Recently, Munchi, everyone’s favorite future-forward, reticent, underground and free-spirited dance music producer, posted on Facebook a simple message: “Moombahton is dead?” In three words, he put forth the idea that most anyone associated with the movement behind Dave Nada’s accidental invention that arguably birthed the “slowed (shout out to Toronto)” movement in underground and big room house is feeling, but is afraid to place forth as a serious notion to consider. But, since probably the best producer the sub-genre ever produced placed it on the table, let’s discuss this idea, and, even further, let’s agree with him. Do Androids Dance is gaining a reputation for not being afraid of befriending the 800-pound gorillas in the rapidly re-defining EDM universe, and this one is probably the friendliest. Thus, this article isn’t going to be sad, it’ll actually be fun, and ultimately have a happy ending.
As a matter of full disclosure, I’m probably the best equipped person in the world to write this article. I’m from Washington, DC, and attended every sweaty Moombahton Mondays party at hole-in-the-wall dive bar Velvet Lounge in the sweltering summer of 2010 as Dave Nada, Matt Nordstrom, DJ Sabo, Uproot Andy and others played sets that ultimately laid the groundwork for what exactly the sound was to become. I’ve also attended more Moombahton Massives at DC’s U Street Music Hall than Dave Nada has (28-27, lol), and at a time, was even the Editor-in-Chief of the short-lived moombahton.com. I also am a co-owner of Vamos Promo, the world’s very first moombahton-centric public relations and marketing firm. I also host a weekly online radio show – the Vamos Hour – wherein I play moombahton in a manner similar to playing top-40 pop music. I also unabashedly love “EDM,” and definitely cried when I heard that Swedish House Mafia were breaking up. Furthermore, I just finished spending two years as Editor-in-Chief of hip-hop blog BrooklynBodega.com, and both own t-shirts for and know the history of Plato’s Retreat, the Paradise Garage and Wigan Casino. Knowing when, how, and why moombahton died is easy. Knowing when, how and why it’ll come back is certainly easy as well, and I can do both in three simple steps.
1. Moombahton died because its boring.
Yes, moombahton is boring as hell. In having minimal connection to popping molly, dying, African-American culture, white global misappropriation of black culture and/or mainstream rap music, it’s incredibly boring. Let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that many of the things we’re celebrating in “EDM” are at all okay and in any way honestly reflect the history of dance music. Dance was once a culture that welcomed and celebrated the underground rise of gays, blacks, Latinos and people viewed as society’s “others.” It’s why white dudes in Chicago said “DISCO SUCKS” and burned records in center field at Comiskey Park. Ironically, 34 years later, there are more white people in America shucking, jiving, “coon dancing,” and portraying “Stepin Fetchit” for the cameras shining brightly on dance music than black people and marginalized “others” than ever before. By comparison, moombahton forces people to be less ironically racist and more racially aware of the unified pangaea that digital culture has made a world that can be unified by the dembow riddim. If current standards tell us anything, nobody in America (or anywhere else for that matter) has time for that. Frolicking about in the irony-laden ashes of the burning Rome that is American post-racialism is clearly more fun than seriously dancing to arguably the best of sounds in a now uniquely globalized dance music culture.
2. Moombahton died because Sazon Booya broke up and Heartbreak and Munchi aren’t a tandem anymore.
Whatever happened in Miami is whatever happened in Miami, but the idea that the once NYC-based tandem no longer produce music as an item was a severe blow to moombahton. Given that mainstream EDM (especially in America) is predicated on stereotypical fanatics who do “mainstream” things like watch music videos, follow trends set by TV commercials, tune in to MTV Clubland, drink double-digit numbers of energy-drink laced vodka beverages at NYC’s Pacha and enjoy big, noisy sounds that sound big like rap but feel deep like house, Sazon Booya were their heroes. Losing the developing-into-mainstream-star duo as they neared their initial height of popularity left as many “what ifs” as contemplating what would’ve happened if NCAA-legend Len Bias had not overdosed on cocaine and played for the NBA’s Boston Celtics with Larry Bird. It was a huge blow whose after-effects are still felt in moombahton’s mainstream rise to this day.
David Heartbreak and Munchi’s intrinsically-linked rise through the underground is the stuff of legend. Munchi was the Dutch-Dominican wunderkind while Heartbreak was the American rapper, and both made their way by making and breaking rules at an impressive pace. Their series of collaborative EPs set a progressive standard for moombahton that made it more than a quaint Monday night party or a funny little accident that placed Dave Nada and Nadastrom into dance’s mainstream. It’s entirely arguable that between Heartbreak’s “King Kong” and Munchi’s remix of Datsik’s “Firepower,” moombahton would have no aggressive edge. As well, between Heartbreak’s “Shy Day” and Weeknd remixes, or Munchi’s “Me and My Bitch” and “Hope,” moombahton would likely have no soulful rhythm and blues. Without the duo, there’s a lot of sexy Latin style, hip-house swagger, fun and folky moments, an obvious pop hit or two, but no clear-cut mythological moments that could inspire just about anyone to create just about anything. Heartbreak no longer produces moombahton, and well, Munchi…yeah. He’s why this article’s being written in the first place.
3. Moombahton died because “PLURNT” is not “PLUR.”
Moombahton (and its bevy of sonic relatives based in the histories of red, yellow, black and brown people) are the future of the “PLUR” movement based in the “happy hardcore” remnant notions of peace, love, unity and respect. The best recent internet trend comes from Diplo and Flosstradamus inventing and favoring the use of the term “PLURNT” and removing the rap-based, weed smoking, molly poppin’ and sweatin’, jumping and raging current EDM era from the good vibes, dance culture-centric ridiculousness and big smiles associated with the history of “PLUR.” Anyone associated with moombahton or who has attended a moombahton-centric party can explain that the vibe is wild and deep. The impetus is on sex over drugs, underground over commercial and reality over vapid, temporal notions. Yes, that’s sweat dripping from the ceiling at a 100+ degree U Street Music Hall (it’s underground and ventilation is scarce – especially in the summer), yes, that’s Dave Nada proposing to Jen Lasher (happened at the ninth Moombahton Massive event), yes, that’s a pair of underwear on the ground (happens quite often after Moombahton Massives), and yeah, that’s a whole crowd of people calling you an asshole (“Yo! Pendejas!”) or wondering exactly how Big Pun somehow ends up at every moombahton event? (“who the fuck invited Pun!?!?!?”) In fully embracing ideals from non-dance genres and cultures but not remembering to incorporate dance as well, EDM has lost one of its core ideals. Yes, folks do get carted out of moombahton parties, too. We’re undeniably in a battle with people lacking an education about the dangers of drugs using very powerful ones and losing. However, there’s something in embracing styles and genres that force people to slow down and get real that may have some answers for what’s ailing EDM-at-present. Capitalizing on this very “PLUR” notion of what moombahton has wrought certainly is worthwhile in the massive re-education necessary for the future of EDM.
If moombahton is dead from the outside looking in, then EDM is dead on the inside and lacks a soul. The happy synergy of where EDM should be headed involves EDM’s current love affair with rap’s funky flair blending with the underground’s current obsession with organic and bass-heavy sounds derived from native and ethnic cultures. If EDM is best represented at the moment by a fist-pumping man or a girl wildly twerking and catching on fire, then it’s rather obvious that this stupid genre must immediately find itself. In doing many things – including exhuming moombahton from a premature grave – EDM can begin its path to resurrection.