Jesse Perez on New Debut Album, Kama Sucia: "Pastelitos, Bass, and Foreplay"
As a '90s Miami kid, Jesse Perez has bass in his DNA. In a way, his signature bump 'n' grind style of house music -- designed, as Jesse says, for "grinding chongitas" -- is descended directly from the booty bass that ruled Miami airwaves in the '90s via 2 Live Crew and the like.
"I bought four 12-inch subwoofers three years before I even had a car I could put them in," Jesse tells Crossfade about the early days. "I had a ten-inch Bazooka installed direct to the stock radio in my mom's '95 Aerostar when I was in middle school. I'd crank the bass and play those Competition Bass cassettes that had the 'we're not responsible for damaged speakers' disclaimer on them.
"Miami bass influenced me in a way that made me do a lot of shit that just made no sense," he adds. "But I loved it! So when I first started this new project, I made sure that I had all the right gear to deliver that low-end bass that I was highly inspired by while growing up."
The new project, of course, is Jesse's debut album, Kama Sucia (The Art Of Slangin' D), which drops in February. Paying tribute to the classic bass sound and culture that he soaked up as a teenager, it's as quintessentially Miami a record as we're likely to hear all year.
Still, while Kama Sucia has its share of ass-clapping peak-time club tracks, it's not just a collection of dance-floor tools. Slower baby-making jams and interludes help tie the album's 16 tracks together.
"This definitely wasn't a collection of tracks that were just laying around," explains Jesse. "It was slowly put together. A few years ago, I came up with the idea of doing an album. I wanted to make an album that could be listened to from beginning to end by different audiences.
"Most DJs do these really weird, out-there chillout tracks on their albums. I said fuck it, I'm gonna make an album that has some peak hour club tracks, but some dope downtempo tracks I'd enjoy listening to during foreplay."
Woven through with colorful Miami field recordings and titles like "Pastelito Party at Leon Medical Center" and "Hialeah Chongita," the album's interludes offer entertainingly authentic snapshots of life in the 305. You'd have to be a Miami native to truly understand the references, though, which makes one wonder about the role of Jesse Perez -- internationally celebrated DJ-producer -- as an ambassador of Miami culture to the world.
"This is simply my story -- my experiences put into music," says Jesse. "Like 'Pastelito Party,' for instance, is a collection of multiple recordings I did while at Leon Medical Center when I would take my grandfather to his doctor appointments.
"Do I see myself as an ambassador of Miami culture? I don't know," he adds. "I just don't pretend to be from somewhere that I'm not. But I will say, Hialeah is now known in the UK. And croquetas are next."
Jesse Perez's Kama Sucia Album-Release Party. Saturday, February 8. Do Not Sit on the Furniture, 423 16th St., Miami Beach. The show starts at 11 p.m. and admission costs $10. Call 305-450-3809 or visit facebook.com/DoNotSit.