Have you seen The Act of Killing? Werner Herzog wasn’t kidding when he said “I have not seen a film as powerful, surreal, and frightening in at least a decade.” Back in the 90s I collaborated with TAoK director Joshua Oppenheimer, and in that spirit I decided to put together a musical response to the documentary Continue reading
A 30-minute mix of “cumbia cumbia, not nueva cumbia” that was previously only available at a NYC taco shop. My man Talacha gets on the mic as sonidero.
I used all cumbias purchased in Brooklyn, so it skews heavily towards cumbias poblanas, mexican cumbias, tunes made in the States. Shoutouts include: Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, New Jersey, Virginia, Baltimore, Las Carolinas, Ellay… kinda functions as a map of where Mexicans are strong in the US! There’s no tracklist but that’s OK because everyone is always shouting out their name anyhow…
This mix was originally available as a physical-only CD at a taco shop in the East Village, along with another 30minute mix by Sonido Martines. Here’s the post on that.
Stream or download:
If you’re hungry for more of this stuff, you are in luck, as cumbias are almost always close at hand in the Americas… For starters, the 2009 Cumbia Mix I did for Rob Da Bank’s BBC1 radio show remains popular, and my 2008 Fader Magazine feature article on cumbia remains a good introduction the genre as well as what it’s like to speed around Buenos Aires with Damas Gratis’ frontman Pablo Lescano.
This weekend we gave away physical copies of my latest mix CD. Today I’m offering it online. The mix is directly inspired by transnational Mexican sonidero culture, and uses its format to air the voices and stories of a group of dedicated rent strikers out here in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Here’s a download of the mix and the story of how it came to be–
This past Saturday, friends & I threw a community-minded block party at Rainbow Park in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. The basic idea was to air live music that reflects the population here (Latino, Chinese, Arab…), to bring folks together into a space with great sound as community groups offer info and services.
It takes much painstaking organization, discussion, and collaboration to create an open-ended space, any inclusive moment wide with margins of possibility. I think we managed to do it. Hundreds showed up, listened, participated.
[BTB - kids at Nuria Montiel's print vinyl station, photo by Sound Liberation Front]
Planning for ‘Beyond The Block’ began in late spring and continued — with weekly meetings! — until this Saturday. Our we grew over time, expanding to include people from Beyond Digital, Dutty Artz, The Arab American Association of New York, CAAAV, La Unión, La Casita Comunal de Sunset Park, Sound Liberation Front, and various local artists and community members. Manhattan electronic music school Dubspot donated a grip of top-quality gear. On the day of the event, dozens of volunteers came to help everything flow.
[Undocumented youth activists. Ty Ushka's instagram.]
We made posters for Beyond The Block in four languages: Spanish, Mandarin, English, Arabic. Musicians/DJs held extended conversations with community organizers working towards social justice. Various worlds shrank. We focused on local, person-to-person outreach — that’s why you didn’t see mention of this event on any blogs for example. Our digital hype/ “social networking” skills were put towards helping our partner organizations located in Sunset Park and Bay Ridge activate & amplify the word through their networks.
[Beyond The Block flyers by Talacha]
If the dominant mode of musical experience in 2012 is a web-sped diet of consume and move on, then Beyond The Block is interested in learning about the slow social manifestations of all this music that moves us, and asking how our excitement over these sounds can contribute, in a direct way, to the communities where its heartbeat comes from. And besides, I’ve lived in Sunset Park ever since I moved back to the US in 2006.
As we wrote in the mission statement:
Can a hype block party double as an opportunity to spread information about stop & frisk, immigrant rights, police surveillance, and housing? We say yes. As the championing of diversity, a global outlook, and a celebration of the local become increasingly common in today’s dance music scenes, we see an ideal opportunity to use the energy & open-ended vibe of a great party to connect musical ideas to their real-world analogs — to create a space where we can talk about – and dance to – an incredible musical selection while sharing useful information for our communities that are impacted by issues pertaining to undocumented workers’ rights, transnational identity, health care, police violence, housing and more.
How did it go? Fine late summer sun shone on nonstop music performances across a variety of styles and languages — including teen rappers from around the block, Omnia Hegazy’s English-Arabic guitar songs, Los Skarroneros’ Marxist ska-punk, Uproot Andy DJing, and a perfectly-pitched closing ceremony by Cetiliztli Nauhcampa Quetzalcoatl in Ixachitlan. (This last group had me wishing that DJ Javier Estrada was there, indigenous time rise up).
