“Miami is much more than WMC, growing up here was amazing,” Jesse Perez tells DJ Mag when we ask him what it was like to grow up in Miami, and not just visit it once a year. “It's a melting pot of people from different countries, so I got a taste of a variety of cultures. Attending backyard house parties were very common on any given weekend, as well as going to the popular roller-skating rink called Hot Wheels,” Jesse continues. “Apart from the sunny beaches and Latin cuisine, those were the things that stood out the most. And, of course, the women here have always been second-to-none, so yup... one can say I had a great childhood.”
Ah yes, women. Taking inspiration from 2 Live Crew, the sexually explicit — some would say misogynist — Miami hip-hop crew who had tracks called things like ‘We Want Some Pussy’ and ‘Me So Horny’, Jesse was drawn to the Miami bass sound. “It was like a package, it wasn't just one thing,” he says, likening its multi-faceted nature to the different strands of hip-hop like graffiti, breakdancing etc. “Miami Bass was more than a sound to me. I was drawn in by the girls that would dance to it, the cars that would have these huge subwoofers blasting bass music, and of course the beats themselves.”
More rolling than hip-hop and with more old skool electro-type sounds, Miami bass — or booty bass — exploded out of Miami in the mid-‘90s, and latterly the ghettotech sound of Detroit cats like DJ Assault has been like a cousin to Miami bass. This is where Jesse Perez steps into the arena with his productions. Catching the eye of the Hot Creations crew and Heidi’s Jackathon Jams for an ‘Inter-Racial Booty Call’ a couple of years ago, Jesse’s new album is perhaps the real street sound of Miami.
Jesse calls his music “bump & grind”. “It’s music you can get intimate with,” he says. “Same applies to the club tracks on the album. I don't picture hands in the air when my tracks are playing, I make and play music in the hope that two people will have a connection. Coming from playing hip-hop parties most of my life, I’ve enjoyed making those intimate moments when two strangers would connect. By connect I mean grinding on each other, not connecting like eHarmony online.”
Jesse’s album is called ‘Kama Sucia’. “‘Kama Sucia’ is my interpretation of the Kama Sutra — from a Cuban-American’s point of view,” he says. “I came up with the name. Why did I name it that? Why not name it that? All the cool album names like ‘Space’, ‘Eternity’ and ‘Cold Berlin Basement’ were already taken. I had to dig deeper, and be more original.”
Kicking off with old skool synth and body-poppin’ electro beats, Jesse intercuts some American football commentary — from Miami, Florida, natch — into the intro cut before coming with the slo-mo title track. ‘Ain’t No Shame In This Game’ is like a late ‘80s Coldcut cut before it gets a bit sleazier with ‘Still Slangin’ That D 1’ (also the subtitle of the album) and ‘This Girl (Be Sucking That Dick)’. “One can say ‘Slangin' That D’ means being well-endowed,” explains Jesse. “It can also be used to speak of how great someone’s DJ set was. For example, ‘Wow that DJ was straight D Slangin' all night’.” The whole album is shot through with an old skool sensibility, sounding like it was recorded on old analogue equipment — which Jesse confirms was the case. “I don't use plug-ins, mostly because my computer is as ancient as the synths I use,” he admits, refusing to say what hardware he does actually use. “All I can say is I've always tried to make a lot out of nothing.”
Jesse seems to get offended when DJ Mag asks if the scantily-clad lady in his press shots is a hooker — “I respect everyone’s hustle to make money and provide for themselves and their family, but I would never, ever pay for vagina,” he says — so we quickly ask him where the best place to listen to his album would be. “Anywhere that has proper speakers,” he believes. “Ideally a car stereo works perfect. I arranged this album in a particular order so it can be listened to from beginning to end, so I enjoy listening to it when going on long drives. Also, maybe not every country has this but in Miami we have these hourly motels that come with a nice soundsystem and a hot tub. That's probably my top pick, since this album really sets the foreplay vibe.”