The better a song is, the harder it is to craft a remix that does it justice. And sometimes the best remixes are the lightest — the laziest — at the level of execution.

On the other side: my inbox is increasingly clogged with promo “EPs” built from two original songs with at least four remixes, most of which are mediocre in the exact same way. It’s like the producers and the remixers only feel comfortable expressing one idea, the same idea, an idea they learned from reading blogs, the same blogs. I love music, but I also love silence, and the delete button too.

But back to the good songs.

As I wrote before, “You can think about a song – a good song – as a miraculous moment when all the dissonances that frame a person’s life drop out of sight long enough to see how it looks without them. So when a band you like hits that groove, sometimes all you can do is listen, because that moment will be leaving.”

Here are two such songs with their recent remix/edits. First off, “Jarabi” from the gorgeous Afrocubism album:

[audio:https://negrophonic.com/mp3/06 – Jarabi.mp3]

Afrocubism – Jarabi

…which gets a kickkicksnare treatment from Subsuelo, who rebrand their creation “Cinco Pasos.” Five steps. Two bodies. One song which is endless, and nobody we trust wouldn’t dance to it. How can real joy be optional?

[audio:https://negrophonic.com/mp3/07 Cinco Pasos.mp3]

Subsuelo – Cinco Pasos

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For round two, Caribou (as Daphni) takes on Thomas Mapfumo.

Thing about Thomas Mapfumo & The Blacks Unlimited is that they are even better than their name, even better than their album covers. The style is Chimurgenga, which emerged from Mapfumo reconfiguring traditional Shona music for modern niceties such as the electric guitar, back when he was a Rhodesian chicken farmer.

[audio:https://negrophonic.com/mp3/01 Shumba.mp3]

Thomas Mapfumo & The Blacks Unlimited – Shumba

How can you remix this — and not be an elephant in the flower garden? You can’t. So Canadian producer Caribou treads lightly. He pitches “Shumba” up a bit. Then he stretches it out to more than twice the original length. The resulting tune is released on a 12″ called ‘Edits‘ (not remixes). Fair enough.


Daphni (Caribou) – Mapfumo

This game — original and edit, version and stretch — could go on all day. It could go on forever. It does. Frictions of power and access and stewardship notwithstanding, it’s one of the the only games we musicians know how to play with each other.



[Filastine and friends in Copenhagen]

Something’s in the air this fall. I’m seized with a terrible sadness at the passing of things. (Reading heavy Uruguayan writer Juan Carlos Onetti’s Los Adioses is not helping. “No es que crea imposible curarse, sino que no cree en el valor, en la trascendencia de curarse”…). Maybe it’s the cool weather, the planetary alignments, my mysterious heart beating in & out of sync with your mysterious heart, some odd combination of forces which shudder and cough as the new season begins.

Here’s a song which I released on Soot two years back, by Filastine. Fits the mood. Flamenco swirls pitch contemplative, lean elegiac…



Filastine – The Sinking Ship (from Dirty Bomb)

Grey Filastine discusses the recording session, or you can just check the video — note microphone taped to cardboard box:

Last I blogged about Filastine was his Copenhagen Sound Swarm project – a high-volume multichannel bike-mounted soundsystem to be used inside the Bike Bloc during the Copenhagen Climate summit.


[Sound Swarm bicycles in preparation]

Months later he has upped a frustratingly short description/documentation of what happened… (Why does it seem that that the people making the best memories have the least time/inclination to ‘record’ and ‘share’ them? This may be a blessing). Here’s an excerpt:

The Sound Swarm is a rolling loudspeaker orkestra, a loose choreography of bicycles who together form a distributed mobile sound system to be used for direct action interventions or just ripping a hole in the fabric of everyday life.

Aggregated into sub-swarms according to our tools: ants with megaphones hats, birds with home-made resonant 5-gallon bucket speaker systems, fish with a collection of 80’s boomboxes, and bees with megaphones mounted on tall crutches. Each of these groups was fed a distinct audio channel via four fm transmitters mounted on the queen bee, a type of chariot built from two tall bikes with a cockpit in the center for the sound controller. The queen is armed with so many batteries, cables, gadgets, and antennas that it looked more lunar landing craft than anything for use on this planet. One of the festival curators called it “something from the next century”. We can only hope she is right, that the art of the future will be made from junk, powered by human sweat, and defy the law.