[photo by Neha Gautam]
In addition to the music were things like: a handball court transformed into a realtime street art gallery, Nuria Montiel’s incredible pushcart art station that let kids transform vinyl records in printing devices, a dozen or so community groups sharing info, $1 spicy grilled octopus from the Chinese food cart…
As fellow organizer Larisa Mann/DJ Ripley wrote, “the face-painting and mural-painting folks were total troopers mobbed by excited kids all day, the community organizations & folks at the tables were full of useful information and good humor and the basketball and handball NEVER STOPPED.” When Ashland Total Freedom came walking up I had to pinch myself. As it turned out, everything really did happen. We’re working on a website but until then you’ll have to peer into the soul-sucking abyss of the Zuckerborg to see it.
[painting produced on the day, Ty Ushka's instagram]
The point is not to brag about this event. The point is to remind ourselves: this is possible. A few dedicated individuals can leverage a lot. Music can start & sustain conversations. You can throw a block party like this wherever you live, too. Getting the permits and such wasn’t that hard (despite NYC’s somnambulant bureaucracy); sharing the workload made everything easier; post-meeting tacos & micheladas formed their own satisfying world.
But about this new mixtape…
As the planning went on, I started thinking about ways to extend the outburst of energy that comes – then goes! – with putting on a party. Something that could spread slowly, perhaps in online worlds, after we tended to the here-and-now on one exquisite September day.
[Beyond The Block flyers by Talacha]
In helping to make this block party happen, I ended up working closely with people involved in the rent strike on 46th St. The mixtape idea clicked into place all at once: I would select made-in-the-USA cumbia instrumentals, and have those sounds serve as a backing track to the rent strikers explaining, in their own words, what is happening, why they are struggling. Most of the three rent striking buildings’ residents are Latino immigrants, many from Mexico. I mentioned my idea at a meeting — people were into it. Pues… ¡Vámonos!
Noelle Theard introduced me to some of the principal rent strikers, then she and Dennis Flores, who had already been working closely with the strikers, conducted incredible interviews. As the Spanish-speakers among us will hear, one of the other great things about these interviews is how very different each person’s perspective on the rent strike is. It ranges from deeply personal accounts — say, of dirty water dripping on Eulogia’s stovetop — to broad political analysis examining the banks’ roles, to philosophical reflections on rights and dignity and how a just struggle can empower. If you don’t understand the Spanish then hopefully the deep cumbias will communicate.
The ‘Sunset Park Rent Strike Speakout Mix’ was directly inspired by Mexican sonideros. Sonideros (DJs/sound-people) talk on the mic and select tunes, narrating the party and activating the music, cracking jokes, taking requests to dedicate shoutouts to (often-distant) friends, family, lovers. They literally speak community into existence. Dozens of sonidero parties rock NYC each month, from private weddings to all-nighters in inconspicuous venues under the BQE. (Here’s an introductory article on cumbia sonidera in the New York Times from 2003, and an excellent Spanish language e-book published by friends over at El Proyecto Sonidero.)
Another nice thing about the voices gathered here is how they reflect the high level of women involved in the struggle for housing justice in Sunset Park. (With notable exceptions like DF’s Lupita de la Cigarita, sonidero culture skews heavily towards men on the mic).
But I’ve said enough. Here you go:
DOWNLOAD : Sunset Park Rent Strike Speakout Mix [25 minutes, 61MB] (mixed by DJ Rupture, produced by Noelle Theard & Dennis Flores)
Last night I hit the decks to put together 22 minutes of summer, blended and intensified for your listening pleasure.
Direct download here [50 MB].
This mix was put together in anticipation of a Dutty Artz event of the same name. Here’s my original post about that, a combination birthday party (let’s roar, fellow leos!), fundraiser, and dutty wine dance up.
We are living in a material world. Here are two fruits of Beyond Digital, a gorgeous CD and a cassette, available for purchase here.
The debut CD of Imanaren is a lovely thing. We re-released this digitally on Dutty Artz, but here, exclusive and for the first time, is a very limited edition of the original physical CD, produced in Morocco by Hassan Wargui. (These CDs don’t play well with all drives, so purchase comes with a download link to the Dutty Artz digital version; you can burn up a lossless CD if yours doesn’t play well.)
For an introduction to Imanaren, read (the amazing) Nina Power’s review in The Wire or check out this video — a brief interview with Wargui followed by the album’s first track.
I’ve also got a few copies of the Palm Wine – Dreamachine / Beyond Digital mix cassette. This is great project initiated by artist Simone Bertuzzi. One side features his field recordings from northern Morocco including excerpts from the Master Musicians of Joujouka Festival. (For in-depth observations on the Jajouka/Joujouka phenomenon, try my essay for The National, “Past Masters.”) The tape’s flip side contains a b2b selection Maga Bo & I assembled while traveling on trains across Morocco. Our contribution is unmixed (it’s like an old school cassette you may have made for friends way back when…). Simone has a detailed writeup about the entire project here. My side starts off with the magical Luzmilla Carpio, and this is a 2-minute excerpt from Side A, Simone’s Dreamachine field recordings:
Palm Wine “Dreamachine mix” [2 min. excerpt] by Palm Wine
Please note: if you’d live outside of the U.S. and would like to order the Palm Wine cassette, please do it directly from the Palm Wine blog. This order form allows for U.S. purchases of the Imanaren + Palm Wine, and rest-of-world purchases of the Imanaren.
