You may have guessed as much when the joint Teklife-Gold Frame Records mixtape dropped, but juke’s been on the rise in Mexico for a minute. For definitive proof that the scene’s taken hold, check Traxmex Vol. 1, an 18-track compilation that brings together producers from every corner of the country. The compilation was released by JukeMX, a collective that began as a Facebook group for Mexican juke beatmakers.
The history of juke mexa is strong in international exchange. Veracruz bass producer Sonido Berzerk’s Ten Toes Turbo brand put out the label’s first juke EP in 2013 with Belgian artist Juke Ellington’s Dancing On The Edge. In 2014, Japanese producer CRZNY linked with Berzerk, Omaar, MΔTΣ, and other Mexican ghetto house adherents with Japanese artists on Conexión Juke México Vol. 1.
The first all-Mexican juke producer compilation is a milestone that may be long overdue. Traxmex Vol. 1 gives a panoramic view of the national evolutions taking place in the name of juke, from independent artists as well as local labels. The comp oscillates between sleek trill from San Luís Potosí’s wizardly duo BCOTB and more aggressive club tracks, like DJ Televisa’s high-octane “D.E.P.” Cool Beans contributes an early Rihanna remix and LA/GDL’s MVNG uses the occasion to flip a DJ Quik sample out into space.
Berzerk (aka Ricardo García) says that he and his peers felt like the moment had come for a project like this. “We thought this was important,” he says in an interview with Remezcla. “Mexican juke has been around for five years. I think the genre’s in a good moment; people are starting to identify and enjoy it.” The crew launched Traxmex Vol. 1 in a release party in Guadalajara on January 27, and are planning future showcase editions in Mexico City, Xalapa, and Monterrey.
García says that his first introduction to the genre took place years ago when he was listening to DJ Rupture’s Mudd Up! radio show. Rupture put on a track from dearly departed Teklife co-founder DJ Rashad and García took note. “I was attracted to the frenetic beat, the pads and synths together with that sensation of tension and relaxation and the soul samples,” García remembers. In an interview with Thump, he said the first instances of Mexican juke he heard were tracks by Lao, GSX-R, and NXTLYF.
Berzerk is known for his enthusiasm for genre collision, and juke became one of his favorite canvases for audio experimentation. He was into the sound’s mutability – “the fact that you can easily fuse it with elements like jungle, reggaeton, or cumbia,” he says.
And as Traxmex Vol. 1 makes totally clear, he’s not alone in seeing juke’s potential in its international incarnations. “There’s more local labels all the time, and artists dedicated to the creation and promotion of footwork in various parts of the republic,” Berzerk says. “We thought [the JukeMX compilation] would be a good spotlight as much for the individual projects as our work as a team.”