THINKING ABOUT MALA IN CUBA
I feel very weird about Mala in Cuba, the album—I don’t think it’s particularly mindblowing like a lot of people did, presumably because I spend half my life listening to producers/DJs who already live in Latin America reckoning with their own historical/traditional music and bringing it into a futuristic conundrum, to far more interesting results. (HEY who I often play on my radio show, plugggg.) That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy some of the tracks on there—”Changuito,” particularly, which brought the most ground-level Afro-Cuban rhythms to the forefront of the song and let Mala’s production live as a proscenium—but in general I felt it was heralded rather typically, as this GENIUS GILLES MAKING THIS THING HAPPEN, when the very thing he was trying to make happen has BEEN happening for years. (I will never forget the first time I heard about tribal guarachero aka 3ball, via Geko Jones, in 2008: around the same time I was experiencing cumbia digital via ZZK Records.) Also, Mala in Cuba has that Gilles lounge jazz steez that is really 2003. Anyway though, I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t find it nearly as banging and/or thought provoking as music this year by people like Javier Estrada, Chancha Via Circuito, Teehn Bwitches, Sonido Guay Neñé, Los Macuanos, or IF YA NEED THAT UK INFLUENCE, BOMBA ESTEREO’s amazing Elegancia Tropical album. You know what I hated though? People reviewing the Mala in Cuba album using words like “exotic” “foreign” and other synonyms for “other.” Like. Come on dudes.