Make sure you use the dropdown form to select which item(s) you want and whether your location is US or rest-of-world. Shukran.
This Wednesday, Gang Gang Dance’s Brian DeGraw stopped by my WFMU show to drop a deep hourlong DJ set. Brian does electronics in GGD and is deadly on the decks, too. Open ears will be rewarded. Now only that, but during the interview we learn that lately Brian has been feeling the tribal guarachero from Mexico! The radio show is now streaming:
Be sure to check out Brian’s visual art as well; he thinks across stylistic & formal boundaries, with consistently fresh results.
Seems to me like a nice route through tonight is to begin by catching Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts reading from her new book at the New School [UPDATE: THE NEW SCHOOL IS CLOSED TODAY DUE TO SNOW, READING POSTPONED] and then make our collective way over to Made in Africa — whose special guest DJ, Akwaaba’s BBrave, will stop by next Monday‘s radio show.
It reads, in fact, as if Ms. Rhodes-Pitts had taken W. E. B. Du Bois’s “Souls of Black Folk” and Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” and spliced them together and remixed them, adding bass, Auto-Tuned vocals, acoustic breaks, samples (street sounds, newsreel snippets, her own whispered confessions) and had rapped over the whole flickering collage. It makes a startling and alive sound, one you cock your head at an angle to hear.
Here’s a breakout jam from my Harlem Is Nowhere mixtape. The beat is an exclusive from Timeblind, low-slung, spacious, holding momenum in one hand and stillness in the other. Sharifa and I read excerpts from the 1941 edition of Rajah Rabo’s 5-Star Mutuel Dream book.
This incredible publication listed pages and pages of things you might see, with accompanying 3-digit lottery numbers to bet on if you saw them. The lottery dream book simultaneously quantifies the mundane and wires it into a complex system of hope and mysticism, all with an eye on the money. Money the only thing that moves around a city faster or more completely than its number runners. Illegal uptown gambling created this fantastic by-product, these lean little snapshots of life on the street. This was Rajah Rabo’s landscape of possibilities. And so we receive a strange vision of what one might have seen, seventy years back. In many ways the quotidian is the rarest of all. The thing that gets lost first. So we read it. So we say it.
Last but not least: if you are reading this and own or have access to a yacht, please let me know. We’ll only need to borrow it for a month or two. Thanks!
I just finished a new hour-long mixtape, made with writer Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts and inspired by the sounds of Harlem. The project is the second edition of the Cities Mixtape series by Milan-based DOMUS, a magazine focusing on design, architecture and urbanism. This mix is titled “Harlem Is Nowhere”, after Sharifa’s new book which, in turn, borrows the phrase from a 1948 essay by Ralph Ellison. You can stream or download the mix here, and read our write-up, which begins:
Once, a group of tourists were asked what came to mind when they heard the word “Harlem”: some said “music” and the others said “riots.” The connection between the two is a story for another time. This Harlem mixtape is born of our own free associations: For Rupture, Francophone songs sold by scowling Africans along 116th, or old soul and R&B memories being hawked alongside the now-thing bootlegs across 125th; for Sharifa, church sounds tumbling onto the streets and distorted strains of jazz heard from a boombox carted around by a wandering neighbor.
originally posted at Dutty Artz
[DJ Rupture in Knoxville Tennessee, presumably photographed by Cooper Neill]
Wanna hear what some of the jams from New York Tropical sound like in an active setting?
Here’s a radio rip of quick mix I did for the BBC which aired on Tom Ravenscroft’s show a few weeks back. 20 minutes of Rut-pure. The weird bit in the middle (when the beat vanishes and we’re left with Moroccan violin + a ripe synthesizer) is an outtake from my upcoming Nettle album, El Resplandor: The Shining In Dubai… more on THAT in a bit. But first, THIS:
DJ RUPTURE BBC 6 MIX TRACKLIST
Kelly Rowland — Like This (/rupture’s 33/45 mix)
Gucci Mane — She Geeked
Timeblind — Ontological Ground of Being (SOOT)
Gil Scott-Heron — New York Is Killing Me
King Abid — Yezz mel Viss
DJ Orion — The Undertow (DUTTY ARTZ)
Toy Selectah — Compay
? – Push: instrumental
Nettle — Assaiya Violin Shining (SOOT)
Rita Indiana — Los Poderes – Kingdom remix (DUTTY ARTZ)
Los Vlamers — Cumbia del Monte: Marquillos rebajada
DJ Rupture, Matt Shadetek, and Chief Boima — Elegy for Mr Peach: Rupture mix (DUTTY ARTZ)