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cumbia outtake main

[Pablo Lescano / Damas Gratis.]

Slow Burn, my cumbia feature for the July/August issue of The Fader magazine, is now available online (albeit without the lush full-page photo spreads). Several years of listening and research followed by a whirlwind week running around Buenos Aires gave rise to this article, I hope you enjoy.

To accompany the essay, I did a cumbia mix for Eddie Stats’ weekly column, Ghetto Palms.

Click here to find the downloadable mix along with my tracklist & some notes about what’s what. (and if you facebook or whatever, this page has the mix in its embeddable internest-y glory.)

Y si lees castellaño, aquí tenemos un artículo bastante académico sobre cumbia villera. [spanish-language cumbia villera article, thanks W&W]

[RIP IMEEN – this is where the IMEEN player went]


a pig goes oink.

but oink goes croak. (first rule of oink: don’t talk about oink.)


More than anything else this year, music & software file-sharing site Oink changed the way I thought about the music industry & BitTorrent technology. I’d heard rumors of Oink for years but hadn’t seen the members-only site until early ’07. Oink was anal, Oink was comprehensive. The site administrators were fierce about quality — only high-quality files from original CD/vinyl rips could be posted. Many releases were even posted as FLAC (lossless) files. Oink allowed only entire releases, with complete tracklist information (uploading an incomplete album or a poorly labeled MP3 could get you kicked off). No bootlegs or concert recordings or unfinished pre-release mixes were permitted.

In many cases, I believe that downloading an album from Oink would be both faster (more on this in a bit) and give you more information about the CD than sites like iTunes.

Think about that… a free website, which gives fast downloads of music at equivalent or higher quality than the paid music sites. And this free site has an incredibly deep collection of both new and old releases, usually in a variety of file formats and bit-rates. It’s overwhelming! First thought: wow, Oink is an amazing library. Second thought: wow, I really need to start selling DJ Rupture t-shirts, CD sales will only continue to drop & I gotta make money somehow!

My library metaphor for Oink makes more sense than economic analogies: for digital music & data, there’s lots of demand but no scarcity at all, which either requires that we rebuild an economic model not based on supply & demand, or start embracing commons analogies. I like living from my music but I also like libraries, the ideas behind libraries…

For fans, consideration of the music comes before questions of money and ownership – this is how it should be. Any system that doesn’t take that into account as a central fact is going to generate a lot of friction. When I say ‘system’, I mean everything from Sony to iTunes to white-label 12″s that cost 8-pounds ($16.38!) in London shops and only have 2 songs on them. (I bought a bunch of these last week, and it hurt).

Oink didn’t offer solutions; it highlighted the problems of over-priced, over-controlled music elsewhere. Oink was an online paradise for music fans. The only people who could truly be mad at it were the ones directly profiting from the sale of digital or physical music. (Like myself! F%5k!)

Oink had everything by certain artists. Literally, everything. I searched for ‘DJ Rupture’ and found every release I’d ever done, from an obscure 7″ on a Swedish label to 320kpbs rips of my first 12″, self-released back in 1999. It was shocking. And reassuring. The big labels want music to equal money, but as much as anything else, music is memory, as priceless and worthless as memory…

About a week after I shipped out orders of the first live CD-r Andy Moor & I did, it appeared on Oink. Someone who had purchased it directly from me turned around and posted it online, for free. I wasn’t mad, I was just more stunned by the reach… and usefulness of the site.

If sharing copywritten music without paying for it were legal, than Oink was the best music website in the world.

Like many BitTorrent sites, Oink enforced share ratios. In a nutshell, share ratios mean that each user must upload a certain amount of data in relation to what they download. This feature encourages sharing. For example, a minimum share ratio of 0.20 (was that Oink’s? can’t remember) means that if you download 5 albums, then you must upload around 1 album’s worth of music, data equaling one-fifth the amount you nabbed from Oink users. If you only take (selfish leech) and do not give, or if you share, but not enough, then you eventually get kicked off.

With BitTorrent, most folks downloading the same files also upload the bits they grab, so everybody gets fast DL speeds (compare with popular files hosted on one server — incredibly slow speeds, or even server crash). Thus, a popular album (or legal linux distribution) can be grabbed in minutes with a decent internet connection. (uTorrent is a good BitTorrent client for Windows)

Watching Oink work helped me to understand the structural intelligence of BitTorrent architecture. Oink, like BitTorrent itself, became stronger & faster the more people used it – scalability writ large. Folks wanted to share – to maintain high share ratios. New releases were highly valued. But users kept older releases available as well (you never know when someone will want your Norwegian proto-deathmetal collection, so you keep your bandwidth open). Whether you call it distributed tape-sharing (to use an 80s term) or distributed piracy (to use a 90s industry term), Oink’s use of BitTorrent & careful quality control did it elegantly.

Aside: If Radiohead (the British rock band who achieved worldwide success via a long-term mutually-beneficial relationship with a major record label) were truly radical, they would have posted their new album as a BitTorrent file with a PayPal & bank account link for the fans who felt like paying. Not hosting it on some weird website with an awkward interface & requiring credit card info…

Aside: One thing I don’t understand is how Oink got taken down while Soulseek continues as it has for years… Slsk has always struck me as the least moral of the p2p systems. If you pay Soulseek $5 a month, you get ‘privileged download access‘ to files stored on Slsk users hard drives. Soulseek earns money by controlling access to the files stored on its users’ drives, users who never see any of this money. And if they don’t like the fact that paying people get special access to their data, there’s nothing they can do about it. Correction: with Slsk you have lots of control over who can access your shared files.

