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America is a melting pot and tonight’s pre-July 4 “Tropical Boom” event at U Street Music Hall is a celebration of musical culture from the Caribbean, the Americas, and Africa. Arts Desk spoke with headliner DJ Poirier and his colleague, rapper Boogat, both of whom are based in Montreal. They will be joined by a number of locals—-Alma Tropicalia (which plays covers of Brazilian tropicalia classics); Empresarios (Latin funk); Fort Knox 5 vs Thunderball (DJs) ; Jay Clue; and Maracuyeah (digital cumbia and more).
Ghislain Poirier, who’s making his D.C. debut, has become recognized as one of the world’s leading tropical bass DJs. Using electro, hip-hop, soca, U.K. funky, and dancehall beats along with vocalists and rappers comfortable with his mesh of those genres, Poirier has DJed around the world and released his own albums and mixes. Around three or four years ago, he began working with Boogat, the Quebec City-raised son of a Mexican mother and a Paraguayan father. Boogat started out spitting verses in French and only recently began rapping more in Spanish, influenced in part by reggaeton.
Boogat says he doesn’t want to limit himself to any one genre. “We are doing this independently,” he says. “We don’t have anyone telling us what to do. We’re now in the post 2.0 music market and it’s not about selling records anymore, it’s about the show. So I just want the songs to have energy and to be effective with a crowd.” Poirier adds, “I am creatively seeking a new approach to rhythms. That’s what’s good about Boogat. He’s fearless with beats. He doesn’t care if its hip-hop or super-electronic music.”
Poirier likens their live sets to those of Jamaican soundsystems—-which feature vocalists toasting over bass-heavy, made-for-gigs recordings. Boogat “can be a hype MC but at the same time we have tracks we are going to perform together so it’s not like he improvises everything,” he says. “We have a structure for leading the dancehall and a good repertoire so we can juggle with that and decide what to do at the moment. So its kinda like boy scouts, we’re prepared for anything.” Poirier says the audience should be prepared to hear “certified bangers…new tracks, and new verses on other peoples’ music. The goal is to make music that does not have any borders even if it’s attached to a specific language.”