Last week Nettle gathered at DJ N-Ron’s studio in downtown Brooklyn to record several new songs. Here is a snapshot of the control room magic, creativity captured in full swing.

And here’s a quick montage from filmmaker Sam Fleischner. Sam, director of Wah Do Dem, was recently in Mexico City. I gave him some tips, and he ended up using “Soy Sonidero” from Mudd Up! to cut his footage to. It’s a kind of a meditation on state power vs the power of the people’s daily rhythms. Everybody knows there’s something tragically Freudian about the size of that flag in Zocalo.


Last week’s radio show with USC professor Josh Kun was a real treat – and it’s now streaming. An hour of real talk on the current state of narcocorridos – Mexican drug ballads – prefaced by two new heaters from Tijuana’s blooming indie scene. Listen close:

WFMU is in the middle of its yearly fundraising marathon! Our independent, advertising-free FM radio station is almost entirely listener supported (which is incredible, in today’s rapidly consolidating and corporatizing mediascape), all on-air DJs are 100% volunteer (aka I don’t get paid), and now’s the time when we asking for your help… For more reasons on what this fundraiser is all about, you can listen back to my show this week with co-host Therese, or simply tune in to WFMU 91.1FM NYC.

Or go straight into altruism mode by donating and telling your peoples what’s what:

As always, thanks for listening. FILE UNDER: Generosity.


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.

prices include shipping

MUDD UP RADIO: special guest JOSH KUN

This Wednesday at 8pm on WFMU, USC professor Josh Kun will join me on Mudd Up!, to discuss the current wave of hyperviolent Mexican drug ballads (largely produced in L.A., it turns out) and to examine the question ‘why aren’t other songs being sung?’ Kun is a rare academic who manages to do inspirational work both in & out of the academy — such as TED-talking with Ozomatli, curating the Grammy Museum’s current exhibition Trouble in Paradise: Music and Los Angeles 1945-1975, and doing smart, passionate writing about Tijuana & the complex membrane that is the US-Mexico border. His knowledge of Mexican music goes deep… So tune in! Wednesday night, 8-9pm WFMU 91.1FM, streaming at

If you are unfamiliar with contemporary Mexican corridos in light of the drug war, Kun’s recent essay on what he’s termed ‘necrocorridos,’ is a good place to start. As is this video from Movimiento Alterado, where catchy and lush horn production sparkles alongside bejeweled bulletproof vests as the ‘Sanguinarios del M1’ sing from the assassin’s bloody viewpoint and proudly name the narcos they work for.

And check out the first few minutes of the Kun-Ozomatli “Edge of Urban Identity” TED talk! Josh on the mic, rapping about the new gospel of the monkey (“One of the 20 figures on the ancient ritual Mexican calendar, the monkey sported an ear-ring and wore a crew cut. He was a shapeshifter, a transformer, a changeling…”) It’s great:


A major anthology from friends over at El Proyecto Sonidero was just released! It’s a must-read for fans of cumbia, Mexican soundsystem culture, and anybody interested in how sonic and social spaces can form, enrich, and complexify each other. And there are nice photos, for all you gringos who can’t read Spanish. Contributors include Cathy Ragland, Mariana Delgado, and the book kicks off with a great sonidero prayer by Mexico City firebomb Lupita La Cigarrita. Quick excerpt:

Thanks, Lord, for giving me the gift of being a soundgirl.
Thanks because this profession has taught me how to love the world.
Thanks because for us sonideros there are no races or borders.
Thanks for giving me these hands – strong to setup my soundsystem and delicate to caress a record…

Download: Sonideros En Las Aceras, Véngase La Gozadera (PDF 15MB). They are working on a Kindle/e-book reader version as well, stay tuned…

Here’s “La Cumbia de los Saludos” by Monterrey band Javier Lopez y Sus Reyes Vallenatos — when I played this on my radio show, I referred to it as the type of cumbia that Jorge Borges would like: it’s essentially a list. A nicely heterotopic list of fans & crews (“toda la raza que apoya la musica colombiana”). The taxonomy begins about 2 minutes in.

