An objective, well-researched, and universally-approachable breakdown and guide to understanding the very essentials of the Moombahton genre.
What is Moombahton?
Moombahton is mid-tempo global bass characterized by Dutch-house stabs pitched down to 105-114 BPM*, with 108 BPM being the established paradigm. With Latin-influenced percussion elements, monumental builds, chopped vocals, and melodically-layered acapellas, the combinations of Kuduro, Cumbia, Bachata, Soca, Dancehall, Hip Hop, Latin, funk, afro beat, electro, dub, and Tropical bass, are endless. Ever-capricious and exciting, the layers within the realm of Moombahton’s sound are both unparalleled and innovative, quickly becoming an essential aspect of electronic dance music as a whole.
Moombahton: From the Beginning
Moombahton was created by Washington D.C native, Dave Nada (of Nadastrom) in Fall 2009 during a house party full of anxious Latinas eager to get down and groove to something new with saucy rhythm. Acknowledging the demand, Nada cleverly toned down his crate of Dutch house by slowing down the Afrojack remix of Chuckie’s record “Moombah” to 108 BPM, a tempo similar to that of reggaeton. And thus, the otherwise previously uncharted, tropical, and wholly dance-floor ready genre was born.
Although Moombahton may have started with Dave Nada in Washington DC, it certainly took no time for the intrigue to universally extend amongst other artists. Due to Moombahton’s unrestrained global versatility, producer-friendly approachability, and its instantaneous dissemination thanks to the internet, it’s no wonder this genre has seen so much immediate attention from both ideological and production standpoints. Nearly every sector of the electronic dance music realm, has been effected by the innovation of the genre and the creativity of its forefront leaders. And what makes Moombahton stand apart from other sonic movements, is the level of eager readiness and immediacy to facilitate dialogue between fans and creators; Moombahton is a wholly connected army of dedicated, active followers and producers who have chosen not to be autonomous; but who have chosen to foster a community by which they actively participate, advocate good practice, and support one another on a regular basis.
NOTE: Several artists/DJs have come forward since Dave Nada initially coined the term “Moombahton” claiming, “that they were messing around with the idea of Moombahton by slowing down tracks and mixing Dutch House with Reggaeton before it had been given a name and ID by Dave Nada.” (Umb, GenerationBass.com; January 2012) Regardless of artists like Toy Selectah (and his brand of sound he dubbed Raverton) whose earlier produced styles and tracks were similar to the sound, conceptually speaking, Dave Nada is THE indisputable inventor of Moombahton and the very “catalyst,” as Generation Bass describes, of the movement as a WHOLE. (Added 1/18/2012. Source: Generation Bass: “Life Before Moombahton (Pre-Moombahton Music)”; January 2012.)
Moombahton: A Global Movement on the Up and Up.
The Moombahton movement is fervently progressing. Clearly the sound is here to stay, in part, but not solely, due to genre’s endless potential. Although Moombahton itself was unanticipated (and was created quite accidentally), the genre and its corresponding components, have resulted in a tangible and remarkably inclusive cultural manifestation. Cited as holding the potential to become key within the “next American pop evolution of Latin sounds,” according to Moombahton.com, recognition of the development of the genre is essential for all electronic dance music enthusiasts, across any sound.
“…Moombahton is the most dominant pop cultural force of this generation. This is music that is being incubated in a new American ideal. This is a sound that is developed in a nation where, amazingly, given a history of prejudice, the president is black, a majority of people are brown, the best selling rapper is white and hip hop is pop music. For years, the American hipster generation attempted to celebrate our universally accepted belief in a new world order by appropriating music and style from eras already formed, and informed by cultural, but not social difference. But clearly, culture and society have rapidly shifted. Enter Moombahton.” (M Dowling, Moombahton.com; July 2011)
Though the inception of Moombahton only recently occurred, its established Latin-based history, as evidenced by the genre’s sound, remains well-rooted . While the genre itself is in its infancy, Moombahton draws it’s depth and substance from a multitude of past generations and age-old sub categories. Experienced DJs, conscious of the genre’s implicit values and potential for expansion, have acknowledged their power to ensure Moombahton’s distinguished position, both present and future, within the global EDM realm.
Rapidly progressive, proponents of the Moombahton movement span across the globe. While Washington D.C., the birthplace of Moombahton, began as the fulcrum of the movement, the sound, by its globally encompassing ideology, could not be (and will not be) grounded. D.C. native Dave Nada was quickly joined by a culmination of overwhelming support from industry peers and fans alike. Together they’ve worked to establish the foundation; through which over a short period of time, established worldwide affirmation of the genre and its infinite potential. After just a few short months following its conception, as the DC scene was at work cultivating talent and establishing a strong community-esque following, T & A Records gave birth to the first ever Moombahton EP by Dave Nada. Respected cultural distributor, Diplo, founder of LA-based label Mad Decent, promoted the sound and signed fellow LA native, Dillon Francis, whose progressive approach to Moombahton or self-labeled “moombahcore”/”Luvstep” productions demonstrated promising potential. Early moombahtonistas like Nibootoo, worked furiously to leverage the genre’s crucial internet presence, thoroughly cataloging the genre and making accessible every moombahton edit, remix, and production that was virtually available. In NYC, DJ Sabo, founder of globally-all-encompassing label Sol Selectas immediately followed suit just behind Nada, and he began producing moombahton that thoughtfully maintained the Latin roots of the sound.
