Published On: Fri, Feb 16th, 2018

DJ Chuckie on J Balvin’s ‘Machika’ & Bubbling his way to the Billboard Latin Charts

The Suriname native who made his name on the Dutch club scene co-produced the J Balvin hit featuring Jeon & Anitta.

Chuckie-press-photo-2018-a-billboard-1548_0Clyde Narain, known as DJ Chuckie on the international dance scene, has taken a road less traveled to Billboard's Hot Latin Songs chart. A native of Suriname, he spent his formative years in Holland’s clubs. He now lives in Aruba. With his frequent collaborator, production team ChildsPlay, Chuckie is the co-producer of “Machika,” the Latin chart hit featuring Colombian star J Balvin, Balvin protege Jeon (who is from Aruba) and Brazil’s Anitta.

While some listeners may be quick to put the song in the ever-expanding reggaeton file (and Anitta fans can embrace the allusions to Rio funk in the mix), Chuckie says that it’s the Dutch Caribbean house style called "bubbling," not reggaeton, that was the foundation for the “Machika” sound.

Bubbling was born in the late 1980s when DJ Moortje, a Netherlands-based DJ from Curacao, accidentally speeded up a dancehall track during a club set in The Hague. “The rhythms of Jamaica [including reggaeton instigator dembow] have been favorites in the Netherlands,” says Chuckie. “Bubbling changed the speed to almost double the tempo.”

The music made return trips from Holland’s clubs to the dance floors of the ABC Islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, picking up more Caribbean and house beats along the way. Chuckie is among the DJs and producers -- also including Afrojack and Diplo -- to use bubbling as a base for a new generation of global dance tracks.

“The sound of 'Machika' is the of sound of the evolution of bubbling,” Chuckie tells Billboard during a phone call from Aruba. “There’s such a rich history behind it. A lot of the grooves are sounds I was using back in the '90s. It’s kind of reinvented itself for this new generation of kids.”

Chuckie met Jeon (born Jonathan Thiel) in Aruba, where, after a conversation about dance music in Holland, they headed into the studio with ChildsPlay. They recorded “Machika” and another track, and Jeon played it for Balvin in New York. Songs by Jeon previously recorded in Aruba are in Papiamento, Aruba’s official language. “Machika” means “smash” or “mash” in Papiamento, which contains elements of Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, English, French and native South American and African dialects. While “Machika” is mostly in Spanish, it includes a few lyrics in the island language.

Chuckie, as well as Jeon and Balvin, has a writing credit on the track, which is currently at No. 14 on Hot Latin Songs. It’s also been rumored to be in the running to be used as a World Cup song (the flags in the video correspond to the nations who will participate in the international summer soccer tournament).

“I think it was a really good call to have different cultures represented in the song, which would appeal to a lot of different people and make it more of a worldwide song,” Chuckie says. “Now with the Internet, we’re all world citizens; [through music] we get to learn about other cultures and I think that’s beautiful.”

While Chuckie acknowledges that he never expected to have a song on the Billboard Latin charts, it seems safe to predict it won’t be the only one. He’s recently reconnected with Enrique Iglesias, for whom he remixed 2010’s “Tonight (I’m Lovin’ You,” and has been in touch with Ozuna and Nicky Jam.

“They know that whatever I’m going to send them sounds different,” Chuckie says. “It’s nice to have different flavors in a genre. That keeps it interesting for everyone.”

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