MOOMBAH-WEEK: Kansas City slows the beat of America’s heartland
by Marcus K. Dowling
This is a tale of reckless American punk club music with international influences. Less than 1000 days old, moombahton’s rise is a stunning tale of Dave Nada’s invention blending with technology, a perfect example of evolution and diversity, a now global sound that’s everything and nothing at the same time. “Past present future music,” it invokes cumbia, dancehall, house, disco, hip hop, dubstep, soul, rock, punk, and so much more. With the nascent genre’s only hard and fast rule being that the pace cannot leave over 108-112 BPM, it’s the height of controlled anarchy, an underground movement turning hip partiers into a sensual minded two-stepping army. It’s peace, love, unity and respect remixed, a brand new thing for a brand new dance music generation.
Kansas City’s importance to moombahton proves that the truth is deceptively obvious. Smack dab in the middle of the country, if you contemplated historical stereotypes and called tropical bass’ Midwest success the Missouri Miracle, you’d be entirely wrong. The influence of hip hop and R & B is now nationally pervasive. Soul samples inspire both Kanye West and Taylor Swift, and an entirely new generation of American youth are likely to find the same spiritual influence from Willie Nelson as Snoop Dogg. To find moombahton producers in the heartland who are moving crowds with swinging, Latin-inspired soul gifted with a house music impulse isn’t shocking, its expected. Brent Tactic, B-Stee, Archi and a gang of slowly improving fellow auteurs? If moombahton is next, then these men represent the next smoothest crew of local producers in America.
Belief is power. Brent Tactic will be the first to tell you that “people at clubs here still ask me to play music that is faster. I look at them like they’re crazy and tell them that this is what is hot!” DJs breaking new music and creating locally viable scenes. In an era of ClearChannel radio and PR executives rapidly stratifying the blogosphere, its an amazing concept. Tactic’s Think 2wice Records is an independent label now embracing moombahton, and in order to create permanence, taking things slow. “We’re doing things right. A lot of producers want to flood the Internet with music. We want to nurture moombahton, get it into the right hands, put it in magazines and establish it. That’s important. We can’t forget that.”
DJs Archi and B-Stee once again prove that when hip hop producers touch house music with an open mind, magic happens. In under five released tracks, they’re quietly setting a template that will likely define what moombahton’s most mainstreamed urban crossover will consistently sound like. After 7’s “Can’t Stop” is a beloved staple of pop’s trip through the heart of late 80s R & B. The yearning vocals are ripe for a house interpretation, and at moombahton’s golden tempo of 108 BPM, the dembow riddim provides an excellent two-stepping bed for the acapella to find new expansion. Latest tracks “Return to Tropicana” and “Broadway” show the duo now willing to invoke a much heavier party time blend, a little bit of Fania meeting a whole lot of Spanish Harlem and the Latin Quarter. When the traditions of hip hop meet freestyle and dancehall at the same time, what transpires is hot, heavy, dance-able and overwhelmingly accessible.
Moombahton inventor Dave Nada called his trip to Kansas City “a game changer.” Though the sound is notable to many because it allows for the collision of divergent creative motivations, in hitting hard in the safest kept and most beloved of American sounds, Kansas City excels.