. . . we rolled off curbs, over cobblestones, through grass, dodging police, sometimes cowering under a plastic sheet during brief rain showers, while controlling five-channels of sound spread across thirty moving speakers in a chaotic mass of hundreds of bicycles pouring through the dark streets of an unfamiliar city.


Eyebeam Open Studios, this Friday 3-6pm in the Chelsea space. I will present a cumbia research project I’m working on as one of Eyebeam’s resident artists this season. La Congona New Cumbia will culminate in a mixtape CD + bilingual poster, and be documented on our blog of the same name.

So feel free to drop by and see/say what’s up. A very diverse group of people will be showing their work-in-progress. For example: while I’m doing weird cumbia distribution/circulation mapping & hotwiring bootleg networks, Ted Southern, pictured below, is building honest-to-God astronaut gloves. (the last pair he designed outperformed NASA gloves on NASA’s own tests). Astronaut gloves!

Open Studios continue on Saturday, although I won’t be able to attend.



I’m playing in Washington D.C. tomorrow, Saturday April 17. First time in Distrito Federal! It’s a Dutty Artz thing: Matt Shadetek and Jahdan Blakkamoore are coming down with me & we intend to shake things up. Info.


I’ve been checking a lot of data visualization projects lately. (I tend towards data narrativization, truth be told). This one is particularly fresh. And sobering:

selling out 550


Busy on tour, the blog gets a bit neglected… Andy & I are playing Tuesday through Sunday, a show (or two) each night. This much real-world sound translates into online silence (I don’t have an iPhone).

Warding off that soundlessness, here are two ultra-fresh new jams ::: MAJOR LAZER ft. Jahdan & a SWEDISH PIRATE CUMBIA REMIX by yours truly.

jahdan front

[Jahdan Blakkamoore]

first up: June is a good month for Dutty Artz’s Jahdan Blakkamoore, he features on Diplo and Switch’s reggae project ‘Major Lazer’ (album streaming now, out next week), and Jahdan also drops some verses on a Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry 12″. Here’s our man nicing up a Major Lazer tune.

[audio:MajorLazer-Cash Flow_ft_Jahdan_Blakkamoore.mp3]

Major Lazer – Cash Flow feat. Jahdan Blakkamoore

It’s a pleasant surprise to hear Dip & co. workin with JD in a conscious roots reggae mode (JD’s roots roots run deep). Cash Flow is a very satisfying appetizer to the incoming Jahdan Blakkamoore album Buzzrock Warrior (produced by Matt Shadetek, myself, and the Dutty Artz family, out this September on Gold Dust). Which will crush everything.

+ + +

I’m in love with D.F., Mexico City. Forget leafy Berlin, let’s all move there, sísísí!

When Geraldine Juárez, one of my favorite piratas/artistas, asked me to remix a Swedish piracy jingle to accompany a video of Mexico City’s young Internet Embassador, Mila, playing in an Embajada Pirata / Embassy of Piracy — made from repurposed US postal service envelopes and constructed in a D.F. park — I said claro k si! (Piracy? Distribution. I have been known to defend the pig.)


Cumbia de L@s Piratas – DJ Rupture refix

Cumbia DNA courtesy of Discos Barba Azul. Guitar by Andy Moor. Swedish Pirate anthem remix files here.

Speaking of Sweden – as Europe swings even further to the right, at least the Swedish Pirate Party won a seat in European Parliment! Kinda crazy! But nowhere near as crazy as, say, Dutch far-right or British National Party gains.. Anyhow, before we resume fighting the power, check Geraldine’s sweet video with my sweaty cumbia refix soundtrack:

Embajada Pirata México


NYC’s latin radio was killing it this weekend. I’ve got evidence (mostly culled from La Mega).

