Column- Bass Unearthed: Munchi vs. Azealia Banks

Last week, the impending release of rapper Azealia Banks’ music video for “Esta Noche” quickly evolved into a collision of two very different mindsets within the music industry. After a copyright clash with Munchi — the DJ behind the track’s instrumental — the video went unreleased.

So, what happened?

Munchi teamed up with DJ David Heartbreak in 2010 and released Fuck H&M, a 5-track EP on Selenga Records, free of charge. The third track featured, “Esta Noche,” was a remix of Montell Jordan’s “Get It On Tonight.” It was instantly well-received in underground electronic music for its funky, hard-hitting, bass-heavy beats. “Esta Noche” helped pioneer the beginnings of the Moombahton movement, which is defined by the fusion of house music with reggaeton.

This July, Banks released her mixtape Fantasea, and things started bubbling. The tracks were praised for their originality and backing instrumentals. Many featured the work of forward-thinking producers such as Machinedrum and Hudson Mohawke. And yes, Munchi’s “Esta Noche” was was selected as one of the mixtape’s instrumentals.

Unlike a normal mixtape, Interscope and Polydor made Fantasea a commercial release, which is uncommon in the hip-hop industry. Mixtapes tend to feature instrumentals from other artists and have copyright claims. It’s not clear if the other producers were contacted, for no one other than Munchi has spoken out.

Munchi took to Twitter to rant, and soon enough, the truth about some aspects of the music industry poured out. A public apology, along with $25,000, were offered in return for the single going through for release, but that figure was doubled when Munchi lashed out further.

Thanks to the digital age we live in, Banks was able to offer up a public response immediately. “I’m still shooting the esta noche video tomorrow. *kanye shrug*” she tweeted. Though it was set for a Sept. 30 release date, the video never surfaced.

Munchi and Banks, two highly respected artists, were working with vastly different mindsets. Munchi released an official statement saying that he would have gone with the release so long that proper credits were given and that he had a little say in the creative process, the latter of which is relatively uncommon within the mainstream music industry, but a sworn-to ideal within the underground electronic dance music community.


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