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Alt.Latino: Addressing The Cultural Divide Through Music
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Alt.Latino: Addressing The Cultural Divide Through Music

Fractured Culture


And here at NPR, we're taking advantage of the fractured media with a project called Alt.Latino. It's a blog and a podcast hosted by Jasmine Garsd and Felix Contreras. Like many people, they're using the Internet to create a place for music they aren't hearing on the radio. And they tell us what they mean by Latin alternative music.

JASMINE GARSD: It's not what your parents and grandparents listened to. It's not pure salsa. It's not pure merengue. It's not pure rock.

FELIX CONTRERAS: It's a mishmash of everything else - rock, hip-hop, electronica. Here are three little short blasts of what could be considered Latin alternative music.

(Soundbite of music)

BEBE (Singer): (Singing in foreign language)

CAIFANES (Band): (Singing in foreign language)

CHOC QUIB TOWN (Band): (Singing in foreign language)

GARSD: So we started off with a Spanish artist called Bebe. We heard the Mexican rock en Espanol pioneers Caifanes and, finally, Choc Quib Town.

CONTRERAS: The messages within the song are just like every other genre.

GARSD: You know, like, I hate my 9:00 to 5:00 job. I want to break up with my girlfriend.

CONTRERAS: I want to find a girlfriend.

GARSD: You know, if you turn on your primetime television, if there is a conversation about Latinos, it's likely going to be about Latinos as a problem. And a lot of times, it's a conversation in which Latinos aren't even participating. As the show progresses, we more and more feel this sense of presenting songs that discuss the Latino experience from a Latino perspective.

CONTRERAS: And almost always those messages are delivered in Spanish, and that brings us to another factor that can separate cultures that we address in our show - language. We try to go over the lyrics of what the bands are singing. Once people come to the music and they hear it and once they find a place for themselves in the music, then it becomes a lot more accessible, and it's just - it's something that binds people together as opposed to dividing us.

GARSD: I think we should close this segment out with a song called "Compartir" or "To Share" by Carla Morrison, a young artist from Mexico.

(Soundbite of song, "Compartir")

CONTRERAS: You know, her music is an example of the interaction of cultures and musical styles. I mean, if she sang in English, her music would be right at home on any number of English language radio playlist.

GARSD: Okay, not all, just the cool ones, like us.

CONTRERAS: There you go.

GARSD: I'm Jasmine Garsd.

CONTRERAS: And I'm Felix Contreras. Please check us out on Alt.Latino.

(Soundbite of song, "Compartir")

Ms. CARLA MORRISON (Singer): (Singing in foreign language)

NORRIS: Alt.Latino, the blog and podcast, is part of our website,

(Soundbite of song, "Compartir")

Ms. MORRISON: (Singing in foreign language)

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