Music criticism has always been deeply involved in the discovery, development and documentation of purported scenes, grouping artists together along sonic, cultural and geographic lines that often reduce constituent members to mere footnotes in a greater dialogue. Whether a scene is organic or not is often lost in the ether, either deliberately ignored for the sake of a false origin story, or simply not intriguing enough to push with any verve. In this frenzy to group, structure and delineate the contours of contemporary music, the study of true origin stories; of harmonious, biotic entities arising from unexpected territory is increasingly rare.
That being said, if the previous descriptors were to apply to any particular scene, it would be Mexico City’s NAAFI, a four year old club night, record label and politico-cultural movement that has rocketed into the global dance music consciousness in the past year. Started by Tomás Davó, Paul Marmota, Lauro Robles (Lao) and Mexican Jihad, NAAFI has developed with pace and aplomb into an entity with a singular, outward-looking identity that doesn’t obscure its original members. Under the banner of “peripheral rhythms”, both a literal pointer to the disparate percussive elements utilized by NAAFI artists and a risk-taking mantra to live by, NAAFI has approached club music culture with a curiosity and consciousness rarely exhibited, aligning themselves with Diamante to the south and Fade to Mind to the north to create something of a progressive musical spine that runs throughout the Americas.
A number of Mexican producers have risen out of the ring of influence established by NAAFI and Alejandro Núñez aka Zutzut, hailing from Monterrey, has proven to be one of the most sonically adventurous and mindful of the dialogue constantly unfolding between Caribbean, American, African and European sounds. With only one release to his name, a self-titled EP on his own Extasis imprint, Núñez has augmented his resume with a number of twisted bootlegs and collaborations with fellow NAAFI members, exploring the “de-contextualization” of samples and how genre epithets can be reorganized in different forms. If anything , the modern R&B continuum is the strongest thread in his work (his first Soundcloud upload was a TLC remix), but kuduro and dembow also take prominent positions, allowing Núñez to contort the works of Kelela, Clara La San and others into body-led percussive workouts.
And like the majority of NAAFI’s constituents, Zutzut is not defined by traditional ethnomusicologic barriers, instead driven by a unique conception of localism, or in the words of Mexican Jihad, “something that resonates because it’s coming from where you are and from what you are living.” Next Monday (10/11), NAAFI’s Paul Marmota, Lao and Mexican Jihad will take over Total Freedom and Josh Peace‘s Mustache Mondays night in Los Angeles (unfortunately no Zutzut this time around), a can’t miss opportunity to witness the malleability of the label and a selection of its star producers.
Paul Marmota – Cora
SVNTA MVERTE – Ella Da Shade
DJ Lycox – Underground
Rudeboyz – Sagwinya
BOY/FRIEND – Adam (Joey LaBeija’s Broken Heart Of A Down Bottom Edit)
Spaceseeds – Wind
#BB – AIRMASK ft. CUTEBOI~
KELZ N Boi-1da – ENEMYGOTITTF’d
Lechuga Zafiro – سكين
Clap Freckles – Danza de la lluvia (Paul Marmota edit)
Tomás Urquieta – Rossetta
Dizzee Rascal – Strings Hoe (Wen Refix) (Fallow’s Tropical Mix)
Ynfynyt Scroll – Freetown
Zutzut feat. Lao – Momentos De XTC (CYPHR Remix)
Zutzut – ????
Cristian Dinamarca – Culisueltas
Clara La San – Let You Go
False Witness – Makina
CYPHR – ????
Zutzut – ????
Lechuga Zafiro X Zutzut – La Beretta
OMAAR – TTHHUUGG
Imaabs – Voy
Poor Sport – GET LiiKE ME ft. Divoli S’vere
LAO – LOST HERITAGE
TF SCRAPE / T.I – Fall Out the Frame Guzu Drummed