeing lots of familiar faces in the VIP area like Eric Bobo, Psycho Realm and DJ Bitman, we took it out to the people – since that’s the only way to see a show. After bumping into the Raka Crew, then DJ Ethos and finally Uproot Andy and Miles from Outernational, we jet set thru the crowd to get closer to the stage for Calle 13. I danced like a poor person and screamed WE’RE THE UNDISCIPLINED ONES WHOA WHOA WHOA – whilst doing jazz hands and some version of a hype skanking dance while simultaneously stepping on toes.
Alas, I had a show to run Friday night and skipped out early but high on all these global sounds converging and the bigness of it all.
#FUTUREROOTS went off with a DEMBOW bang kicking off with DJ Venus X. Her set told a story of concrete, palm trees, sweet guava, bass, clave and the ghetto. The crowd piled in, a mixture of FADER magazine ticket giveaway winners, LAMC folks and Queens-based youth with some botas picudas mixed in. We danced! I’d have to agree with Venus’ tweet after the show: “history made tonight with
@3ballmty #mexico #newyork”
Saturday, I made my way to the Knitting Factory to check Rebel Diaz and sistren Ana Tijoux in Brooklyn. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather watch hip-hop at a club. Rebel Diaz’s show impressed me so much – and knowing how long these guys have put in work reminded me that patience pays off. It’s a long road. Ana Tijoux smoothed it out and attacked the mic. I shed a tear during ‘Sacar La Voz‘ and bid farewell.
Next up was Bembe for Xenia Rubinos, DJ Captain Planet, DJ Gozar and Atropolis. Brooklyn Bembe Bananas! Made my way to Que Bajo!? but thankfully they were so packed in that we did not get in – Los Rakas + Toy Selectah murdered their sets. But we did catch Las Cafeteras rock an impromptu set outside, guerilla style – refreshing in an increasingly sanitized and police-run NYC – la bamba rebelde!
Sunday we BBQ’d with el Geko Jones at his crib in Bed Stuy and vibed out with the Los Rakas camp while they cooked up another mambo banger with Chief Boima. Bid farewell to the homies like DJ Rupture, Thanu, Chilly, Toy, Uproot Andy, Raquel, Magabo and others….I carried a heavy heart (and ringing ears from the week) home with me.
Watching 3BallMTY be free at their NYC debut, smiling over two colleagues who met in person after corresponding on the internet for years, screaming while Residente Calle 13 gave 100% on la tarima, feeling the intensity of an American born DJ who is so passionate about Latin music they’ve dedicated their life to it, debating the future of all these sounds in business and expression, perplexing over the gap between the “BOSSMAN VAMPIRE” dinosaurian business aspect and the pure nature of these artists who just want to express themselves…
I do know this: the future of Latin America and the babies of those who left her making and consuming music is bright…and the rest of the world hearing it is inevitable. #FUTUREROOTS.