Dominican-American producer DJ Cueheat knew that his Latin Club Takeover series was going to be different. The two mixtapes took pop reggaeton bangers like J Balvin’s “Ginza,” Plan B’s “Fanatica Sensual,” and Randy & De La Ghetto’s “Sensación del Bloque” and threw their vocals through a Jersey club blender.
The Jersey-reggaeton mix is simpático, something that anyone who grew up in listening to a broad mix of musical genres in The Garden State can tell you. Jersey club DJs like 809 and 93rd (who also unleashed the viral hit “Lil ManAnthem”) have experimented with remixing reggaeton hits. But before Latin Club Takeover, those crossovers were mainly limited to single songs, not entire projects, as Cueheat told us on a sunny morning in Bushwick last week. The first two editions in the Latin Club Takeover series opened up serious possibilities, one that producers are sure to explore further, as both kinds of music continue to conquer new audiences. “It was real different, something new for people to listen to,” Cueheat said.
This Wednesday, Cueheat will play his biggest venue yet as part of Push Yourself, a Venus X-curated, Bronx-set rave presented by Ray-Ban x Boiler Room. The lineup is stacked with artists who, like the GHE20G0TH1K queen, are pushing the city’s club sounds further in the underground space. Dominican rapper Messiah El Artista, Asma Maroof of Nguzunguzu, and LSDXOXO and Byrell the Great of ballroom label Qweenbeat are among the night’s other performers.
“He can rock out a party with straight Spanish music. He got that from being in Paterson.”
Cueheat calls Venus “ambitious. I like her movement. It’s definitely good for the culture.” This dancefloor might be your first chance to catch the tracks off the upcoming Latin Club Takeover Vol. 3, which Cueheat says will be the final edition in the series.
The Paterson, New Jersey native is a member of the E23 crew, whose other key players tagged along with him on the day of our interview. Producers Shahid and Azhel — who is also a photographer — Angel Kidd the booking manager, and engineer/producer Nano all joined in while we talked about Jersey club’s rising profile and the scene in Paterson. “We all promote each other, push each other,” said Cueheat. Other E23 artists include Paterson’s Gustavo Mack, Blondie, Ross Benji, and DJ Merks, another artist blurring the lines between Jersey club and reggaeton. “He can rock out a party with straight Spanish music,” Cueheat said. “He got that from being in Paterson.”
Having lived in Paterson their whole lives, Cueheat said his crew has been listening to reggaeton and dembow since they were young. “That’s what we grew up to, went to parties and listened to. Iconic songs would be stuff like Zion y Lennox.”
Jersey club will continue to be adopted by artists outside state lines.
E23’s hometown is New Jersey’s third biggest city and home to a vast array of ethnic groups. Residents hail from Peru, the Dominican Republic, Palestine, Turkey, Puerto Rico, and more; the city of nearly 150,000 people estimates that its inhabitants are from 52 different ethnic groups, and Paterson has the second biggest Muslim population in the United States. “There’s a lot of diversity,” Nano said.
The label name is a reference to Paterson’s East 23rd Street, where the crew used to kick it and where they’ll still fit in a blunt on days off. The group grew up and went to school together. “We never thought we’d do music,” said Nano. “That was not really the thing. But throughout the years, we just built on it.” Cueheat said Nano was his original inspiration to start DJing in the Paterson house party scene. “That’s what influenced me to get into that, messing around with it,” said Cueheat. “Then it just went off from there. I started taking it serious. There’s not too much to do out in Paterson. If you’re not doing something productive — I try to maintain myself as busy as I can.”
The E23 Records crew agrees that something big is happening in their city. Recognition is coming for the “people who make people go on their toes and listen,” as Shahid put it. He cites Fetty Wap as an example. “That’s what I want,” he continued. “Hopefully the industry will look down and be like, there’s this small city of Paterson but there’s a lot of people who do music, a lot of people who do photography – almost everybody does something.”
“It’s something that people really need to listen to,” he said. “Something they need to pay attention to.” Cueheat told us that artists who come up in areas that, like Paterson, are outside of the traditional centers of music production have to learn to use the tools at their disposal, pairing sounds with good visuals, hustling stickers, and other DIY promotional tools to get noticed.
Jersey club, he thinks, will continue to be adopted by artists outside state lines. Copyright laws have kept many Jersey club artists from radio play, but Cueheat envisions more original tracks being produced and performed in the future as producers look to go mainstream.
The 21-year-old beatmaker is also ready to evolve his sound. He aims to work with established and up-and-coming reggaeton artists in creating original compositions. He lists KO el Mas Completo, Zion, and J Balvin among his dream collaborators. “I want to see myself on big stages, traveling places, collaborating with different artists,” Cueheat said. “Their cultures mixed with mine. Just growing and growing with the team.”
Ray-Ban x Boiler Room’s Push Yourself goes down on June 1 at 2297 Cedar Ave. in the Bronx. RSVP here.