Rhythm 'n' Roots

Musical Explorations.

The fact I am posting this probably means I have too much time on my hands and am spending too much of that time staring at my laptop. The inspiration for this post is the twenty or so firefox tabs of blogs, myspaces, downloads, mixes and pure gold I have found on a recent trawl through the google ocean! After having lived in BA for five months and travelled a little in Latin America, (Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Bolivia..) I have become submerged in cumbia (more like it drowned in it; ch-ch-ch, ch-ch-ch!) Latin America's unifying soundtrack, a rhythm which came from Africa, travelled to Colombia and now floats in streets from Lima to Mexico City.

What has stoked my interest is the particular evolution of the sound in Buenos Aires. Before 2000 Argentine Cumbia was associated with a placid Romantic style. However, after 2001's economic crisis, a sub-genre appeared under the umbrella of Cumbia Villera (cumbia from the villas; the poorest areas of the city). Though criticised by many as a style which glorified drugs, violence and crime and held in contempt by the upper classes, it was a social phenomenon which grew directly out of the crisis, felt hardest by the poorest. The music is an expression of life in BA's slums much as Baile Funk was in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro.

Damas Gratis, pioneers of Villera sound.

Eight years on a new wave of artists influenced by Cumbia Villera and brought together by ZZK Records are experimenting with the sound and pushing it in a thousand directions: think cumbia remixes of Animal Collective, Clipse, minimal cumbia or even cumbia vs Peruvian Huayno! They are taking the rhythms of the street and making them global, bassy and funky. They also have awesome flyer designs:

Courtesy of the world-wide-web and the ease of travelling, mutant cumbia is escaping the continent and taking the underground, dance hungry world by storm. Helped by artists with world-wide appeal and "nuff-respect", (super-star-ghetto-bass crew: Diplo, D/J Rupture, Uproot Andy, Radioclit etc) the tracks are reaching ears in New York, Montreal, Norway and even London. ZZK are currently touring the US for the second time and set to play at this summers Coachella.

What you have to remember and what Grant Dull, the co-founder of ZZK explained is that independent record labels and distribution is near non-existent in Latin America, when compared to a city such as London or NY, for it's size BA is surprisingly musically homogeneous. Therefore the growth of the scene has been dependent on the Internet, networking, blogging, myspace, mashups and mixtapes. Luckily for them and us, the net-underground has latched onto it. I am latching on to them and adding my line to the web.

Here's how you get into it:

@ ZZK Records download their free mixtapes, scour the site for free MP3s, mashups etc, find something you like: buy it!

@ There is a world of music blogs which keep their fingers on the global pulse and have MP3s, mixes etc:

Diplo's Mad Decent

DJ Rupture's Mudd Up!

Matt Shadarteks Dutty Artz

XLR8R Magazine


La Family Dub



Look out for some updates, posts and new music on this blog! A mix is in the mix after the recent mix I did mixing up deepstep and techno (Download here!)

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3 Reply to "Cumbia, hay que le gusta la cumbia!"

La Family Dub on 10 June 2009 at 17:53

Ese lowflyingowl, gracias por la mencion en el Rhythm 'n' Roots blog, chingon el blog. Estamos en contacto. Big respect! LFD Crew


vince the prince on 18 December 2009 at 07:35

ola amigos, also:

http://generationbass.com - home of Sonido del Principe and loads of cumbiaaaa!


Anonymous on 9 April 2010 at 21:01

Those "Cumbias" you're talking about have little or no resemblance to the original, authentic Cumbia from the Colombain Caribbean. Cumbia is not from Africa. Maybe you should do some research on it and not from Wikipedia. Cumbia was born in the Colombian Caribbean from the mixture of indigenous flutes, african drums brought by slaves to the Colombian Caribbean during Spanish colonial times, and Spanish influence on the melody & costumes used for dancing "foloric" cumbia. Cumbia was orchestrated in the 1940's and became quite popular throughout Latin America. Some countries like Argentina, Mexico and Peru adopted the "Cumbia" and supressed its rythmic complexity, mixing it with different regional styles, creating such styles such as "Mexican cumbia", "Peruvian Cumbia" and "Cumbia Villera". To most Colombians these "sub-genres" are considered downgrading, insulting and distorting. If you want to hear real Cumbia, try checking out "El Combo de las Estrellas" or "La Sonora Dinamita".


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