Soon thereafter, Sabo established a partnership with Dave Nada to produce a series of events entitled “Moombahton Massive,” with the primary intention to unite the key leaders of the movement and to facilitate the construction of the local community of moombah enthusiasts. In Europe, Dominican-born, Netherlands-based young gun Munchi, experimented in the studio, and found a way to morph traditional moombahton by integrating a mesh of Cumbia, African-sourced Kuduro, and Dirty South. Most notably, Munchi championed Moombahton’s rare and unique ability to foster a hybrid of distinct, and otherwise impossibly synchronized, sounds. Following the initial onslaught of playful and otherwise experimental edits and remixes, it was Munchi’s release of his debut on T & A Records, Murda Sound, that arguably legitimized the genre: as one that’s capable of contributing a novel and genuinely progressive approach to creating and thus fostering the development of future-minded global bass music.
Forefront at predicting and tracking the movement of the genre, BBC Radio 1 recognized the powerful potential of Moombahton. In February 2011, Toddla T debuted his “Moombahton Special” programme. Fellow Radio 1 peers, Kissy Sellout and Annie Mac, both of whom are highly influential in the EDM field, followed suit immediately, actively demonstrating support for the fresh and curious brand of sound.
As support continued to generate, leaders in the genre began receiving serious nods of respect. Throughout the industry and across the blogosphere a community for fans and producers alike took form. Experienced producers like Heartbreak, Sazon Booya, JWLS, A-MAC, Uncle Jesse and Lightning Eyez, emerged. From there many aspiring and talented producers soon followed, adding diverse flavor to the framework established.
Following the release from Diplo’s Mad Decent label of “Dave Nada Presents Moombahton” compilation in March 2011, the awareness for the genre took a tremendous shift upward. Revealing its significance globally, the genre has been acknowledged as a relevant and noteworthy approach to future sound.
The rapid rise of the movement has continued to spark global interest from a number of important and prestigious media outlets, including NPR, Rolling Stone, Generation Bass (*whose role as the single-most active and highly regarded publication covering distinct trends and notable shifts within the genre is recognized, blogosphere wide.) The Guardian (UK), Spin Magazine and Nylon Magazine.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT MOOMBAHTON:
**As far as truly American movements go, no genre or influence is more relevant and indisputably progressive on the intercontinental level than that of Moombahton.**
Moombahton is organically American; it’s a genre that celebrates the vibrant diversity that is embodied by each and every inhabitant of this country. Given its uniquely native conception, it acts as the premiere and indisputably North American genre to our current generation of DJs. It actively encompasses that which is very present in the human make-up of today’s average US Citizen. It demonstrates the active and universally recognized White/Latino hybridization into both the physical and cultural foundation of today’s United States of America. And there could be no greater ideological significance than the very fact alone that the genre was conceived in our nation’s capital city of Washington D.C.
Thus by mere association, geographical and sociological, there is nothing that would better demonstrate North America’s contribution and worldwide cultural distribution to the global EDM spectrum than that genre that 1.) is by understood and defined conception, genuinely organic to our country. Thus, it’s the very genre that will, 2) redefine the way the rest of the EDM world perceives America’s role and cognitive influence over the future direction of sound.
The Current State of Moombahton
The only thing that is consistent in Moombahton is that it is consistently inconsistent. As more experienced producers develop the genre through a multitude of innovative approaches individually, new evolutions within the infrastructure of the sound are shaped constantly: transforming the established definition daily. Currently, within the specific moombahton-focused community, Nadastrom’s has celebrated the release of their new El Baile Diabluma EP, Heartbreak has now released three highly-regarded Moombahsoul series compilations & an EP for Toddla T’s Girls Music. DJ Sabo has just released the 6th volume of his Moombahton Massive series, JWLS and Heartbreak have become the first moombahton artists to have released singles on global label super power ULTRA RECORDS and Mad Decent has released a couple moombahton-centric EPs and an onslaught of various singles that have seen tremendous support amongst the masses and across the Beatport charts.
Moombahton’s Inherent Staying-Power and Future Influence
Ever progressive with siren-laden basslines, chopped-up vocals, grinding Dutch house progression, and floor-flooding drops , the ever-broadening moombah sound extends past simply a collective of beats. Incorporating a cultural history of Latin music as background, the genre holds global appeal for its universally innovative approach to EDM as a whole.
Simply, it is essential to acknowledge Moombahton’s potential: As the sound is undoubtedly broadening the horizon for global dance music as a whole. Wholly unique, in the EDM landscape, the platform for progressing Moombahton is at its prime. With unforeseen vitality already evidenced, while some critics may label the genre a fad at best, respected industry leaders have proven otherwise. The potential of this endlessly-evolving sound is unparalleled; a frontier demanding further exploration.
Global Support for Moombahton
Extending into the already well-established EDM genre, Moombahton has been well-received on the global level from top-tier producers. Laidback Luke, Skrillex, Porter Robinson, Toddla T, 12th Planet, Knife Party, Tiesto, John Dåhlback, and Diplo, have, respectively, both acknowledged and embraced the genre, each releasing tracks that demonstrate their intrigue with the genre, and their intention to make their unique individual imprint on the sound imminent.
With a strong global appeal, artists of differing cultural backgrounds and approaches to sound are experimenting with the loose and unrestricted parameters of the contextual foundation of the genre. Moombahton’s international influence is clearly demonstrated by its boundless reach, blissfully ignoring any preconceived restraints of cultural amplification.
Simply put, Moombahton is a globally-accepted phenomenon that has a myriad of potential. Thus given its boundless versatility and danceable approachability, its destiny as a permanent fixture within bass music, as an extension of EDM, is undeniable.
NOTE. THIS ARTICLE IS FAR FROM COMPLETE. Check back for updates. And please leave your comments below for us and we will insert related commentary, validated arguments, and authenticated historical context as we see best fit! Moombahton is not simply another subgenre, it’s a burgeoning community. And both its future, as well as its ideology, is something that will be continuously constructed and reexamined over time.