Toy Selectah - Mex Machine

Mex Machine, Toy Selectah
Mad Decent, Mexico

Rating: 78

by Carlos Reyes

Monterrey filmmaker Rene U. Villarreal recently captivated the film festival circuit with his masterful debut Cumbia Callera, a film with minimal dialogue that through the magic of Cumbia (+ Son, Paseo & Puya), referenced everything from Cinderella, to 3-some erotica. Plenty has been said about Cumbia’s status as one of the new forms of global pop, and after witnessing its cultural rundown across various platforms, it’s time for a slight (if not shallow) re-contextualization of the cult phenomenon.

There are Cumbia-clerk scholars out there who would do a far better job outlining the health & credit report of the genre. I would however, arrive at the same landscape on an individual scale; there’s not a single profile more exciting to dissect than that of Toy Selectah. It might be a geographical matter, but Cumbia and all its mutations always seem to be pointing to Selectah as a sort of ultimate visionary. The legendary Mexican producer has built more bridges than anyone else in the world of Cumbia & Hip Hop, and those are the same channels that now find him celebrating the global-speaking Mex Machine, Toy’s best release to date.

After a few transitional releases (The Mex More, Bersa Discos, Sonidero Nacional), this 6-piece jukebox marks Toy Selectah’s career as a sort of career landmark in his role of music executioner & researcher. Mex Machine is a record in which percussion, harmonies, drums, beats, synths, excerpts & lines of speed melt into a global-sound village. Album opener “Sonidero Compay” shows the instinctive eclecticism that Selectah has embraced for many years (never discriminating genres or caring about indie vs. mainstream tags). Like a shamanistic workshop, "... Compay" is a piece that celebrates its cumbia-reggaetonesque vertebrate by embracing its own spiritual paradox. Despite always having both feet outside the norm, tracks like “La Ravertona” and “El Sabanero Raver” showcase a crowd-pleasing creator in absolute control over his medium.

Production-wise, Selectah employs a wide treatment to every piece in Mex Machine, mostly on the side of the hypnotic. There is physicality in every idea, and there’s plenty of room for exercise; hence, you could sense his music as foreign policy and realize it is of maverick caliber. The infrastructure in album-best “Half Colombian Half Mexican Bandit” is dualistic and celebratory to that extraordinary group of people in Monterrey (and other parts of Mexico) who see themselves as 'honorable' Colombians. Toy Selectah is Cumbia narrative. Whether it is Digital Cumbia, Hip Hop, Reggaeton, Rave, 3BALL or Ruidoson, Selectah is always ahead of the game as an artist, curator & tastemaker. Mex Machine succeeds in almost every artistic test it sets up, it’s a sonic minefield.