[audio: Javier Lopez y Sus Reyes Ballenatos – La Cumbia de los Sonidos.mp3]

Javier Lopez y Sus Reyes Vallenatos – La Cumbia de los Saludos

Javier Lopez y sus Reyes Vallenatos were playing at the foundational 3ball club ArcoIris in downtown Monterrey on my second trip there, as I reported in the Fader feature on tribal guarachero, and John Francis Peters’ photo captures the kids holding up precisely the sort of shout-out saludo posters that are being read off in this song:

[photo: John Francis Peters for The Fader]

& an old favorite of mine, Jorge Meza’s Cumbia de los Sonidos, in which the bandleader shouts out a lengthy list of ‘sonido’ soundsystem crews.
Jorge Meza – Cumbia de los Sonidos

And intro text from el Proyecto Sonidero

Les presentamos el libro electrónico Sonideros en las aceras, véngase la gozadera, al cual aportaron generosamente el fruto de su conocimiento, su trabajo y por supuesto de su vida, porque todos los que colaboramos en esto no nos dedicamos a esto por obligación sino, por fortuna, debido al placer que representa en nuestras vidas. Muchas gracias por su confianza y por su amistad, estamos seguros que este esfuerzo será disfrutado por muchos lectores, y esperamos que también sea criticado.

El libro Sonideros en las aceras, véngase la gozadera lo pueden descargar gratuitamente desde AQUÍ (15 MB PDF)


Spank Rock, Hypnotic Brass, Hudson Mohawk, Novalima, Aidonia, Jahdan Blakkamoore, Popcaan, STS, Scuba, Brenmar, new Shabazz, Astral Social Club, and more – leading up to the voice I can’t get out of my head, Horace Andy. In other words: we went in deep during last night’s Mudd Up! radio.
And we’ll get even deeper next week with guest Josh Kun – more on that in a minute. Until then:

tracklist after the jump


On February 16th, friends at EL PROYECTO SONIDERO are holding a massive book presentation / party in Mexico City. As Mariana writes: “Así va a estar: una presentación con toda la banda del libro, y luego un baile con toda la Dinastía Perea del Peñón de los Baños, La Conga mismo, La Changa y el Sonido Martines. Sonideros 2000 streamingueará todo. Estamos bien emocionados.”

The book, Sonideros en las Aceras, Vengase a la Gozadera, is a beautiful piece of work with essays and photos. It will be available in the next few days as a free PDF. In the meantime, here is some slow & low Mexican New York cumbia sonidera to warm things up:

A soundboy’s lament. On the trials and tribulations of a being a sonidero.’Sonido Desastre’ means Disaster Sound.

Sonido Desastre – Soy Sonidero


This Wednesday, with the all-volunteer help of Spectacle Theater’s Akiva, Cassie D, and Zoe S, and WFMU’s Mike A, Bill B, and Dave E, we were able to continue our strange and occasionally bumpy journey down the path of live radio built from video clips & staged before an audience.

It’s an uncanny performance mode, talking to a roomful of bodies seated before Spectacle’s screen but knowing that many many more are listening at home, and attempting to create a path that works for both. Feels ‘experimental’ in the word’s basic sense: something for which the process and its possible outcomes aren’t yet established.

For the first of these radio-Spectacle nights, I screened Khaled & Cheb Mami rai comedy 100% Arabica, then in December it was Nass El Ghiwane documentary Transes.

And this Wednesday, on the first day of Black Mystery Month, I teamed up with Lamin Fofana, Chief Boima, and Old Money to host AFRO-SPECTACLE, two hours of live radio constructed entirely from DVDs & VCDs purchased in African-run stores in New York City, followed by a screening of Nollywood-NYC film God’s Own Country.

You can stream the broadcast portion of the evening here. Kola nuts, beer, and a crowd of friends are recommended to help recreate the in-room experience at Spectacle:

Are here are two selections from the evening: a jam Lamin & I have been into forever, a perfect song basically, based on an international collaboration between Sékouba Bambino & Kandia Kouyaté.(Lamin’s Brooklyn-purchased video version had much higher quality that this youtubery, alas.)

And my contribution to AFRO-SPECTACLE, a Don Cornelius homage in the form of David Bowie performing ‘Fame’ on Soul Train.


Black Mystery Month begins today! And by Kindly Kosmic Koincidence, friends & I are throwing an event in Brooklyn: AFRO-SPECTACLE. Come join us, *tonight*, Wednesday February 1st for:


On Wednesday February 1st, at 7pm, DJ Rupture and Lamin Fofana will host a special 2-hour live radio show from south Williambsburg’s Spectacle Theater, with guests Chief Boima and Old Money.

Following the live WFMU broadcast — built entirely from African music videos purchased in the cornerstores of NYC — we will screen God’s Own Country by director Femi Agbayewa. GOC presents the story of a young Nigeria lawyer who immigrates to NYC to discover that life in America is not like he hoped… As Boima explains, “It’s firmly in the Nollywood tradition. The story line is a New York story, and I think it’s the perfect context for the non-Nollywood initiated to get introduced to the industry. . . it is also referencing the tradition of the American hood gangster flick like Belly. Almost an amalgamation of the two.”

Palm wine and kola nuts are included with the $5 admission. Space is limited, so come early!