It's really nice to see that Dillon Francis is going to take up the baton to lead moombahton back into the mainstream again. The genre hits five years of age this week, and if anything–besides being the platform for everyone from David Heartbreak to GTA and Bro Safari to stake their claim to the mainstream–it definitely shook up EDM and opened the door for wholly American concepts to invade a largely non-American and global dance environment. However, there's a reason why moombahton didn't break the way that trap did, and why having Dillon Francis as the public mainstream face of the genre works as we enter 2015. In understanding America's difficult issues with race, ethnicity and what we accept as cool, in moombahton erring more white and black than Latino in sound and perception, moombahton may actually end up being quite alive and doing commercially very well.
Foremost, let's break down the concept of Afro-Latino/Hispanic bass music into its component parts of Afro (meaning of African origin) and Latino/Hispanic (meaning of Latin American/Hispanic origin). Moombahton is a mix of dembow, dancehall, and Dutch house (Afro) plus reggaeton and cumbia (Latino/Hispanic) as an influence, too. As well, moombahton is largely American insofar as producers who specialized in the sound, and became popular in the era where the nation's ears opened to dance music and the world's eyes turned to America as the new global EDM tastemaker. Thus, moombahton fell into the vortex of being judged by a market that was judging not just moombahton (but all of dance), by a few pre-conceived American notions of music in general.
In 2010, it had been roughly 40 years since the Fania All-Stars dominated American indie-to-mainstream pop, and five years since Shakira had belly-danced and the likes of Daddy Yankee rapped themselves to Latin-to-pop stardom with a sound more attuned to organic Latin American roots. In the five years since those moments occurred, largely African-American dominated rap had surged to the forefront, artists like Kanye West, Rick Ross, and Jay Z becoming the most relevant pop artists in the world, with absolutely no connection whatsoever to anything Latino or Hispanic in their sounds. Insofar as dance, Kanye West's love of Daft Punk co-signed rap's renewed the ultra mainstream sector of the genre's love affair with electro more than anything else. Thus, moombahton's creation (and sudden popularity) occurred in a strange place at such a strange time in history. A complete outlier to mainstream pop's ears, it's indie cred was immediate, but mainstream ears just weren't ready.
Of course, there are people who will say (quietly, in rooms while not trying to wake 800-pound gorillas) that trap killed moombahton. That's partly untrue. It's rap, and the "Afro" in Afro-Latino that "killed" moombahton. Americans love black music. As well, white Americans, brown Americans, red Americans, and yellow Americans love black American music. Insofar as moombahton, how many more cumbia than heavier bass-inspired moombahton tracks really popped off as giant hits? Alvin Risk and Tittsworth's "Pendejas?" For the most part it's the dembow and Dutch house-inspired tracks that are favored–you know, the ones that sound like the rap music that black folks have been making and inspiring every other shade of person to make for nearly a half century.
Trap worked because it's rap, and isn't very "Latino." There's nothing wrong with anything being Latin or Hispanic, but in a country where Latinos are still viewed as immigrants whose rights are to be debated in Presidential elections, it's different than, say, being black and one of your own race is the President of the country where the rights of Latinos and Hispanics are being discussed. There's a clear imbalance presented there that showcases why moombahton didn't work the first time. A fantastic case in point in regards to this is Kennedy Jones' star-making trap remix of Elvis Crespo's "Suavamente." It's arguably one of the best "trap" remixes ever, occupying that rarefied air of Flosstradamus' remix of Major Lazer's "Original Don." Why did Jones' remix catch like wildfire? Well, in literally flipping moombahton's "Latino-Afro" mix of influences in the "Afro-Latino" direction, it hit upon an intrinsic desire that many likely didn't realize they had to see the balance re-shifted in a way more pleasing to American pop ears. Between the two aforementioned tracks, the race was on, and the window of opportunity that moombahton had to cross over was shut down faster than you can say "damn son, where'd you find that?"
With Dillon Francis now squarely at the helm (and yes, it's easy to argue that he, moreso than inventor Dave Nada is the guy now helming the ship as it points at the dock of mainstream credibility), moombahton operates on two levels. For the mainstream, moombahton now has a white face. This is important because as we've learned from Eminem and Macklemore on the "Afro" side and from now having a taco-loving producer representing moombahton on the "Latino" side, America loves black and Latino/Hispanic music and concepts, but when a white face is slapped on them, it makes them palatable and VERY commercially viable. Insofar as the "underground," moombahton still gets to be fun, wild and wholly progressive. Extrapolated United States Census data shows that as an American society, the country's white majority will cease to exist by 2043. Thus, we're still roughly three decades away from a place where the need for a white face for minority things will be necessary for them to make sense to the broader American population at-large. Until then, moombahton is still a fertile space from testing progressive advancements in production and likely has a chance to cross over, too. While not a culturally ideal situation, nothing that's American arguably really is. Thus, moombahton's likely about to blow up, and we have a "Masta Blasta" to thank.