There’s this spot around the 1:10 mark on “Reyes del Sabor,” a track with Mexico-San Jose producer Turbo Sonidero from Deltatron’s Ego Trip LP, when a musical connection is made. It’s about the respective nature of hip-hop and cumbia, and any regular attendee of San Jose, California barbecues will be familiar with its synthesis. On the song, the flexing digital cumbia for which Deltatron (aka Paz Ferrand, the co-founder of Lima’s Terror Negro Records) is known makes a cognitive shift, and all of a sudden you’re experiencing the beautiful collision of chicha and rap.
If Dre had a Peruvian cousin, maybe this hip-hop-cumbia moment would have hit hard much sooner, but instead Ego Trip is landing right now, in the middle of the late 00s apocalypse. Like many populist genres, cumbia has followed a similar path as hip-hop – it was shunned by the upper classes before it hit critical mass, and has in recent years experienced a clubbish, electronic retool.
Last year, Turbo Sonidero explored the grimy, thrilling blend that sprang from cutting Crime Mob’s “Knuck If You Buck” with Bay Area accordionist Ivan Flores on Turbo’s EP Killa Kumbias, released through Terror Negro. Killa Kumbias should be considered a harbinger of Ego Trip, for which Deltatron enlisted producer friends from up and down the continents; Sikuri, Dave Nada, Alpha S, and DJ Krizis among others. The diversity of the crew’s geographic background correctly gives you the sense that Ego Trip is destined to blast over dance floors across the cumbia and hip-hop diasporas, which is to say, everywhere.
Standout tracks include the blunted political narrative of “Fuckin Amerikkka,” an aggressive “yeah ho” EDM-flecked collaboration that cedes to South American percussion with Houston screwbia producer Principe Q, otherwise known as Svani Quintanilla (Selena’s nephew). A Charles Bukowski meditation on style opens “Alien OG,” a track that nods to modern-day disorientation with a structuring UGK/Bun B sample. “Mass Trauma” calls up the collective effects of senseless violence, with NAAFI’s Lao providing one of the album’s sleekest, most club-ready moments.
On Ego Trip, Deltatron maps out the contents of his psyche, an aggressive soundtrack for fronting on his travels up and down the map. Its disregard for border and genre in favor of cumbia and hip-hop’s common function is both lifted and obvious, a nifty tool for those seeking a psychic lift over tired border debate.
Deltatron’s Ego Trip EP is out now on Terror Negro Records.