Archive for the ‘In The News’ Category

Ah, one of my fave topics.
The Music Of Africa, By Way Of Latin America By Felix Contreras

Joe Cuba did it with two words: “Bang Bang!” Or maybe he did it with the song’s chorus, which sings the praises of down-home soul food: “corn bread, hog mawl and chiterlin’s.”

Whatever it was, the combination of Afro-Cuban groove and R&B backbeat moved way beyond Joe Cuba’s home turf of El Barrio in Harlem to the rest of the country — and even back to the Caribbean.

It was called boogaloo, and it was an organic, cross-cultural musical reflection on how Afro-Latinos in this country have one foot in both cultures.

In the most simple definition of the term, Afro-Latinos are Dominican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Panamanian, Colombian, Venezuelan; descendants of people who are from anywhere that had Spanish slave owners and African slaves.

For starters, let’s travel down to New Orleans, which many in the 19th century considered the northern-most port of the Caribbean. Can you imagine the rich musical exchanges in those port-side bars among freed slaves, Caribbean sailors and other musical adventurers?

Trumpeter Irvin Mayfield and percussionist Bill Summers did. In fact, in 1998, they formed a band called Los Hombres Calientes to play jazz that reflected possibly the first blast of Afro-Latino culture in this country: a mix of African rhythms, Caribbean instrumentation and New Orleans funk.

For starters, let’s travel down to New Orleans, which many in the 19th century considered the northern-most port of the Caribbean. Can you imagine the rich musical exchanges in those port-side bars among freed slaves, Caribbean sailors and other musical adventurers?

Trumpeter Irvin Mayfield and percussionist Bill Summers did. In fact, in 1998, they formed a band called Los Hombres Calientes to play jazz that reflected possibly the first blast of Afro-Latino culture in this country: a mix of African rhythms, Caribbean instrumentation and New Orleans funk.

The latest expression of Afro-Latino culture is the best-selling song on iTunes this week.

It’s a reggaeton tune called “Virtual Diva,” and it’s by a young Afro-Latino who calls himself Don Omar.

Reggaeton was actually born among Afro-Latinos in Panama, made its way to the streets of San Juan and finally found arguably its most creative expression here in the U.S.

Even if you don’t understand the lyrics, you can hear the influence of hip-hop and rap, which have become the lingua franca of Afro-Latinos, African-Americans and just about anyone under the age of 25 in the rest of the world.


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I am not pleased. I would, if the flow were right, listen to Christian reggaeton. Ok, but I suppose the whole perreando thing wouldn’t fly.

Still, I will miss him greatly. I used to listen to Noche De Travesura every morning as I drove to work.

Hector el Father turns to El Father


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Ok, it doesn’t quite rhyme. But I like it, so it stays.

I like the term “apocalyptic reggaeton” to describe this variant of the genre. The sound is pretty aggressive with a lot of sonic references to horror movies, sci-fi movies and war. Gunfire, marching, sirens etc.. You know what I mean, Don Omar in his Mad Max outfit. Actually, thats a bit Post Apocalyptic. I’m thinking full on Urban Techno War Zone here.

I don’t watch tv much, or movies for that matter. But even I get the references and when I hear this, I see the cyborg armies and roaming band of warriors.

When I’m frustrated or angry  this is what I play. Headbanging reggaeton style.

So, here you go, in the interest of education, I post some of my favorite hard hitting super aggressive reggaeton mp3s.

Apocalypse Dembow

Don Omar, Tego Calderon , Wisin y Yandel- La Calle Me Llama

(A version of this is song 1 on my iPod and if I forget to select a playlist, my alarmclock plays this to wake me up in the mornings. I’d never paid much attention, but the lyrics are appropriate. “…quisiera quedarme, pero la calle me llama”.)

Franco “El Gorila”- Duro Mueven

Baby Rasta y Nengo Flow- Tirale

Dalmata- Nos Matamos

Arcangel- El Pistolon Remix

Brugal- Creo que Conmigo Jugaste

High Rollers Family- El Poder del Jefe

Manny Yow- Ella Se Acelera

Albert y Esquizo- Paramelo Ahi

How about some Q & A? You dont have to answer, of course, but I like to ponder such things.

What age and gender do you imagine the artists to be?

Nationality? Race? Income level?

What age, gender and nationality do they presume their audience to be?

Would my grandmother or a 5 year old from rural China respond to this like I do, or is the feel totally due to context? I can’t imagine anyone taking this to be HAPPY music, but does it sound inherently bellicose or do years of listening to sci-fi and horror soundtracks and watching Terminator movies train me to hear it that way?

Does my 12 year old daughter hear it like I do, or is it just a lot of random noise? I’m old enough that I hear/see Blade Runner, Gotham City and Dick Tracy. I suspect my young friends hear movies so new I cant even begin to name them!

I dont have the answers, but I like to ask the questions!! Why? Dunno.

Well, I wrote this post last week, but I read this morning about someone who made a physics rap song its huge on Youtube.”Rap and physics are culturally miles apart,” McAlpine, a science writer at CERN, wrote to the Lansing State Journal in an e-mail last week, “and I find it amusing to try and throw them together.”

And on one hand, I felt her 100%. Cute. On the other, I felt that there was sort of a cascade of meaning, if that makes any sense. If physics and rap are culturally far apart, does that not also imply that rappers and physicists are worlds apart? Does that also imply that rap fans and physicists are worlds apart? Is the humor, which stems from the juxtaposition of 2 concepts that seem to be polar opposites, a bit arrogant and racist?

