It’s taken a week to pare down a list of 50 or so tracks into a digestible 10.
We came up with a rich range of genres, sounds and cultures coming from Australia to Chile and from Paterson, New Jersey to Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. The term “world music” is abhorrent for many reasons, but it’s impossible not to notice and comment on the truly global nature of contemporary club forms. In Los Angeles, it’s easy to catch kuduro, grime, Jersey club and New Orleans bounce in a single night out, and that appears to be increasingly true in many locales around the United States and beyond.
Thanks to sites like Hulkshare, Kasimp3, Dancehall Arena, Bandcamp and, yes, SoundCloud, insular scenes are as accessible as ever, but we shouldn’t overlook the influence of the tastemaker – the Total Freedom or Mr. Mitch types consistently breaking down genre boundaries and reasserting the role of the DJ in the proliferation of music.
And while it always seems to come back to this, there’s no better place to catch these trends and conflagrations than on the radio, whether FM or online. BBC AZN Network on Radar, Fade to Mind on Rinse and Jerk Sauce on Berlin Community Radio are three places where I find myself consistently thrown for a loop and where, while listening, the world feels a lot smaller than it does during the rest of the week. Beyond the (important) political ramifications of a “global brown” movement, it’s a pleasure to get up and dance to music that would have never been paired together 25, or even five years ago. It’s easy to get bogged down in the sad state of the music industry, but sometimes following an obvious cliché and appreciating the little things makes it all worth it.
Resla & Spaceseeds
From Chile and Mexico respectively, Resla and Spaceseeds are two producers we know virtually nothing about, but they come correct on ‘Pressure’, a tresillo rhythm-based skipper that wouldn’t be out of place on a NAAFI or Her Records release. Its melodies build exactly the type of melancholy-meets-dystopia atmosphere we’ve come to expect from Kid Antoine, and at three quick minutes, the name ‘Pressure’ perfectly describes the emotion elicited throughout.
‘Electric Body’ (Suda Voltage Mix)
If anything, the Her Records Boiler Room from a few months ago proved that the South London crew are still rapidly reinventing their aesthetic, refusing to be pinned down by their most popular tracks. Sudanim’s take on A$AP Rocky’s ‘Electric Body’ sounds like nothing he’s done to date, exploring both a new tempo and a more full-bodied approach to the metallic clang found on his remix of ‘0 to 100’ and his own ‘The Link’. It’s obvious at this point that we’re all-in with the Her crew, but it’s still a pleasure to witness tangible progress in their output.
‘Only Trapped Below 42 Dunjunz’ (Duct-Taped By Aspa)
While Air Max ’97 gets most of the attention heaped on Melbourne’s clubESC, it’s important to note that Aspartame and Rap Simmons are two of the better Australian DJs pushing the more eclectic, unconventional side of club music. For his part, Aspartame is a bootleg wizard, continually grafting together rap, R&B and sparse drum tracks and emerging with magnificent solo constructions. His latest melds Nicki Minaj’s still-hot ‘Only’ with Neana and Ra’s Al’s ’42 Dunjunz’, the result taking on an underwater Jersey remix sound with those xylophone notes clinking throughout.
‘Hometown Flory’ (Gqomu Remake)
Part of Gqom Oh!’s excellent new sampler (which also features Mafia Boyz and Cruel Boyz), Citizen Boy’s redux of Adele’s ‘Hometown Glory’ exemplifies everything I love about the South African sound, from the deliciously curled vocal snippets to the whipping percussion and hypnotizing repetition. And despite the trite source material, Citizen Boy slowly twists it into his ever-building framework, similar to the way DJ Nate would manifest an emo sample in his best footwork tracks. With more club producers and labels taking interest in the wildly original sounds of Durban, crossover in the next few months (or years) is inevitable, and we can only hope it’s approached with the tact and conscientious spirit of Goon Club Allstars and Gqom Oh!.