Exhibit A starts off w/ ersatz Brazilian bassline then goes into a Max Romeo (Prodigy sample-source) edit which moves into a Mavado ‘So Special’ speedy house/baltimore remix thingy, and on. Heavy ‘buttbending’ mixology throughout. The Don Omar “Cuando yo me muera” jam – can anybody ID this?


MuddUp Radio Rip – Exhibit A

If that’s not enough – to raise the bar a few notches – here’s 18 minutes of merengue de la kalle / mambo violento / Dominican gabba. Omega owns this session.


MuddUp Radio Rip – Exhibit B



Grey Filastine spent the holiday season doing an incredible DIY tour of Indonesia. Better yet, he’s writing about it (rather eloquently), posting video and photos — in short, Filastine has started a blog, and it looks to be a good one: Filastine Frequency.

here are 2 dreamy floaty tracks from his Burn It album

(buyable: eMusic | Amazon | iTunes US , UK)


Filastine – Palmares


Filastine – Ja Helo





Hello kitty kitty kitty … Are you an orphan? Are you Sudanese? Chadian? Are you a sub-Saharan African suffering from mild mental retardation? Are you an African woman suffering from the African male? Would you like an Oxfam biscuit? Organic antiretrovirals? Have you been raped? You might not know it, but you are an orphan, a refugee. Can we fly 103 of you to France to be loved? We can breastfeed you. We can make you a Darfur orphan. Even if you are not. If you are black and under 10 years old, please come talk to us.
Come kitty kitty.

— Binyavanga Wainaina, from “Oxfamming the whole black world


i’ll be dropping a guest DJ set @ The Let Out w/ The Fader crew on East Village Radio tonite (friday), sometime in the 2nd half of the show, which runs 6-8pm. This is a warmup. I’ll be playing all African jams. Warming up for what? the Fader Africa issue release party!! – details & date said quietly, but: Johannesburg’s Blk Jks (an African ‘rock’ band who sound waaay better than all the ‘African-sounding’ rock bands), Eddie Stats , me, and more…

[Blk Jks “Lakeside” video]


so I was talking with Sonido Martines the other day, and he was upset that a M.I.A. remix he did that gets played alot at Zizek ended up on Diplo’s blog without any mention of Sonido. Here’s a version with metadata intact.

MIA – Paper Planes (Sonido Martines’ Paper Guacharaca remix)

It’s hard to know when the data gets corrupted. You can even think about remix culture as an ongoing exploration of the pleasures of rough data, scrambled bits, a thing’s integrity compromised by dirty outside info (or the impossibility of a thing’s integrity made apparent, take your pick).

But i mostly think of remixes as a series of decisions (even moreso than original music). Taken or not taken. The song already exists, what will you do to change it, and how much change do you need to enact before you can call it yours?

What makes the Sonido Martines remix so radical, in my opinion, is the flagrant simplicity of it: he added a short guacharaca loop to the original… and nothing else. One decision was made. One. The 1-bar loop doesnt even change or drop out, its just there. For the entire song. And, deservedly, he puts his name on it!

It helps, obviously, that Sonido’s decision involves a guacharaca* loop and (critically) not a baltimore-break loop or a disco-electro loop or rap vocal or any of the overrused initial decisions that kids turn to when doing a remix. The cultural context for his remix is foregrounded (loud in the mix, constant, repetitive, inescapable, and, before too long, invisible, inaudible). This is remix as placement, building context – even if you can’t pronounce guacharaca and don’t know what the loping scraping rhythm does in its other manifestations…

Screwed music & cumbias rebajadas (get Sonidos’ screwed cumbia mix for my radio show, thnx 2 WTC) also have that singular decision — slow it down. And honestly, given the wealth of possibilities offered by digital audio software, making a remix that involves only one decision is often a surprisingly lucid declaration of intent / intensity / focus. In this sense DJ Screw and Sonido Martines are philosophical remixers/producers: thinking seriously about one thing, thinking that one thing’s implications through, fully.

*speaking of guacharacas, Jerónimo directed me to this vallenato youtubery featuring incredible guacharaca and accordeon solos.