Meet Your Moombahtonistas #9 – Smutlee

smutlee

This Special Edition of Meet Your Moombahtonistas combines some of my favorite things from across the pond: Smutlee, Neil Queen-Jones, and moombahton.  Smutlee produced one of my first and all-time favorite moombahton tracks – an edit of Mescal Kid & Ms Kid’s “Majik”.  This carnival-esque jam led me on the craziest Internet goose chase for it’s download but I finally found it, along with a connection to the man himself via Neil Queen-Jones.  Neil has written for his own blog, Pop Culture Care Package, but has since moved on to bigger and better things, like writing consistently based articles for Mixmag, joining me at Moombahton.com, and constructing devious plans for moombahton’s world takeover.  All that being said, it was only right that I gave him the very first guest post on Cool Breezy. – -Casey

God help the person who has to write the story of moombahton. It’s a sprawling, viral bastard, one that has zero regard for potential journo man hours. Even trickier to write will be the chapter on the UK. Nobody can fuck with our contribution to dance music history – if we’re not giving birth to genres like grime, we’re making them happen, as we did with house, or finding a way to put our own stamp on it, as we did with hip hop. We feel that we have our own special cosign tucked away in our back pockets, that genres aren’t complete unless the UK is involved. Even moombahdon Dave Nada admitted this: “I’m beyond excited about the UK response, that’s the biggest compliment. You’ve got cats like Toddla and Smutlee on it – and I can’t wait to hear new stuff from other UK producers. I think my brain just melted!” See?  So the fact that moombahton is doing perfectly fine without us is pretty fucking galling. I blame the island mentality – it’s the geographic equivalent of only-child syndrome, the isolation makes us here in the UK a bit chippy. It’s not like we haven’t played  a part; Toddla T, Sinden, Annie Mac, Zane Lowe, Mixmag, The Guardian, Mistajam and Kayper have all given it a huge push, it’s just that any kind of scene has struggled to take shape, and no discerning sound has shown its buds. Yet.

That’s not quite the whole story, though. One man has been a virtual cottage industry within the genre: Smutlee. Emerging from a background of bashment, UK funky and tropical, The London DJ may not have been the first person in the country to pick up on the sound – DJs like Martelo and Sinden clocked it early doors, while journalist Joe Muggs wrote an outstanding intro piece that helped win over Smutters (and myself into the bargain), but Smutlee did make the biggest moves to boost the profile in this tiny island of ours. All it took was one tune: his edit of Mescal Kid & Ms Thing’s “Majic”. Knowing Smutlee as I do, it’s hard to not see how the man and the track are inextricably linked: he’s perpetually happy, positive and buoyant  – everything you could say about “Majic”, a ready-made anthem converted to a compact 108bpm bundle of elation. It also hit a sweet spot in terms of the UK’s involvement in moombahton: though a highly multicultural land, the influence of latin culture is marginal – far greater is the Caribbean vibe, so Smutlee’s Majic edit customised moombahton’s DNA, reducing the latin, pumping up the Dembow connection by giving it a dancehall collagen shot. With Dave Nada offering full support and DJ Melo reaching out to include the track on his Winter Of Moombahton comp, alongside fellow Brits Jimi Needles and Jera , Smutlee’s spot had been secured, and moombahton finally had a foothold in the UK – and his bashment vibe set a template for a nation; check out Jake Twell & Jamrock’s Elephant Man-led Neck Tie on Pickster’s Rise Of Moombahton comp and the presence of Feral, nee MC Kinky, the glorious potty-mouthed toasty ragga factory that she is.

And so it continued, with drops like his blend of Booka Shade’s Body Language and Natalie Storm’s Look Pon Me, the fella confirmed a distinct flair for highly melodic and resonant tracks, a trait that also runs through his DJ sets and mixtapes – always led by an ear for character and melody, full of expansive emotional drive. For me, his Mixpak mixtape remains one of the genre’s finest, followed closely by his one for Mixmag, which is a virtual Cliff’s Notes for newbies.