Oink was not “extremely lucrative” as the BBC boldfacedly claims. If I remember correctly, a one-time donation of 5 pounds would do something-or-other, but it was a far cry from Soulseek’s monthly privilege fees. Nor, for the record, did Oink “lead to early mixes and unfinished versions of artists’ recordings circulating on the internet months ahead of the release.” – this is strangely ironic, since Oink would strip user privileges if they were caught circulating unfinished or unofficial album versions. This was a site run by audiophiles and music obsessives!

But Pandora’s Box has been opened. Remember when Napster croaked? Piracy file-sharing is so much easier now. The anal-retentive British site admins kept Oink organized. Bittorent architecture kept Oink efficient. Oink’s alleged 180,000 users won’t forget how useful it was. The next Oink will be sturdier & more multiple. The overall movement is towards more ways to share music & ideas with like-minded individuals on the internet.

The way I see it, this can only be a good thing for music fans. And what musician is not first a music fan?


a lot of folks have asked about this, so here it is, the tracklist to my Secret Google Cheat Codes mix. the mix is part of Violent Turd’s Shotgun Wedding series, buyable here , stealable everywhere else. (at least we’re honest.) Tracklist assembly assistance from u know who.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains google cheats.


one can find several discs from Buda Musique’s Ethiopiques series, plus Manu Chao’s new album – which happens to be his least interesting – dwnldable here. [via ] Chocoreve (I dream of chocolate).

Mp3 blog as library. Weird little broken libraries. you take the book and dont ever have to give it back.

speaking of Ethiopiques, here’s a track from vol. 17 . I dare you to find a more soulful out-of-tune piano number.

Tlahoun Gèssèssè – Sethed Seketelat


cumbias & more on today’s radio, more in a bit… until then, a roundup of my scattered digitals:

Sellbesting’s thoughts on ‘crunkstep’ with a download of the Skream-Crime Mob moment from my latest mix, Secret Google Cheat Codes. (i get asked about that Skream track/Crime Mob blend nearly every time i do it.) the tracklist for SGCC should go live next week. it was effort-intensive, at least compared to a regular type tracklist.


…been floating on the bloggs but i always forgot to mention it. here’s another chance– my Architecture in Helsinki remix (forked-up here), downloadable as KEXP’s song of the day.

there will be a Secret Google Cheat Codes pt 2, and it will be a lobster: butta plus exoskeleton. crack it – open – kill… it? – to get the sweets.

American lobster, Homarus americanus


greek, indian, arabic, hugh tracey african recordings, a compilation of blank-label reggae 7″s,

depth, quality, ALBUM RIPS. dj-listener as librarian as gift-giver as

Magic of Juju blog


a record shop whose employees give away the rare LPs

(my only gripe is Rapidshare. why dont they use Zshare or something that doesnt limit yr downloads?)


post a GIF from 2005, walk away, then BAM — BoingBoing sends 25,000+ new visitors in the space of a few hours. Viral culture goes to whoever coughs the most.

I just finished remixing Architecture in Helsinki. their super-strong original tune required the heavy artillery so i brought in my favorite Trinidadian Brooklynite Mr Lee G for rmx vocals and fires broke out! i’ll play it, along with some other exclusives & dubplates, on WFMU this Saturday, 9am-10am. Listener hour! when civilians like me are allowed to take over the airwaves. worldwide streaming furthers diasporic bass. Trying to lock down some special guests, too…

Droid beefs up the Blogariddims series with an hour of late80s-early90s digital dancehall!! I love this stuff. The first song, a leftfield classic by Papa San, warrants the whole download.

ok…, must report to the water cage, more turkish music soon come


Raz Mesinai, a friend, is Badawi, and Badawi is Safe. And what is safe?? at least — A gorgeous piece of work released in 2005 given to me by Raz yesterday.

check it

Badawi – Sound On Its Echoing


… and today’s NYT casts a long ink shadow on DJ Drama & the mixtape bizness.*

Samantha Shapiro overviews the territory, like the music industry itself, not wanting to delve too deep into the Kafka element that close examination of this warrants. Although there are moments: “…they were part of an alternative distribution system that the mainstream record industry uses to promote and market hip-hop artists. Drama and Cannon have in recent years been paid by the same companies that paid Kilgo to help arrest them.”

(Kilgo is short for Kilgore Trout.)

* note: to bypass nyt and other ‘registration’ silliness, the bugmenot firefox extension works well. non-firefoxies can use regular bugmenot for the same.


What’s coming? Well i’ve got translations and PDFs (Remember bloggers: PDFs are the new MP3s) and music from beyond the edge of Europe so sweet it brings a tear to the eye, but before all that, a little ‘my comrades have bass big-uppage’:

I always said that Ghis was a ninja. The 2nd volume of his African hiphop mix aired on Mary Anne Hobbes BBC show last week. Downloadable. On the same show, Mary debuted Maga Bo‘s Nahkil featuring new school Moroccan rap heroes Bigg & K-Libre, a tune from his upcoming 12” on Soot. It’s a banger…

I branded or stamped each record jacket of this 12” with the Arabic word for ‘soot’, a time-intensive, dangerous process that I can’t recommend to anyone, unless you are crazy, which I must have been, to have spent hours working hot metal over a stove during a Mediterranean heat wave, windows shut tight so no breeze could disturb the oven’s flame. But there is something, something to be said for labor-intensive projects that leave you with minor burns and less money than when you started. Right? at least it’s a good record.

Oh yeah, the Maga Bo 12” that’ll be released after this one (in plain black ‘jace-is-now-too-sane-to-brand’ sleeves) has vox by Senegal’s Pee Froiss and a potent remix by… mr. Ghislain Poirier. Full circle, sort-of.
/end Ghis fan blog