Every week resident FADER selector Eddie STATS runs through dancehall riddims and other artifacts from the ghetto archipelago.
This one is so special, so special because it is Ghetto Palms #45 and therefore special like a .45 special. Two weeks ago was the ruffffly one year anniversary of Ghetto Palms, but #45 somehow seems like a bigger landmark for a podcast dedicated to reviewing dancehall 45s. So in recognition of this momentous occasion I decided to dispense with the 45s and build this installment around Youtube clips. Sorry.
The visual audio format was actually inspired by the brand new Mavado and De La Ghetto video which you see above. It was directed by Dan “The Man” Melamid—who I interviewed a while back for a FADER piece exploring the overlap between his videos and his dad’s portraits of rap legends, Vatican types and Russian oligarchs—and produced by my good personal peoples Carleene Samuels. As I know firsthand, Carleene is pretty much the only person to know if you want to get something done on impossible locations in JA, while Dan’s videos for 50 Cent, Maino, Prodigy and a mess of others have established a reputation for making video art happen on recession proof budgets. This one is no exception. His signature style—quick cuts between slo-mo (or just slow panning) panoramic shots with a documentary feel—really emphasizes the photographic moment in every frame and–applied to Mavado’s home-base in Cassava Piece–it gives a you-are-there, goosebumps immediacy to what could have been the same old beach and block party scenarios. It also proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that it’s worth the cost of a plane ticket to go some place real as opposed to doing the green-screen, fake me out videos that Mavado and his dancehall contemporaries have been dropping lately.
The music is good too, with De La Ghetto’s baby-faced style nicely balancing out Mavado’s funereal laments on the understated track. If you read this column and/or the FADER blog you have probably seen the other Mavado videos that are worth seeing, but you may not have heard of De La Ghetto—who, alongside his former partner Arcangel, has sung the half-English and Spanish hooks on a whole lot of reggaeton tunes, including a remix to Akon’s “Mr. Lonely”—so I threw in one of his:
De La Ghetto, Zion y Arcangel, “Sorpresa”
Then, since I was passing through the barrio section of Youtube anyway, I thought I would put y’all up on something else that’s been going on in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean for the last few years. Namely, the reinvention of merengue by a Dominican cat named Omega. He calls it mambo violente and though there are rap and dub influences what I love about it is that it’s not merengaeton or crunckchata or some synthesized hybrid with the same damn pocoman drum programs, but traditional, organic-sounding merengue–just with a very 2009 gangster aura. Omega basically stands in front a live band and grips the mic looking like a barrio superstar in white leather boots and stunner shades and it only works because he’s got this gravelly flow that sounds like he’s been drinking rum and smoking Partagas for 1,000 years of negritude and is still fathering children like that old dude from Buena Vista Social club.
Omega y su Mabo Violente, “Tu no Ta Pa Mi”:
A year or two ago he destroyed some shows at SOBs and Amazura but then I think he got his visa revoked cause he fell off the NYC sonar for a minute (though not the Miami sonar—see below). I have been trying to track him down for an interview but my DR connects have so far failed to cough up a phone number (or more accurately track him down and have my companero Jace “DJ Rupture” Clayton interview him, cause I don’t speak so much the Spanish.) SO: if you are reading this and happen to be Omega’s cousin or live down the street from him in Santo Domingo, give me a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fuego ft Pitbull and Omega, “Mi Alma Se Muere” remix