Pedro Gerardo Torruelas, better known as DJ Playero, was a key figure in the dissemination of reggaeton during its formative period in the 1990s in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Beginning in the early 1990s, he produced a series of mixtapes that synthesized hip-hop and reggae rhythms with Spanish-language freestyling. These tapes circulated around the barrios of San Juan and were highly influential upon the generation that would go on to define reggaeton in the coming decade. For instance, Daddy Yankee got his start with DJ Playero, debuting on the Mixtape Playero 34, which was recorded in a small studio in one of Puerto Rico’s caseríos and was originally released in 1992.
During the late 1990s, as the proto-reggaeton style began to grow popular thanks to ‘The Noise’, a club-based collective that issued a long-running series of CDs, DJ Playero began reissuing his old mixtapes from the early to mid-’90s. He also recorded new ones, issuing them via BM Records as well. Playero en DVD: Su Trayectoria (2003) was the culmination of this activity, aiming to cement his legacy as a key pioneer of the Reggaeton movement worldwide.
Bomba Con Buya
Bomba con Buya is a Chicago-based ensemble with a traditional yet innovative approach to Afro-Puerto Rican Bomba. Developed during the 18th century among the island’s African descendants, Bomba is Puerto Rico’s oldest surviving music and dance form. Buya means ‘good spirit’ in Taino. Bomba con Buya strives to embody this idea through high-impact performances and community-centered workshops, including artistic dialogue with historians in Puerto Rico and collaborative projects with groups such as Jarochicanos (Mexico), Laruni Hati (Belize), and Tamboula (Haiti). The ensemble is celebrating its fifth anniversary this November, however several members of Bomba con Buya have been committed to studying and sharing the Bomba tradition for more than twenty years.
Amara Betty Martin aka Rebel Betty is a DJ, Visual Artist and Organizer from Chicago. Her work focuses on preserving cultural and community engagement, activism and education. She began DJing with Que Horas Son? and has since played Cumbiasazo, Quennect 4, Basement Boogie, Beat Swap Meet, Mole de Mayo, Deja Vu, Mexico City and more. Her musical focus is on Afro-Latino and African roots music including Afro-Columbian cumbia, guaracha, bomba, electro-cumbias of the 90s, salsa clasica as well as experimental and space sounds. Natural drum beats, cowbell and timbal are staple markers for her musical sets. Rebel Betty stresses the importance of promoting dance and music as a spiritual liberator, healer and ancestral community bonding experience.
Lester Rey + Logan Lu
Spoken word and Reggaeton meet in Chicago. Latin Soul and Boogaloo Urbano artist Lester Rey with street poet Logan Lu come together to inject that gritty city style into the island sound of Reggaeton. The colorful lyrics of Logan Lu and fresh voice of Lester Rey will have you dancing and bumping.
Mano (Los Angeles CA) is the moniker of Sergio Flores for all things global, rhythmic, and tropical. He represents the West coast contingent of the FEX collective and connects culture party crews to join forces across the nation. It’s all about exploring cultural roots and heritage, then having fun with the music. Born and raised in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago in the 80s, he was exposed to everything from house, hip-house, rap, and new wave at the school dances and his older sister’s house parties. Mano was also influenced by the neighborhood sounds of cumbia, merengue, salsa, and banda while growing up in the local Latino community. Currently residing in Los Angeles, he’s looking forward to crossing ethnic borders from coast to coast, and producing cultural discourse via the recent creation of the Wildfire! series with the likes of Surya Dub and Afrolicious.
A member of Sonic Diaspora and People’s DJ Collective, Afroqbano is originally from Cuba and now living in Chicago. In Habana, he worked as a regular DJ for a number of underground house and Hip Hop clubs and produced and toured with some of the most well-known artists and ensembles in Cuba. Since moving to the United States, Afroqbano has continually expanded on his style & influence, developed his acumen as a producer/remixer, and shared stages with luminaries like Mos Def, Pete Rock, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Rich Medina, and La Santa Cecilia. While the Afro-Cuban and Latin rhythms of his culture are central to his sound, he embraces and merges a wide range of global & soulful music.
Born and raised in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood David Chavez (DJ Sound Culture) has always had a great affinity for world cultures and deep music. His passion for both has to a large extent laid the path in front of him for most of his life. In the DJ booth Sound Culture is a cultural chemist of sorts, exploring the world’s sounds and finding the threads that tie us all together globally. From Bhangra to Balkan Beat, African Soukous to Latin House, he knows how to navigate your auditory senses. His live mixes are both dynamic and seamlessly cohesive and whether you’re a world music enthusiast or dance floor regular, he keeps things interesting.
DJ Set + Live Visuals
caliXta DJs and VJs as an independent freelancer and as part of Chicago’s CumbiaSazo crew. Since 2012, caliXta has been honing her craft and realizing a vision of creating respectful and healing dancefloors. Although originally from Chicago, a lot of her formation & scheming around liberation and revolutionary partying started in DC from kickbacks with friends and the Maracuyeah & Anthology of Booty queer femme parties. Upon returning to Chicago in 2011, she felt like similar soul-elevating club spaces with beautiful and enriching music weren’t common and set out to co-found dále shine to help create a scene for a deep & nuanced variety of digital Latinx music. In 2013, she joined the CumbiaSazo crew and found kindred spirits with which she could continue building communal spaces through art and music. Along her journey as an artist, caliXta has been fortunate to work with many talented artists, collectives, and organizations who continue to shape her visions and dreams.
Itzi Nallah x Tifflove
Itzi Nallah and Tifflove are the co-founders of CumbiaSazo, Chicago’s largest and one of the US’ most expansive cumbia + global bass parties. Together they aim to support dance spaces & communities that are diverse & compassionate and as a DJ and MC offer performances that are life-affirming and fun. Itzi Nallah has worked previously with FEX, Sonic Diaspora and Peoples DJs Collective and a recent tour with CumbiaSazo saw Itzi Nallah, Tifflove + crewmate caliXta work dance floors throughout the midwest, southwest & west coast. Show highlights include creating spaces and sharing stages with acts ranging from Ozomatli, Rich Medina, Nickodemus and A Tribe Called Red to Pete Rock, Javier Estrada, El Dusty and Haitus Kaiyote.
Facebook Event | Arts & Vendors Lineup
Photos: Rebel Betty by William Camargo; Bomba Con Buya, Sound Culture & caliXta by Carolina Sánchez, Itzi & Tifflove by Mercedes Zapata, Lester Rey + Logan Lu by GiovanyRevelle