Portugal's underground scene, defined by its signature batida sound, is bubbling over these days. And the label Principe Discos—home to the likes of DJ Marfox and DJ Niggafox, who recently appeared on Baauer's Beats 1 show—has led the way in showcasing the region's unique percussive style. Andy Beta's 2014 profile of the scene explored how a plethora of rhythms with African roots—including "kuduro, zouk, batucada, afro-house, kizomba, [and] tarraxinha"—served as the basis for a new sound called "batida, which roughly translates to 'my beat' or 'my crew's of beats.'" Isolated by urban planners in rundown housing projects far from Portuguese city centers, immigrants from former Portuguese colonies like Angola and Cape Verde have drawn inspiration from their homelands to create unapologetically black music that sounds like nothing else on Earth. Proudly branding themselves "guetto," these artists illustrate the vitality of diasporic communities in the face of cultural and economic oppression.
Early profiles of the Principe Discos-affiliated scene noted the music's insularity; a 2014 Resident Advisor look observed that outside of a few reference points like Steve Aoki and David Guetta, the Lisbon producers' "exposure [to dance music] is almost non-existent." But in the handful of years since the wider world started tuning in, the scene's top dogs, like Marfox and Niggafox, have toured Europe constantly and released on international labels like Halcyon Veil and Lit City Trax. In their wake, I've noticed a trend of young Portuguese producers releasing raw remixes of American rap and R&B, breaking down their source material and reconstructing it with trademark batida, afro-house, kizomba, and tarraxinha elements like pan-flutes, hand drums, and hypnotic basslines.
Below, we've compiled fifteen brilliant examples for you from the likes of DJ Lycox, Afrokillerz, DJ.Jio P, and more. They're all Portuguese, all relatively new, and all guaranteed to shut clubs down on either side of the Atlantic.
1. Fat Joe - "All the Way Up (DJ Lycox and DJ B.Boy Remix)" ft. Remy Ma
DJ Lycox and DJ B.Boy are members of the Lisbon-bred Tia Maria Produções crew. After a successful release on Principe Discos, several members of the group traveled abroad—Lycox now lives in Paris, while B.Boy splits his time between the French and Portuguese capitals. Here, the pair join forces for a vicious flip of Fat Joe and French Montana's summer anthem "All The Way Up," chopping up Fat Joe's voice and the song's earworm synth line and using them as rhythmic elements in a percussive assault. Tap your Timbs twice, Dorothy; we're not in Harlem anymore.
2. Jay Sean - "Ride It (DJ.Jio P Tarraxinha Remix)"
One of the most exciting talents in the batida scene is Lisbon's DJ.Jio P. I first encountered him via his gorgeous remix of "Nhanhado" by Mozambican singer Filomena Maricoa, and a dive into his Soundcloud reveals a knack for irresistible edits of tracks from across the musical spectrum. Here, he places a hypnotic tarraxinha groove under Jay Sean's 2008 "Ride It" acapella. It's a stripped-down, sexy tune, perfect for grabbing waists and sliding into DMs.
3. Desiigner - "Panda (Nassem.B x Dj Lycox x Moris.B Remix)"
Spend any time deep in Portuguese Soundcloud, and you will soon face an undeniable truth—these guys love "Panda." There are many worthy contenders for the title of best Portuguese "Panda" remix, but I could make a strong argument for this collaboration between Lycox and the French producers Nassem.B and Moris.B from the SMProduções crew. Martial drums, tinny digital choir samples, and propulsive batida rhythms transform Desiigner's celebratory jam into a complex, paranoid rave-up.
4. Meek Mill - "R.I.C.O (DJ MaboOku Remix)" ft. Drake
Angola-born, Lisbon-based Principe Discos veteran DJ MaboOku strips Meek Mill and Drake from their "R.I.C.O" collaboration—the one that led to their beef last year—and gasses up the instrumental with pounding polyrhythms.
5. Chris Brown - "Grass Aint Greener (DJ NinOo Remix)"
Hailing from Oeiras, Portugal, DJ NinOo is a young talent making waves internationally. Last week we premiered a song he released on Los Angeles label TAR. He finds unexpected sweetness in Chris Brown's "Grass Ain't Greener" instrumental (produced by Nikhil), adding bouncy wood-blocks to the original's elegiac pads.
