Miami's Jesse Perez Talks Booty Music, The Bangbus, and Grinding Chongitas

Categories: Local Music, Q&A
The 305 has always been about bumping and grinding to ass-clapping booty bass music. And it ain't gonna change if homeboy Jesse Perez gets his way.

The DJ-producer and dirty mastermind behind Mr. Nice Guy Records has been busy releasing sleazy, bass-infused jacking house grooves on the local scene for years. But in 2012, he also began enjoying his fair share of international exposure, thanks to releases on esteemed labels like Nervous, Hot Creations, and Off Recordings.

With titles like "Tales From An 8th Street Motel", "Hialeah House Party" and "Dejen De Comer Tanta Pinga", Jesse is exporting an entire Miamian party culture to international dancefloors. And if his tongue is planted firmly in his cheek when it comes to track titles, the grinding on the floor when a Jesse Perez bomb drops is no joke.

Crossfade caugh up with Jesse ahead of his new release "Miami Is My Town" (out on August 20th) to talk about grinding chongitas, Mr. Nice Guy, the new single, and what makes Miami great.

Crossfade: Where in Miami did you grow up? And what sounds and music scenes were you into growing up? Which Miamian artists do you consider most influential?
Jesse Perez: I grew up in the Princeton/Naranja area 'til Hurricane Andrew hit, then lived in Hialeah 'til '95, before moving to Cutler Ridge. Been living there since. I was always into the rap scene. Everything that was playing on The Box ("Music Television You Control") and Power 96, back in the days, I was bumping. Most influential would be 2 Live Crew. Been grinding on all types of females since I was 5, thanks to them. I used to get thrown out of United Way school dances for dry humping.

So when did you get into DJing and production? Did you start out with house, or other styles?
I started DJing and learning production in 2001, thanks to the guys from Black Chiney. I was buying hip-hop, house, and bass records around that time. I never focused on one style, I just liked playing dope shit. I was DJing around Miami for a lot of years playing hip-hop/urban sets (before the word swag came out), and at the same time I was working on house tracks throughout the day.

Getting signed to Hot Creations this year really broke you to a lot of new international listeners. How did you hook up with the label?
I met Lee Foss at Miami Velvet during WMC 2011, after randomly swapping chicks. Luckily I had a CD in my car with some new tracks I had just made. After busting a quick one, I ran outside with nothing but a towel on to grab the CD before he left to his next gig. The following week, he hit me up and said they were interested in signing two of the tracks: "Jesse Don't Sport No Jerri Curl" and "Dejen De Comer Tanta Pinga."

The Mr. Nice Guy Facebook page says "Not accepting demos, we'll contact you if we like your shit." What is your criteria for selecting artists and material that you want to release? Is there a specific sound or vibe you're looking for to define the label?
We're not looking for any other artists. What I want to do now with the label is push a few artists really well, rather than constantly releasing material from different guys. We mainly look for originality. I don't want guys that download loop packs and produce as a hobby -- there's plenty of labels that are dump sites for people like that. I just look for real talent, no phonies. We push a very distinct sound from what everyone else is doing. Some call it hood house or gangsta house. I refer to it as ass-clapping music or bump 'n' grind. It's all about having a good time.

There's a lot of dick references and sexually explicit content to your label and work. Is it just humor, or are you trying to be ironic about Miami's gangsta booty music culture? Or are we looking to deeply into it? What does your abuelita think about track titles like "Kiss Jesse On The Dick"? 
There's definitely some humor behind it. I always tell folks that all the good names were already taken. But I think when you make raw shit, you can name a track anything that you want. And of course, I grew up listening to Luke and 2 Live Crew, Uncle Al, DJ Laz and everything booty.

I was at the backyard jams, grinding on chongitas in the '90s. I didn't grow up in the Netherlands or France, so I'm not gonna follow their structure of doing things. I embrace the Miami I know. And folks love the titles too. In the UK, I'll be walking into a party and have a few peeps shout "Yo Jesse, Slang That D". As for Abuela, she's the freakiest lady I've ever met. My track titles don't compare to the crazy shit that comes out her mouth. I love her for that -- she's a bold woman.

How do you feel the Miami dance music scene has changed since you were first going out? Has the underground genuinely grown here? Do we have the potential of becoming a true mecca like the ones in Europe? 
The movement has grown a lot, there's a shitload of parties now. At least four days out of the week, you can find a nice jam. We're not confined to going to one club to hear good underground music as before, and with the warm weather we have here, there's no reason why music enthusiasts from out of town should only come during WMC. It's Ibiza year-round here pretty much. I salute those who genuinely work hard everyday to make that happen.

What are your thoughts on the mainstream explosion of "EDM" this past year? Good or bad?
Well it's a bit disappointing that the ones benefiting are garbage, or just getting into the scene to see what they can take from it rather than give or add to it. But in reality, it might be a good thing later down the road. Those 16 year-olds jamming to electro and Swedish House Mafia are gonna get older and wiser. Meanwhile, guys like myself are gonna be there waiting for them, and they're gonna thank us for giving them another option. They're gonna recognize real shit, not fabricated beats that have been pushed in their ears by major corporations. They're gonna thank Jesse Perez for bump 'n' grind, because grinding on a chongita is always better than waving a giant glowstick around.

We spoke to Oscar G this year about homegrown Miami house, and he name-checked you as one of the producers who define that local flavor. What is "Miami house" though? What does Miami house mean to you?  
I should've smoked before doing this interview so I could come up with better philosophical answers. Murk set the platform for Miami house, and from there everyone started adding to it. I think for a while the Oscar G tribal sound was what most would note as Miami house. Miami is a melting pot, and that's how I would interpret my version of Miami house. It has no color -- just raw, uncut vibes.

Your whole sound and image is very strongly rooted in your Miamian identity, like it's very important for you to to represent the 305 to the rest of the world. What is Miami to you? What do you love about our city and what do you hate about it?
Miami is free pastelitos at Leon Medical Center and more. I don't hate anything about here, although it would be nice to see more local artists getting radio support. Play some SpaceGhostPurp or ¡Mayday! from time to time. (Pitbull and Flo Rida are already well off.) But in general, I love this city. Fuckin' Bangbus is filmed here, you gotta love this shit. Where do they find these chongitas?

So what can you tell us about your new single "Miami is My Town"?
I made that track specifically for big-bottomed females. It's gonna cause a pregnancy boom when it drops on August 20.

Will Miami always be your town, or do you see yourself moving to a bigger dance music capital in Europe if the demand grows?
Miami will always be where I reside. I got all of my family here. Career-wise, moving to Europe would be the more logical move. If you're living in the States, you have to work a hundred times harder than everyone in Europe in order to play there. But I'm good with just renting a place for the summer there and doing tours back fourth throughout the year.

So what can fans expect from you and the label for the rest of the year? Any forthcoming projects or releases?
I got an EP with Heidi's Jackathon Jams label. I'm also working on my second album. It's not gonna have so many club tracks as the Tales From An 8th Street Motel album. I'm focusing more on creating an album people will bump from beginning to end. As for the label, I have releases from artist like Panos & Sentenza, S.K.A.M, Sishi Rosch, Sex Sells, and Hectik Rivero. All the tracks are dope, baby-making shit!

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