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PAM Rewind: De Schuurman's world in 10 tracks
De Schuurman © Dasilvio P. Bizenga, courtesy of ElectrAfrique

PAM Rewind: De Schuurman's world in 10 tracks

Every month Cortega picks a DJ or producer who puts Africa and its diaspora in the spotlight. Featuring an exclusive playlist of the 10 sounds that have shaped his musical universe. Today we start with Dutch producer and DJ De Schuurman.

Born and raised in The Hague, Guilermo Schurman grew up steeped in his family’s Surinamese culture. He started music production as a teenager, when he met a guy called Rishi, who introduced him to bubbling – a high-energy sound pioneered by DJ Moortje and friends from the Antilles’ diaspora, which brings dancehall vibes into the speed and structure of house music. In his own words, “bubbling is a Caribbean secret weapon. It first resonated in the streets and slowly became noticed internationally – it’s a way to put people from Suriname and Curaçao on the map.” Guilermo got his stage name, De Schuurman, which means the Grind-man, from the moves on the dancefloor whenever his music drops (laugh). This initial bubbling phase was followed by a deep dive into trap music, which he explored under the Godfulleffect moniker, a musical universe made of soft orchestral melodies laid on a fierce yet much slower beats, switching gears from his earlier, more frenetic sounding work. With Nyege Nyege’s support, he is now bringing bubbling back to the fore, setting dancefloors across Europe – and most recently Senegal – on fire, collecting well-deserved accolades along the way, including a feature as Bandcamp’s Best Club Music of 2021.

Cameo – Candy

(laughs even before the song starts). This is probably the song that brings me back the furthest into the past. It takes me way back to when I was maybe four years old. I used to hear it on the radio, my mom and cousins used to listen to it, and I can still visualize us vibing to this song. It channels happy moments of growing up as a kid when it was all bliss and innocence.

Aptijt – Boeke

Aptijt is a band from Paramaribo. They traditional Surinamese dance music with typical drums and all, and yet, they still got played in most Dutch clubs back in the day. People would wait for this track in the clubs and say “aaaaah, the party is lit now” when it dropped! It’s funny because as soon as you’d hear the first bars, all the guys would be running around searching for the right girl to dance with… The song talks about a kind of a super hot dance from Suriname, similar to Jamaican daggering. It’s like you bump and grind (laughs). Clubbing in the Netherlands was so much fun back then. My friends and I used to go out when the vibe was right. For example, there was this Bubbling Beats party at Rotterdam’s Hollywood Music Hall, that we used to always go to. I think nowadays, clubbing lost some of its fun. It’s often just about a DJ dropping heavy beats and people zoning out on their own… It’s not as happy or social as it used to be.

Drake – Buried Life Interlude (feat. Kendrick Lamar)

Complete change of vibe. This song is laidback, but super ambient, with a structure that differs from standard hip-hop. It’s super original and manages to create a whole atmosphere, which is something I try to achieve in my own production. And the way Kendrick raps is dope… it’s like a twisted, dark but pleasurable state of mind. I also like that it’s a Drake song but you don’t hear him at all. It’s only Kendrick on the mic, talking about hanging with big players in the game, and how this was an initiation. It means a lot to me because it resonates with my life and experiences. I have played this song often on days where I was wondering if I am doing the right thing, trying to understand and reflect on my next moves.

Drake – 7am on Bridal Path

This song is a perfect reflection of things I have been through the last two years. His rap is deep but the beat is so chill. It’s ultra vibey, and it resonates like a soundtrack for me, it enhances what I visualize in my imagination. It’s cinematic. My friends and I played this song on loop over our recent trip to Crete, which essentially was the first time I was able to travel this far with my crew, on the strength of my music. It was a real milestone for me, and this song was with us on the plane, and everywhere we went during the journey. As I look back, this was the first time that one of my biggest dreams was coming through in real life! I could live it. I could feel it. So whenever I hear this song, it’s inevitably connected with dreams becoming possible. Beautiful.