6. Tory Lanez - "Diego (Afrokillerz Remix)"
Comprised of DJ Safari, DJ Landim, and DJ Vieira, Afrokillerz is a Lisbon-based collective with Angolan roots. Per their SoundCloud, their productions reference styles as diverse as afro-house, kuduro, and kizomba. Here, Safari takes the reigns for an incandescent take on Tory Lanez' 2016 heater "Diego," unleashing flurries of drums and sparkling flutes like as many champagne showers. DJ MaboOku sums it up with an enthusiastic Soundcloud comment—"FILHA DA P… DESSSE BEAT"—which translates to something quite simple: "SON OF A BITCH…THIS BEAT."
7. O.T. Genasis - "CoCo (DJ Lycox Remix)"
DJ Lycox soups up O.T. Genasis' hyperactive 2015 anthem "Coco" with whistles, hand drums, and thunderous rhythms. It sounds like the complete sonic output of a huge street carnival, all happening at once.
8. Rihanna - "Work (DJ B.Boy Remix)"
Few songs inspired better remixes this year than Rihanna's "Work"; here, DJ B.Boy gets down to business with a rough-and-ready spin on the sultry smash inspired by afro-house, a rhythmic variant of house music from South Africa that's popular among diasporic communities in Europe.
9. Fat Joe - "All The Way Up (DJ Kingfox Kizomba Remix)" ft. Remy Ma
Like "Panda," "All The Way Up" seems to have struck some kind of nerve in Portugal, with producers across the country releasing numerous remixes over the last six months. On this one, DJ Kingfox—a 16-year-old producer from the central Portuguese city of Coimbra—adds swing to Fat Joe and Remy Ma's uptown swagger with a pulsing kizomba rhythm.
10. 50 Cent - "Straight to the Bank (DJ BeBeDeRa Guetto Zouk Remix)"
DJ BeBeDeRa is a prolific Lisbon artist whose professed influences include kizomba, afro-house, fodência, tarraxo, and guetto zouk music. Here, she takes 50 Cent to the carnival with a hypnotic guetto zouk flip of 50 Cent's "Straight to the Bank", luxuriating in his "ha, ha, ha, ha, ha" ad-lib.
11. Future - "Fuck Up Some Commas (Breyth Angolastral Remix)"
Breyth is an Angolan producer living in Lisbon with several hot and heavy remixes under his belt. His obligatory "Panda" flip is great, but my favorite is this captivating afro-house take on Future's "Fuck Up Some Commas." Grab the free download, drop it at a house party, and thank me later.
12. Desiigner - "Panda (DJ.Jio P Afrobruku Remix)"
No way was DJ.Jio P going to leave "Panda" alone—all he needs is martial snares, a snip of vocals, and a nasty synth line to whip it into shape. Can Desiigner just go work with these guys in Lisbon already?
13. DJ Lycox - "Stop Playing Wit My Name"
DJ Lycox takes a page from the book of the Jersey Club meme remixers and uses Birdman's immortal "stop playing wit my name" quote from his Breakfast Club interview as the hook for a booming batida anthem.
14. Future - "SH!T (DJ BeBeDeRa Marimba Remix)"
It's hard to go wrong with a Future remix, and BeBeDera's take on "SH!T" is a certified firestarter. She throws fistfuls of chugging drums under his gruff verses, generating a frankly stunning friction between the vocal's Atlanta aggression and the beat's Lisbon swing. "I do it cause I love it," writes BeBeDera in her Soundcloud bio—she's under the radar for now, but don't be surprised when she pops off internationally next year.
15. Skrillex & Damian "Jr Gong" Marley - "Make It Bun Dem (DJ Bronzeado Remix)"
The wildest Skrillex remix you'll hear this year comes from DJ Bronzeado, a 22-year-old from Odivelas, Portugal. Take a second to appreciate this song's mind-boggling trans-Atlantic heritage. Bronzeado is an immigrant to Portugal from Luanda, Angola; here, he uses African-inspired rhythms to remix an American producer's collaboration with a Jamaican vocalist. You could teach a class on the diasporic threads wrapped up in this one tune—or better yet, you could dance your ass off to it.