This Is Kuduro celebrate their one-year anniversary with tracks from DJs Di Ghetto member DJ N.K., DJ Kappa Jota and more. The former gets the nod for best track here, coming correct with the unstoppably bizarre ‘O Matumbo’, which gets as many points for its zipper-esque synth squeaks as it does for N.K.’s inimitable rhythmic abilities.
Zutzut x Lechuga Zafiro x De La Ghetto
It was virtually impossible to choose a single track from Mexico City collective NAAFI’s second annual Pirata compilation, but for brevity’s sake we’ve landed on Zutzut and Lechuga Zafiro’s take on reggaeton star De La Ghetto. Hailing from Mexico and Uruguay respectively, Zutzut and Lechuga Zafiro are two of NAAFI’s more recent signees and both are loaded with potential, highlighted here with their solipsistic, throbbing take on De La Ghetto. NAAFI always appear to have new Mexican, Central and South American acts to trot out and while it might look easy, the team behind the DF outpost are some of the hardest working curators in contemporary club music.
‘Spirito Sarrando’ (w/ MC Marcelly & G. Dufay / J. Savall)
Like many who aren’t lucky enough to live in Berlin, I was introduced to the Janus collective by way of Lotic’s mega-collage ‘Damsel In Distress’ and while it has been incredible to watch the crew grow into more traditional releases and reach international acclaim, that transgressive/DIY spirit is still the crew’s defining feature. KABLAM’s recent baile funk-meets-classical composition collage piece feels so necessary this summer, both in terms of bringing the collage form back to the club (it bangs) and as a reminder that the least heralded member of the trio to date has a well of wildly exciting material to come. It’s not often that you’ll find one of Rio’s most exciting MCs and a Renaissance-era composer in the same room, but it’s a fair shout that KABLAM should be presiding over the affair each and every time.
Thast x DJ MM x The Phantom
‘Rep Ur County x Pisces MM’ (Baby Face Thrilla Blend)
Floridian MC Thast’s kinetic flow has slowly begun to infiltrate the club music world, the sparse production and chant choruses on tracks like ‘Stop Hatin’, ‘Fuck U’ and ‘Rep Ur County’ being perfect fodder for peak-time sets. The sparse production on Thast’s tracks also make them ideal for remixing and bootlegging, with Sydney-based DJ Baby Face Thrilla being the first (to my knowledge) to throw her hat in the ring. Utilizing Miss Modular’s remix of The Phantom’s ‘Pisces’, Baby Face Thrilla first turns ‘Rep Ur County’ into a languorous call out anthem before MM’s rework kicks into gear halfway through, at which point Thast’s flow takes on a life of its own over the frenzied pulses and lurching low end. It’s an exciting premise to imagine Thast on various producers’ work and this bootleg gives us a little sneak peek into what could come with a few cogs moving into place.
Smutlee & Serocee
An unexpected late entry into the ‘Beelzedub’ remix pile, this take on Paleman’s 2014 hit features Smutlee cutting up the horn-driven production with aplomb and Serocee laying down some dirty vocals. ‘UR Body’ is snipped from The SAS EP, the producer-MC duo’s latest project which also features reworks of classics from Dizzee Rascal and Wiley. As an explicit dancehall/grime crossover effort, the EP works well, and while the tunes might not be rewriting any holy books it’s always a pleasure to rinse original takes on these timeless tracks.
‘Ai Ai Ai’ (DJ Merks, Cueheat, DJ Assassin & DL3 Remix)
It wouldn’t be right to round up the month’s best club tracks without touching on Jersey, and DJ Merks, Cueheat, DJ Assassin and DL3’s remix of baile funk child star MC Pikachu’s ‘Ai Ai Ai’. As all true fans of Bmore and Jersey know, corny tracks deserve to get heard just as much as their serious counterparts, and while ‘Ai Ai Ai’ isn’t exactly the Spongebob theme song, it certainly lightens up the conversation.