I listen to reggaeton. I used to listen to rap. I am a female. I have a degree in Computer Science and I, while certainly no physicist, am rather science oriented. As is my architect, hiphop loving brother. And my pool playing “motherfucker” spouting engineer father. Perhaps one of us would find it intriguing to make a rap about architecture or engineering- computer or otherwise. But to fill a niche, to combine our interests, NOT to make it a Talking Dog sort of spectacle. You know- the content is forgettable, the delivery nothing special, but ITS A TALKING DOG? Thats FUNNY!!!

If it is funny because no one would ever think to combine rap and physics, because of the ABSURDITY of a rapper rapping about physics OR a physicists discussing his science in rap I sort of find it a tiny bit offensive. It um, it feels like blackface to me. And I don’t like it. If she hadn’t made that comment, I probably would be merely amused. “Look, someone likes rap and physics and combined the two”. But because she framed it as if the idea of the 2 things occuring together in nature were sooooo strange- meh. I dislike it. By extension, I hear her saying that I am strange and an anomaly. I dont like what that implies.

Mind you, I am looking for things to take offense at! Its what I do,so don’t go complaining that all I do is complain (unless that is what you do as well, and then really you should understand).

Well, now that I have found a way to post some free reggaeton mp3s to download and wonder about the cultural references and context of those songs AND complain about that news story and people in general, I’m content to end this post. Enjoy the music, unless you’re a namby pamby 80 year old pacifist woman.

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I first heard them on Triste y Vacia from the Tributo Urbano a Hector Lavoe cd.

Checkout their site-> www.TheDey.com

Its good to see people doing something different, not the same old same old bling, guns and sex songs that we always hear.

From the Chicago Extra News, a bilingual publication, Here Comes The Dey.

Divine added that their sound and lyrics are so distinct from other groups because they advocate unity, especially between male and female relationships…..

Through their music, The DEY spread a positive urban message.

“This is every day common positivity that we should be doing everyday,” Divine said.

The urban messages within their music also help communication between different social groups.

“A corporate person can understand [a lot of our songs, which are coming] from an urban youth,” Divine said.

“Bendicida Mi Nacion” is a modern, shout-out to the people of Puerto Rico, the island and culture. Yeyo said that the “orgullo de Puerto Rico vive en todos nostotros (Puerto Rican pride lives in all of us).”

“I’d like to say that the common theme of our music is love and at the end of the day, we want people to feel good,” Yeyo said.

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O’Farrill Seeks Converts to Father’s Afro-Cuban Music

“For Chico O’Farrill, who focused on composing and orchestration as a bandleader instead of forging a solo career, the broad name recognition won by peers like Parker, Gillespie and John Coltrane, proved elusive.

“My father didn’t quite get his due,” Arturo O’Farrill said. “I always felt he was one of the great composers of the genre, not just in Latin jazz. His commercial success wasn’t quite what it should have been.”

Arturo O’Farrill took over the Afro-Cuban Orchestra from his father in 1995. He thought the band’s visibility problem had come to an end when Wynton Marsalis, artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, offered the group concert dates and a promotional boost.”

John McCain courting Daddy Yankee?

I’ve heard it all now!

“… Saturday, after returning to Washington, he huddled with a most unexpected celebrity: Latin pop king and reggaeton star Daddy Yankee, whose songs (which at times can be raunchy) have topped the music charts.”

Chicago Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble

Caribbean music and jazz have had close connections from the beginning of the last century. Composers and soloists from Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington to Chick Corea have been inspired by Juan Tizol, Chano Pozo and Mongo Santamaria. Gillespie widened the scope in the 90s with his United Nations Orchestra and in Chicago, the Chicago Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble (CALJE) continues the multinational quest by incorporating Afro-Cuban Jazz, Brazilian Jazz, Flamenco, Central American and Peruvian folkloric rhythms into their compositions while staying true to Latin Jazz traditions. The CAJE was founded by Mexican born trumpeter/composer, Victor Garcia and Nicaraguan born pianist/composer, Darwin Alejandro Noguera.

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Seems there has been a discovery of tons of old ,unreleased classic salsa tracks. But WIllie Colon doesn’t want his art blemished by inferior tracks. I am a salsa fan, I want to hear it all. But I am also an artist and I believe an artist has the right to choose which of his works to publish or include in a collection.

I may take 100 pictures to get 5 good ones for an album, I dont want the deleted photos discovered and included in my album. If I have 3 drawings of my kids that look great, I don’t want someone ruining it by adding a bad one, or a good one but of fruit or my dogs or something.

From the article-

“Colón threatened to go to court if Emusica published any new “Siembra” material, but the reaction to the story made him change his mind.

“Because of an outpouring of e-mails and blog posts of outraged fans, I am changing my position on the unpublished ‘Siembra’ tapes,” Colón says. “I will withdraw my objection to the publishing of these outtakes and leave the final decision to Rubén Blades and Emusica.”

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Because, los Amigos De Obama decided that what we really really need is a Reggaeton campaign jingle.
I confess, one of the fun things about elections in Puerto Rico is the huge trucks with huge speakers blasting all sorts of catchy salsa and reggaeton. Who cares that its about the candidates, it sounds good and EVERYONE loves a good parade.

Anyway, enjoy.
Amigos de Obama

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