In 2010 I began to appreciate the trip that a good electronic mixtape can be, in any genre. I had more interactions with more DJs/mixers/selecters and began to understand something about the mechanics and back-ending involved in mixing a good mixtape. In December, I collaborated on an experimental mixtape of my own.
Here are a few solid mixes I got wind of this year, might have blogged about here or there, and listened to over and over in different states.
THE YEAR OF SALEM:
Salem knocked me out this year. Actually, starting late last year, when their We Make it Good mix for The Fader in November immediately made an impact on my understanding of the limits of mashing. What is it? Witch house? Gothic hip-hop? Just ... fucked up?
Whatever you want to call it, Salem's sound draws from, among other things, drugs, Chicago, and DJ Screw. That there's been such extravagant strokes of blacklash in some sectors I think legitimizes their position on the avant garde. Salem allows music to feed on our collective dark side.
Then they got mentioned for the first time in an article in The New York Times, and I paused. How could this sound possibly be commercialized? From 2010, I got into Salem's I BURIED MY HEART INNA WOUNDED KNEE and Raver Stay Wif Me.
TOY SELECTAH, WORLDWIDE:
In every sense, Toy Selectah made bridges and in-roads across the board with sounds from the south south south in his mixes and remixes in 2010. But, again, what do you call it? In an interview this year, he told me: "Fuck it, man, nothing. I think music now is no-genre. I'm pretty sure, I'm telling you this in 2010, that electronic music in 2010 is no-genre. It's everything together that fits together."
(I'll have more from that interview in the near future, promise.) I saw Toy play live this year at Circo Volador in the Jamaica district of D.F., at an event organized by the British Council in Mexico, and he was the bomb. Get Raverton Worldwide and Rimas y Razones, a perfectly curated bang trip into Spanish-language hip-hop.
* Asma of Nguzunguzu, via CLASS.
With the consolidation of sissy bounce out of New Orleans, the Mustache scene in L.A., and outlets like Dis, a ghettotech generated by and for the queer underground and its aural allies boomed in 2010. I'm not saying it's particularly "gay," but it is undeniably a certain culturally aligned sound. I love how it takes the new approaches to techno and house and wraps them over vintage and contemporary R&B and screwed-down spoken-word lines like: "Excuse me? Do you fuck as well as you dance?"
That's from a mix by Hearing AIDS that dropped at Dis in August. I also got further into Total Freedom, Kingdom, and many others. To grab, get this great sound-trip at XLR8R by Teengirl Fantasy, and the Valentine's Day-inspired Moments in Love by Nguzunguzu. For a trip down memory lane -- meaning what you listened to on the radio in middle school and high school -- get Mishka is for Lovers by DJ Skeet Skeet.
* Guarachero kids in Monterrey, by John Francis Peters, via The Fader.
CUMBIA POR MIS VIEJOS:
Toy Selectah is nudging a new wave of meta-cumbia into the center, but he's not doing it alone. There was an explosion of new sounds in 2010 from crate-diggers raking up old cumbia and related genres from Latin America, as well as from Africa and the Pacific. I'm only beginning to scratch the surface. Start here. Then hit La Pelanga, La Familia Dub, Dutty Artz, La Cumbia de mis Viejos, Club Fonograma, and Super Sonido.
My quick take-homes in this realm in 2010 were from DJ Lengua, aka Eamon Ore-Giron of the Mas Exitos scene on L.A.'s Eastside: his Mota and Oye mixes. The new hybrid tribal guarachero, originally out of Monterrey, finally sparked up in Mexico City in 2010. The teams behind #401, NAAFI, and La Oficina Live are leading the way in that general zone. I'm following Paul Marmota, new to Mexico City via Chile.
Again, I'm only now getting into this complex and deep soundworld, and I look forward to what emerges in the cumbia, tribal, global ghettotech, whatever-you-wanna-call-it realm in 2011. Keep an ear on what these guys keep an ear on: DJ Rupture, Ghetto Bassquake, and Wayne & Wax.
So ... What'd I miss? What'd you get into? What's next? Ultimately, what I love about the modern mixtape is that it's free. Music mixed and mashed for the sake of the form; there's no profit involved and, technically, some is being stolen. (As far as I know, rights are not routinely sought to use samples or obscure tracks.)
Call it what it is. And however you roll, have a great new year! Llegale, 2011!!