May is coming to a close, which means Summer Sixteen is about to be in full swing. While we’re still meditating on what will become our song of the summer, we’re lucky enough to have these eight songs hold us over. From the decolonized disco house of Bocafloja’s “Distopía” to the warped, crunk cumbia of Turbo Sonideros’ “Killa Kumbia,” here are eight songs we couldn’t stop bumping this month.
Xenia Rubinos - "Black Stars"
Xenia Rubinos‘ latest single from her upcoming album Black Terry Cat is a powerful, jazzy track called “Black Stars.” Inspired by the taxing experience of taking care of her ill father in his last days, and the killing of Michael Brown, “Black Stars” is a potent, piano-driven song informed by the spirit of R&B and hip-hop. It’s peppered with fat and growling synths, hard-hitting drums, and boasts attitude for days. Rubinos sings mostly in English, but here she introduces some Spanish to either reinforce the hopeful theme of the lyrics or to add some playfulness. “Quiero tener calor,” she croons in the opening line of the song, but as she bends the word “quiero” in repetition, it morphs into “ghetto,” and the tone of the song shifts entirely. What she ends up painting is a sky full of black stars that, even if dead, will shine forever.
Black Terry Cat is out June 3 on ANTI-. –Cheky
El Guincho - "Pizza"
If you weren’t already sold on the glitchy smoothness of Canarian producer El Guincho (aka Pablo Díaz-Reixa) after the wearable tech release of his divergent new album HiperAsia, the video he released for its second single, “Pizza,” may have the power to win your love.
The clip shows us a drug supply chain in full. Women in fly lingerie cutting up…pizza. Broken-down guy on the street being body bagged by the cops next to…crusts. Runners tossing around…neatly packaged slices. You get it; director Alberto Blanco just repurposed the universal snack in a black market metaphor. After all, if eating pizza were a crime, only criminals would eat pizza. (Dang, that’s actually really dark.)
The song slides in with a Barry White-ready bassline, but it’s setting us up for hip-hop feels — a vibe echoed in the video’s sleek production value. No one has every looked this good trying to flush a pie down the toilet as a SWAT team busts in.
But let’s not get hung up on aesthetics. Díaz-Reixa has commented that the album was inspired by Madrid’s bustling Asian markets, asking us to consider other urban universes. And in these alternate city storylines, we’re asked to contemplate favorite panaceas, how some are illegal, some legal, all delicious. Blanco’s vision for “Pizza” tracks for us the production, consumption of pleasure — and in the junkie and SWAT busts scenes, the dual danger of consuming ourselves or being consumed by the system’s law enforcement. Would you forgive me if I called it “deep dish”?
Díaz-Reixa is presenting a multimedia version of HiperAsia, including a projection of HiperAsia: The Animated Poetry Adventure at SonarVillage on June 17. –Caitlin Donohue
Bocafloja - "Distopía"
Bocafloja is back and taking on structures of oppression with more firepower than ever. The NYC-based MC has announced his impending album Cumbé by releasing “Distopía,” an intellectually weighty string of verses set to an equally heavy disco-house beat. With Spanish lyrics as poetic as they are precise, Bocafloja methodically delineates a vision of the world today, with its globally entrenched systems of institutionalized racism, that is so dire it makes the most disturbing works of dystopian science fiction look comical.
He follows his diagnosis with a prescription: “Mira mira tengo la cura/Sal y mira matamos blancura,” that is, killing whiteness. As verbal assassinations go, this is the work of a highly skilled professional. The massive and uplifting English-language chorus, contributed by Mexican vocalist Immasoul, functions as an affirming counterpoint to the rapped verses. “Let’s talk about solutions,” she sings. A statement on his website reveals that the song is inspired by Frank B. Wilderson’s Incognegro, a political memoir of Widlerson’s experiences as a black American in South Africa during the last days of Apartheid.
“Distopía” is a hell of a text, but you can get down to every funky bar of it – part of its decolonizing design. Some words shown in Spanish and English at the beginning of the of video for the track illuminate this, and give us something to go on in terms of what Cumbé will be all about: “The body not only has a language but also a discourse.” –Beverly Bryan
Fuego - "Still Here" Remix
We’ve already decided that Summer Sixteen is Fireboy’s for the taking, with a steady wave of success following his continued dabbling in Spanish-language trap. That’s thanks in no small part to his widely celebrated Spanish covers of stateside hits; he’s flipped songs from the likes of Young Thug, Majid Jordan, and most notably Drake. This month alone, he dropped a video for his take on “Rihanna” and also released “Tamo Bien,” another Drake cover, this time of Views’ “Still Here.”