Drake – Fair Trade

As a beatmaker, the first thing I listen to in a song is the beat. And this is true here, but beyond this, it’s the lyrics that take me on here. You know, before I signed with Nyege Nyege [a Uganda-based collective promoting electronic music through festivals and record label], I lost many close friends. We just, we fell out. Many of them were not a good influence on me, and over time things got cut off between us, in part also because of mistakes I made. But I think this was for the better actually. It’s like this song says, “I been losin’ friends and findin’ peace… But honestly, that sound like a fair trade to me”. This was a transition year for me, a time when my social environment was cleansing around me. I moved on, I started skateboarding again and I am now surrounded with great guys, like my bros 13bringsgoodluck and Locks Vegas. Them and me we been dreaming about doing big things for years, and they are starting to happen now and it’s so ill!!!

Bruce Faulconer – Palace In The Clouds

This is drawn from the Dragon Ball Z score. The whole anime series is super important to me, because its message is deep. It shows you how to stay true to yourself, how to be a good person. Goku [ndlr. the main character] is dangerous because he is tough, but at the same time he is innocent. He is super strong, yet he never tries to harm anyone. He’s got a heart of gold. People focus on the fights and the action, but in the end, this is the deeper message of the anime. When I hear this song, I envision myself gaining more energy. It’s super meditative, it helps me channel my strength.

De Schuurman – Nu Ga Jen Dansen

I did this song like 10 years ago and it really blew up like crazy back then. It’s by far my most successful bubbling track, even before it came out on the Nyege Nyege Tapes label. I got paid to have it featured in the Burberry Fashion Week Runway Show, for example. It was so sick, man. There were DJs playing it on Boiler Room and all. It was dope. The song says “No, You Are Gonna Dance” in a demanding manner… like I’m not asking, you are gonna dance, it’s gotta happen (laughs). For me, this song embodies the fact that’s it’s possible to break through with music that isn’t too complex or too mainstream… I was just a young kid, I didn’t know how to properly mix and master, and yet, the track still blew up. It’s all about the music, letting it speak for itself. If the audience digs it, you’re good. Me, I don’t make music for other producers. I make it for the listeners, who couldn’t care less about the technical side.

Kanye West – God Breathed

This captures a lot of things I believe, and how I interact with others. How I strive to be good, you know? I don’t judge what people wear and how they look, none of this matters to me. Instead, I connect with anyone. It’s definitely not how popular musicians behave in the Netherlands. But I have chosen a different path, trying to be grounded and organic like that. I know simplicity is the right way. In fact, I always had it in me to share good vibes with everyone. Over the years, I prayed and meditated about what I want in life. Everything you do and say is a prayer, so you have to be conscious about what you think and say. A strong mind is powerful, when you stay true to yourself. The concept and the lyrics behind this song capture that vibe powerfully. And of course I also dig the beat … In fact it’s probably like 55% reason why I dig this track (laughs).

UnoTheActivist – Wake Up

I’ve long been deep into trap, and this song talks about being anything you want if you set your mind to it. But it’s a special kind of trap they call jug. In short, jug means like “finessing or stealing away in a stealth manner”. In these songs, they always talk about big deals, heists and all. It’s got a certain feel to it, and somehow, I always thought they go super well with skateboarding videos. Like when you land a dope trick, it just fits perfectly. And again, the song repeats that you should “be you”. I started listening to this right when I had been cleansing my relationships and doing just me. Not caring what others thought. I think it’s beautiful that he lays such lyrics on this type of beat, because it’s not classic jug. Uno is changing the code, and he reminds me to stick to the mission: keep praying and focusing on myself.

Playboi Carti – One Day (inédit)

Here on this song, the general vibe is more important to me than the actual lyrics. Even though I like the topic, you know “I’m get it one day”. That’s exactly the kind of song I put on when I get up, ready to go skating outside. This beat sounds happy to me and the whole vibe is so up!!! I just feel ready for the day… I mean listen to this: “early morning Sunday” (laughs hard). The cadence and flow and how much steez (ndlr. style and ease) they put into it. Another reason I dig it, is that Carti doesn’t write his lyrics. He just hears the beat in the booth and he goes off. It’s pure improvisation. It sounds easy but it’s super  hard to do. Like when me and my friends freestyle and we kill it, we get too excited we can’t really sustain the effort (laughs again). Carti’s words may not always be logical but he’s super creative. And creativity isn’t not always logical, it can be abstract, like it’s not about what you see, but more about what you feel when you see it. The words don’t necessarily mean what they mean. You feel me?

© courtesy of De Schuurman