Moombahton: From D.C. to the World

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In the macrocosm of music genres, bloggers and sound arrangers have experimented with labeling a variety of music categories to see which lucky one sticks. Some were buzzworthy, many were fleeting, others just stagnated in comfortable spots. Among them, you even find a batch of obscurely named genres like footwerk, chiptune, and even nintendocore. And within weirdly cryptic genre names, there exists a newly cool noise by the name of moombahton.

At first impression, you don’t really know what it is and why the appellation sounds outlandish. A marathon for the moombah’s perhaps? Even when its founder Dave Nada, the talented DJ hailing from D.C. with Ecuadorian roots, née Dave Villegas, tells you it’s a “Midtempo global bass for the universe” on his Moombahton blog, it may seem unclear.

Moombahton’s fascinating amalgamation of new school hip hop, with electro tropical house and reggaeton funk not only creates the buzz everyone wants to experience on the dance floor, but also magnetizes people to stay on it. Its incredible technicality of measure manipulation creates a captivating brand new sound previously unheard but somehow always sought at parties.

In today’s ever-changing DJ world of mashup and remixing culture, and the increasingly diverse methods of turntableism, Moombahton was spontaneously born in the midst of fall 2009, becoming an original product of deejay aestheticism. Specifically, this new genre emerged when Dave Nada’s little cousin requested to have him deejay at his high school homecoming party in D.C.

The magic began when Nada laid a tropical Dutch house track, Silvio Ecomo & DJ Chuckie’s “Moombah,” an Afrojack remix, and then slowed it down to a 108 beats per minute. Widening the meter technique was a rare and genius move especially among electro house producers who typically speed up the tempo instead of the other way around. Manipulating the track to midtempo automatically allowed room for a reggaeton-esque beat that ignited with a Latin Caribbean splash delivering a new invention. Hence “moombah” which represents what is under the dance electro umbrella intertwined with the “ton,” a metronome descriptor for Latin and island flavored rhythms. This is the beginning of Moombahton Massive, the brand of his fearsome parties.

I asked Nada about what he thought about when he tweaked down the tempo. He says, “The tempo change isn’t so much unique as the timing of it is. With moombahton, I feel like the timing is just right. While the “dembow” riddim [used in reggaeton tempo that relies heavily on the snare drum] has already gone through several phases. It expanded in global locations and it’s now sitting at a comfortable pace. The moombahton rhythm opens up the sound to all kinds of outside influences, while maintaining that signature midtempo global bass sound. I do feel like the tempo is a huge reason why it stands out more than other sounds at the moment.” I completely agree.

Even though moombahton is just about of toddler age, the D.C.-originating genre has rapidly expanded on a massive global scale breeding some subgenre babies of its own like moombahsoul, moombahswag, moombahcore, moombafricah, and moombahchero among others birthing ones as you read. This also inspired a spurt of DJs who stand in the eye of the hurricane of this ever-evolving DJ culture. Other OG players who’ve been reining moombahton since the get-go are Nadastrom (Nada’s duo with Matt Norstrom), Munchi, Heartbreak, Dillon Francis, JWLS, Bill the Gent, Jon Kwest, and Sabo among players like Diplo, Mix Master Moss, and Medic 90.

Dave Nada debuted the Kick Out The Jams! EP on T&A Records in 2007 which was listed as #1 on Turntable Lab’s top sellers chart, and is now on rotation on BBC Radio 1 in the UK. Last year, he premiered Apocalypse which further defined the captivating sound of Moombahton, along with releasing incredible moombah-heavy mixes. Then there’s also the Moombahton Massive EPs from I through IV, which includes the collabo with the other moombahtonista, DJ Sabo. The latter EP is their freshest release yet as of early this month. Currently, Nada is working on a Nadastrom moombahton EP for Scion. More happs to be disclosed soon.

As for the direction of Moombahton and its numerous replicating children, there is no doubt that this wunderlust genre is here to stay and continue breeding many more little moombahs to ignite the dance floor with elecro midtempo bass sensations.