While he sits on a pile of astonishing but ungrabbable edits, many of them featured on his Mixpak set, another of his tracks, his official remix of Schlachtofbronx’s Chambacu (munch on that shit, Scrabble heads), proved that he neither follows anyone else’s sound, nor does he recycle his own.  One part Dembow, one part cumbia, 2,000 parts airhorn, it sticks out in any set like a ginger albino at an Odd Future gig. Then there’s the Toddla T connection. Before T went
stateside to hang with Nada, Munchi and Dillon, Smutlee was on hand to keep the Sheffield DJ on his 108s, popping up on Toddla’s Radio 1 show. Not saying that Smutlee gets the assist for Toddla’s patronage of the scene, but I am in a roundabout way saying that he should get a knowing nod and a large glass of whatever he fancies for being there.

What remains so striking about Smutlee is that he observes a strict quality over quantity approach – he’s not one to flood SoundCloud, nor does he seem the go-to man for compilations, but this doesn’t seem to dampen the regard he’s held in. In the past few months he’s been more in demand than ever – with bookings at the bookends of the states, first at Que Bajo in New York, then more recently alongside Sabo at Vibrate in LA. Oh, and he’s just off for some dates in Australia as you read this (warning: this sentence elapses NOW), plus he’s actually prepping to release an EP, due on Greenmoney in the new year.

Before he disappeared Antipodes-wards to get stock up on wifebeater shirts and to step up his finishing-every-sentence-tonally-as-if-it’s-a-question game, I took the chance to speak to him on behalf of your girl Casey for Cool Breezy. Here’s what emerged from the part of his brain which selects words and constructs sentences…

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Meet Your Moombahtonistas #8: David Heartbreak

Heartbreak

He knows how to command a club full of party people and will undoubtedly melt off each of their unsuspecting faces.  I’m talkin’ about David Heartbreak, one of the most diversely creative moombahtonistas in the game right now.  His goal is simple – to make people dance.  He simply knows no boundaries and will not stop until you’re movin’.

It’s nearly impossible to peg Heartbreak’s signature sound because he jumps around from genre to genre so frequently.  From moombahsoul to moombahcore to Burial-esque ambience – he consistently produces different sounds so he never gets bored, and in turn, we don’t either.  It’s always a win-win situation with Heartbreak.  You’ll never hear him create the same tune.  Thank god for that.  He has an intense focus on becoming a well-rounded producer and aims to have a full understanding of the vibes and technicalities of many different genres so he stays in the lab trying to perfect their production processes.

His unrelenting hustle and unwavering curiosity about other genres have resulted in an impressive arsenal of tunes.  I could sit here and rattle off all of Heartbreak’s releases but by the time you looked away, we would be well into next week and I can’t have you skippin’ out on any of this week’s moombahton releases!   But seriously.  “Blaze Up (That Jeffrey)”, the collaboration between Heartbreak and Toddla T – instant moombahton anthem.  You’d be hard-pressed to find a moombahton party that doesn’t have this banger pumpin’ through the speakers.   Additionally, Heartbreak’s mini releases – M1 through M7 – display the constant evolution of his unique style.  Touting only a handful of tracks combine, the M releases created  an outlet for Heartbreak to experiment with big room bangers and push the boundaries of his creativity within moombahton.

On the other hand, Heartbreak revealed his softer side this summer as he released three volumes of Moombahsoul tracks that tossed an underhanded pitch to any guy who needed to step up their love game.  Heartbreak’s moombahsoul innovation directly catered to the ladies of moombahton with its sensual, soulful sex tunes.  With a Mad Decent cosign to the moombahsoul movement, almost every moombahtonista in the game contributed their unique sound to the three-volume compilation, including Nadastrom, Sazon Booya, Jon Kwest, and Torro Torro.  Moombahsoul added another face to the growing genre – one that oozed of an R&B revival with sexy vocals instead of hyperactive lazers, sirens, and heavy bass.  There’s a time and place for everything and luckily, Heartbreak is a man of many talents.

Heartbreak serves as the tirelessly creative catalyst for moombahton.  I’m pretty convinced he lives in the studio so his production never ceases nor does the quality ever waiver.   He constantly encourages his fellow moombahtonistas to push the boundaries of their abilities and in turn, ignite the movement towards world domination.

Heartbreak stepped away from Pro Tools just long enough for me to yoke him up for a little Q&A session with the kid, so check it out after the jump!

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