Currently comprised of founding members Ori Kaplan (saxophone), Tamir Muskat (production, percussion) and Tomer Yosef (vocals), the Tel Aviv, Israel-born, Brooklyn-based world, dance music trio Balkan Beat Box can trace its origins to Kaplan and Muskat meeting as teenagers in Brooklyn. As the story goes, both grew up immersed in music; Kaplan had been a klezmer clarinetists while Muskat was a drummer in a punk rock band — and the founding duo began collaborating together on a project, which would mesh the styles and sounds of Mediterranean and Balkan folk music with dub and thumping, club-banging hip-hop and dancehall beats. This is largely inspired by the fact that both Kaplan and Muskat had long felt that the traditional music they were long familiar with was a bit stodgy and outdated and didn’t adequately reflect the experiences of living in an increasingly globalized culture; however, fusing it traditional sounds with contemporary sounds was a way of bringing new relevance to old music, as well as a way of introducing old dance sounds to contemporary audiences. By 2006, Tomer Yosef was recruited as the group’s frontman and the lineup was completed.
And since their formation over a decade ago, the Brooklyn-based trio have maintained a long-held reputation not just for their wild genre mashing, deep digging in the crates grooves, but for a enormous club-banging beats paired with incendiary flows that call for riots and demonstrations in the streets and a for getting sweating on the dance floor — or perhaps suggesting that dance music and funk can fuel and inspire the next revolution. Interestingly throughout the course of five full-length albums, the trio have collaborated with a group of frequent and trusted collaborators and associates — and to add to a growing profile, the act has had their material sampled by Jason Derulo, Diplo, who used a sample for a Mac Miller song, had their music appear in FIFA ’17 and in Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping and have collaborated both as a unit and individually with platinum-ceritifed selling artist Asaf Avidan, Yemenite pop trio A-WA, Stargate and Fifth Harmony. But no matter what their work is rooted in a political urgency and authenticity; however, the band’s most recent effort Shout It Out finds the trio expanding upon their songwriting and creative process. As the members of the band explain in press notes when the members of the band gathered in the studio for the Shout It Out sessions, they played freely with collaborators for several days straight and then sampled what they felt was the best and boldest grooves, much like a DJ digging in the crates for the most interesting, weirdest material they could find. “A lot of weird things came out,” Kaplan exclaims in press notes. “We wold listen to jams and go ‘oh, here’s a moment, let’s sample it!” and they would build a track up from four bars or so.” And as Muskat explains of the material on the album “We are known to be that band to shout out things that bother us, but this time ew went inward and more personal. This album is us revealing who we are as people and what’s going on in our personal life.”
Shout It Out’s latest single “Chin Chin” has the trio pairing a slick, dance floor friendly production featuring looped klezmer-leaning, horn sample with stuttering drum programming, tweeter and woofer rattling 808 beats, distorted vocal samples and an enormous drop with Yosef rhyming about money — from the violent and desperate things people would do for it, the expensive and glittering possessions people buy with it. And in some way thematically and sonically, the song sounds as though it draws from M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” as it points out that money is what makes the world go around, while also reminding us that we live in a world in which people will sell themselves, their children, their children’s future’s for short term gain.
The recently released music video visually draws from crime movies like Snatch and Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and hip-hop videos, and as a result, it further evokes the swaggering, stomping groove of the song.