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Leader of the Pack: The Beats & Blends of Toy Selectah

Posted in MusicWorld on September 6, 2011 by

Tribal guarachero, moombathon, raverton, dembow. If these words mean nothing to you, you are obviously not hip to the coolest emergent beats in the Latin urban music scene. But we’ll forgive you.

What we won’t forgive is your lacuna when it comes to the mega-talented producer, remixer and innovator Toy Hernández, a.k.a. Toy Selectah. It won’t be long before his name and unique remixes are flooding mainstream American—not just Latin—music scenes with their infectious mix of cumbia, hip-hop and rave elements, combined with sounds from Calle 13, Lil Wayne or Vampire Weekend.

Like many trendsetters, Selectah possesses that bold ability to experiment with musical styles that may not make sense to anyone but him (such as combining cumbia rhythms with electronic beats, or emo sounds with reggae). Before long, in Selectah’s hands, the experiment becomes an international trend. It’s no surprise then that Universal Music Group hired him to be an a&r rep, and in 2005, Selectah was instrumental in developing the company’s urban Latino label, Machete Music. There, he kick-started the careers of such reggaetón heavyweights as Don Omar and Winsin y Yandel.

Currently, the super busy Grammy-nominated producer and internationally famous DJ is lighting up the international club scene. He is mentoring the young pioneers of tribal guarachero, a movement rooted in teenager-filled clubs and private parties in Mexico City and Monterrey. The latter is Selectah’s hometown, as well as the birthplace of Sonidero Nacional, the musical collective he co-founded in the 90s. His hip-hop group Control Machete sold more than a half-million copies of its debut album, helping open the doors to Mexico’s distinct, youthful, urban music fusions reshaping the entire world’s soundscape.

Tribal guarachero’s combination of electronic beats and pre-Hispanic melodies has become so talked about on blogs that Fader ran an in-depth feature profiling the rising subgenre last year. The piece contextualizes and elevates tribal guarachero, explaining that it harnesses “clubbed out sounds that draw on regional folk songs and post-emo culture, cholo attitude and electro-house to create the distinctly Mexican sounds of the 21st century’s newest music.”

There is every reason to believe the tastemaker from Monterrey can do for tribal guarachero what he did for reggaetón. After all, as hard as it is to predict pop culture’s future, one thing is clear: The future of Latin urban music is inextricably linked with the beats of Toy Selectah.