Let Toy Selectah Guide You Through Cumbia History With This Glorious Playlist

Photo by Itzel Alejandra Martinez for Remezcla

Compass — the powerhouse duo made up of Mexican Institute Of Sound‘s Camilo Lara and former Control Machete member Toy Selectah — have had a hectic summer traveling the world and recording artists across the globe for a new self-titled collaborative album. The process has taken them from Mexico City to London to São Paulo, and the fruit of that project is finally available today.

Between Compass’ globetrotting, we asked Toy Selectah to take a quick pause and talk about some of the old school cumbia sounds that have inevitably influenced the duo’s current creations. The electronic pioneer churned out a 19-song playlist that spans the decades and regions of Latin America.

There are some serious throwback gems on this arsenal of cumbia classics: the 1960s treasure “Eco de Tambores” features the very distinct vocal gymnastics of little Aurita Castillo from Colombia, and Los Diplomaticos’ “El Pescador” highlights how late 1950s and 60s orchestras would interpret sounds from the Colombian coast and savanna.

Toy also pays homage to the late, Colombian-born Aniceto Molina, who was a major influence in the development of Monterrey’s distinct style of cumbia. Andrés Landero, the favorite accordionist of Joe Strummer from The Clash, also makes an appearance with “Perdí las Abarcas.” Peruvian chicha made it on here, too, with songs from Juaneco y Su Combo and lots of Los Destellos, the famed band that formed in Lima in the 1960s.

And, of course, there are odes to Mexican cumbia with Los Angeles Azules’ “Mis Sentimientos” and Celso Piña’s “Cumbia Sobre el Río/Interludio.” Toy also dropped some knowledge about sonidero poblano and “Puebla York” with a take on Pink Floyd’s “The Other Side of the Wall” from Chicos Aventura: “For those who don’t know, a large percent of the Mexican community in New York comes from the state of Puebla, where in the 90s, a very specific cumbia movement was born. [It was] often romantic, but above all [it was] rhythmic and very simple,” he shared.

Take a journey through cumbia’s history for yourself below – we should mention there’s a cumbia rework of J Balvin’s “Ginza” on here, too.

Compass’ self-titled album is available now. Listen to the full album below.