What does Mexico City sounds like, right now? Maybe, from at least two particular perspectives, a little like this. It's "The Sound of Mexico City," a mixtape I co-curated at the invitation of sound designer Daniel Perlin on the soundscape of D.F., for the Italian design and urbanism magazine Domus. Perlin led the project and mixed the mix.
Throughout, I read a portion of "Down & Delirious in Mexico City" in which I rhapsodize on the city's noise. (It's the first time I've read any section of the book for audio online publication, so I'm a little nervous right now. Will the listener/reader get this particular excerpt's sense of exaggeration, the overblown sound-pyschosis, the humor?)
In addition, there's a pretty haunting piece in there by sound artist Rogelio Sosa. It includes the infamous clip of former President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz saying he was "most proud" of his role in the crackdown on the 1968 student movement.
Perlin and I had to turn around the mix pretty quickly, but I think we managed to string together a decent sample of various musical genres that define the D.F. soundscape right now, cumbia, tribal guarachero, ska, rockabilly, hip-hop. Thank you to the artists whom I personally contacted and agreed to supply a track. They are ...
The Kumbia Queers, whose garage-y lo-fi sound captures a certain "right now" aesthetic that bridges cumbia, punk, and queerness -- particularly of the female sort. The Rebel Cats, the slick maestros of Mexican rockabilly; they play tight and sport a good look. MC Luka, one of many hiphoperos doing it big in the Gran Tenochtitlan; I particularly like Luka because he addresses transnational cholo/barrio culture -- and spits so good overall. Sonido Sonoramico, one of several cumbia bands who play somewhere in town just about every week of the year, easily in the elite of this street subculture. And finally Maldita Vecindad, true OGs of the old-school ska/fusion scene in Mexico City, which in my view operates as an umbrella for many subsequent genres and groups. They've been at it for two decades now and remain committed to a sociopolitical vision of music and its ability to liberate and build community. Respeto.
In the near future, with more time than this project allowed, I'll be linking up more artists who I think define the sound of Mexico City as I've lived it these past three years. I'll also be posting, soon, on my "Top Ten Mixtapes of 2010."
Nos vemos en la calle, cabrones!