Interestingly, Messiah caught some heat last year for over-remixing others’ tracks, and Fuego may soon be giving him a run for his money in that category. There’s still something charming about Fireboy’s flips, though; with a calm, collected flow and keen sense of translations that fit the spirit of the originals. Add “Tamo Bien” to Fuego’s arsenal for the takeover. –John Calderon
Snow Tha Product ft. Ohana Bam – “Get Down Low”
Snow Tha Product’s feisty delivery is always welcome around these parts. The Cali-hailing MC drops a new dancefloor banger with “Get Down Low.” Complete with a Drake-esque hook courtesy of Ohana Bam, Snow shows off her signature style, which is comprised of equal parts in-your-face attitude and comic relief. She shows her knack for punchlines in particular, with lines like “You ain’t gettin’ cake, sweetheart, that’s Pop Tart” and “I get the cheese, I ain’t lactose intolerant.” She certainly has a sense of humor, and the track is sure to thump in the clubs, but it’s also clear Snow isn’t playing any games about her position in the game. Snow kicks off her West Coast tour on June 8, which you can peep dates for here. –John Calderon
Sabrina Claudio – “Orion’s Belt”
Nineteen-year-old Sabrina Claudio has an instantly entrancing, wise-beyond-her-years sound on her track, “Orion’s Belt.” The sensual, minimalist R&B track, produced by Sad Money and August Grant and co-written by Claudio, is all about teaching her lover all the best ways to take their connection to the next level. The Puerto Rican-Cuban singer-songwriter, who got her start like so many present-day talents with impressive YouTube covers, evokes Tinashe’s early work, with an airy vocal that belies rich undertones. Claudio has also released a sexy visual for the track, in addition to her first EP, Confidently Lost, which is streaming on SoundCloud now. She’ll also be debuting her music with a full band at LA’s Hotel Café on June 11. –John Calderon
Turbo Sonidero Feat. Ivan Flores - "Killa Kumbia"
Turbo Sonidero officially won May for me, having properly identified the fact that we were all waiting for someone to mix Crime Mob’s “Knuck If You Buck” with cumbia. This feat was accomplished on the title track of the Killa Kumbias EP, released by Peruvian producer Deltatron’s Terror Negro Records.
Behold glory, party people from basically anywhere on the Pacific seaboard. The song jumps off with an audio sample from legendary Chicago electronic producer DJ Spinn stating the lack of commercial support for his music. Turbo’s friend Iván Flores lends accordion riffs where necessary. “Knuck If You Buck” works its way through the electro cumbia melody, whose occasional stutters betray Turbo’s hip-hop affinity. The disparate elements somehow combine smoothly, the perfect track to kick off this EP.
Turbo hails from East San José and sure enough, in this interview with Thump both he and Deltatron cite the influence of their sets at the Bay’s Sick Sad World parties during the Occupy Oakland era as having been instrumental in the development of the entire Killa Kumbias EP. Maybe I’m biased, but a blend this good had to have some roots in the diverse landscape of the Bay Area.
Set to repeat, or better yet loop its video featuring dancing kumbia kouples. –Caitlin Donohue
Los Mundos - "Lo Que Trae La Luna"
The moon is a very powerful entity in our universe. It doesn’t just control water bodies; it might have the same effect on fuzz pedals if we’re to take Los Mundos’ word. Luis Ángel Martínez (also of Piyama Party) and Alejandro Elizondo have been hitting their stride ever since they debuted with their self-titled album in 2011, and last year’s No Hay Quien Se Salve proved they are not letting go. “Lo Que Trae La Luna” shares little of the blues-based rock the pair indulged their noisy tendencies in last time; there’s plenty of rocking found on this song, with a less trad approach.
Some effect-drenched stylings are laced onto the familiar deadpan vocals in an almost call-and-response manner, and there’s some explosive moments to keep listeners on their toes. The whole thing even ends in a skronky cloud of destruction, not far from the Sonic Youth sound. Los Mundos’ forthcoming album La Montaña comes out June 10, and the track rocks enough to get us pumped for the full-length record. –Marcos Hassan