Interviews

DJ Happy Colors Used His Dominican Influence to Invent Bachata Trap

"Cuango cago yo, la pinga mia toca el agua." Translation: "When I shit, my dick touches the water." This poetic musing is not a comment on a Pornhub video — it’s the title of a track by Sony Latino’s latest addition, Miami’s Bachata Trap king: DJ Happy Colors.

Hector Mendoza, as he is known outside of the DJ booth, wasn’t always throwing clubs into frenzied seizures. He grew up in Santo Domingo listening to merengue artists like Tulile, Toño Rosario, and Alibanda. One listen to Tulile’s “Cuca” is enough to understand where Mendoza gets his energy.

“I’m Dominican. I’m from an island. We’re always energetic,” says Mendoza. “I always wanted to be in a merengue band when I was little, so since it didn’t happen, now I’m like a merengue computer producer.”

Mendoza's sound is uniquely Miami: a mixture of electronic house, moombahton, merengue, and bachata, all culminating into what Diplo has called “bachata trap.” It’s energetic, electrifying, and grotesquely consuming in a way only a Miami boy could do.

For the 22-year-old DJ reinventing modern Latino music, it comes easy — nothing but bass and beats. He started rapping at 15, but it’s only been four years since he started producing. In those four years, he sent his music to Diplo, found a fan base, signed to Mad Decent, and left Broward for more concrete pastures: Miami’s trendy Brickell.

“Nigga, we made it,” affirms Mendoza.
Just yesterday, he premiered a remix of Celia Cruz’s “Virgencita.” In honor of the Cuban queen’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys this weekend, Fania Records and Calentura collaborated with DJ Happy to bring her timeless power to a new generation.
Mendoza’s take on the classic is unlike his other work. Where Mendoza normally embellishes, overriding any vocals on the track, here he stays in the background, slowly building on the natural bass of Cruz’s bombastic voice. He’s showing respect, and we appreciate that.

“I would love to collaborate with all the merengue artists I grew up listening to before they die,” says Mendoza. “That would be a dream come true.”

Mendoza also pays tribute to abuelita favorite Caso Cerrado, Telemundo’s people’s court show. He opens “Cuando Cago” with audio from an episode in which a wife is in distress over her husband’s gargantuan penis. The dialogue is just as absurd as Mendoza’s lyrics, which might offend some listeners, but the feverish electronic buildup forces you to say “fuck it” and twerk. Just like Caso Cerrado's honorable Ana María Polo determined, “Life is meant to be enjoyed, not suffered.” 
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Alexandra Martinez is an arts and culture writer based in Miami. She graduated from Columbia University in 2014 with a bachelor's in film studies. Find her at alexandra-martinez.net.