Eight years after house producer Dave Nada accidentally birthed a subgenre by playing slowed down Dutch house records to satiate a crowd of school-skipping, reggaeton-loving teenagers at an impromptu mid-afternoon basement party in Prince George’s County, Maryland, moombahton finds itself having a moment of sorts. Between Justin Bieber’s “Sorry,” Sia’s “Cheap Thrills,” and Drake’s “One Dance,” the dembow-riddim driven sound, melded with soulful grooves occupied three of the top 11 positions on Billboard’s Hot 100 Songs chart. However, when Baltimore-born, DC-based, underground-renowned Jon Kwest enlisted an impressive roster of producers to create a Donald Trump protest compilation of soulful moombahton tunes (sales directly benefit the ACLU and Planned Parenthood), something a little deeper at the core of the sound was unearthed.
Moombahton’s growth was given a big boost by producers like David Heartbreak, who, as the subgenre turned just one year of age, began blending moombahton with reggae, dancehall, rap, reggaeton and classic American R&B into the moombahton variant known as moombahsoul. With less synth layers and bass drops, moombahsoul is a suave and “mature” take on moombahton that proves, even nearly a decade later, to be as potentially catchy as it is emotionally restorative. In a very candid conversation, Kwest discusses what went into compiling these tracks, what the present and future hold for the genre, and how there’s so much more to learn about just what moombahton’s simultaneous globalized and local community perspective can provide a world in need of a unifying call to action.