The Long Legacy Of Latin Music Influencing Hip-Hop Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Garcia of NPR's 'What's Good' podcast break down how hip-hop has borrowed from Latin music many times over the years.
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The Long Legacy Of Latin Music Influencing Hip-Hop

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The Long Legacy Of Latin Music Influencing Hip-Hop

The Long Legacy Of Latin Music Influencing Hip-Hop

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Newsflash - Drake has been dethroned.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IN MY FEELINGS")

DRAKE: (Singing) Kiki, do you love me? Are you riding? Say you'll never ever leave from beside me.

CORNISH: His inescapable song "In My Feelings" has dropped to No. 2, replaced on Billboard's top songs chart by Maroon 5 and Cardi B's "Girls Like You." DJs Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Garcia are hosts of the NPR podcast What's Good with Stretch & Bobbito. We knew they would have thoughts. Hey, guys, what's good?

STRETCH ARMSTRONG, BYLINE: Hey, Audie.

BOBBITO GARCIA, BYLINE: What's happening?

(LAUGHTER)

CORNISH: That's your response to Drake, "In My Feelings." That's where you are. So I guess there's no viral video of you doing the dance, the Kiki dance.

GARCIA: No, we're not in our feelings about the song.

CORNISH: Oh, no.

ARMSTRONG: That is a record I wish I could break.

CORNISH: So clearly they did not want to talk about Drake or his song, so, you know, bye-bye, Drake. Instead, Cardi B was on their minds and her other song that's been in the top 10 for some time now, "I Like It."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I LIKE IT")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS #1: (Singing) I like it like that.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: You got to believe me when I tell you.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS #1: (Singing) I said I like it like that.

CARDI B: (Rapping) Now, I like dollars. I like diamonds. I like stunting. I like shining.

CORNISH: All right, let's talk about this sample because it's a great song, but the sample does a lot of work for this song.

GARCIA: Sure. She's interpreting the Pete Rodriguez anthem for boogaloo music from the '60s called "I Like It Like That."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I LIKE IT LIKE THAT")

PETE RODRIGUEZ: (Singing) Yeah, baby.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS #2: (Singing) I like it like that.

GARCIA: That was a great moment in New York, particularly Nuyorican history, whereby rhythm and blues of the African-American community was bridged with the Latin roots of the boricua, the Afro-Dominican community and kind of birthed this movement called boogaloo which only lasted maybe six, seven years.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I LIKE IT LIKE THAT")

RODRIGUEZ: (Singing) Baby, look at me.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS #2: (Singing) I like it like that.

RODRIGUEZ: (Singing) Yeah.

ARMSTRONG: That's a song that was probably one of the first boogaloo records I had ever heard. I immediately needed to know what that record was. And I started playing it in my sets, which were 99 percent not Latin music.

(LAUGHTER)

GARCIA: Until he met me.

ARMSTRONG: But...

(LAUGHTER)

ARMSTRONG: But the song is instantly magnetic.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I LIKE IT LIKE THAT")

RODRIGUEZ: (Singing) Before I go, I want to say...

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS #2: (Singing) I like it like that.

ARMSTRONG: There have been a number of hip-hop artists that have sourced Latin music over the years. But I think the first ever would be Boogie Down Productions' use of a Tito Puente record for the remix of the massive, anthemic "I'm Still #1."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'M STILL #1")

BOOGIE DOWN PRODUCTIONS: (Rapping) B-Boy records you just can't crush. Making funky music is a must. I'm number one, one, one, one, one, one, one, one, one, one, one, one, one, one, one, one, one.

GARCIA: (Laughter).

ARMSTRONG: That was pretty revolutionary at the time.

CORNISH: It feels revolutionary right now.

GARCIA: One of the producers on that BDP record was Ivan Doc Rodriguez, who was Nuyorican - you know, parents born in Puerto Rico and raised here in the city. DJ Doc had a huge influence on BDP, was their tour DJ. He helped out with production as well.

ARMSTRONG: Engineer as well...

GARCIA: Right.

ARMSTRONG: ...Shaping the sonic quality of Boogie Down Productions on their records...

GARCIA: Well, and then...

ARMSTRONG: ...And many others.

GARCIA: Right. And BDP wound up becoming a template for production style and engineering and mastering. Even so, huge record. And Tito Puente, if you don't know, is the Latin artist of all time. I mean, he recorded over a hundred albums. And Tito became a global hero way beyond Latin music, way beyond on Afro-Cuban music, way beyond mambo music.

ARMSTRONG: Did you say over a hundred albums?

GARCIA: Tito Puente recorded over a hundred albums.

ARMSTRONG: You know what you call that?

GARCIA: What?

ARMSTRONG: Trabajo.

(LAUGHTER)

CORNISH: It's nice setup. I like the setup on that.

(LAUGHTER)

CORNISH: So does this - is this something thing that moves in phases, kind of hip-hop reaching to this, you know, section of albums for samples?

ARMSTRONG: Hip-hop is always moving in sort of trendy directions, right? I mean, if you listen to the Billboard top 10 pop - you know, I haven't done a detailed analysis, but the BPMs...

GARCIA: Beats per minute.

ARMSTRONG: ...The tempo - most of these songs on the top 10 are in a pretty narrow range of tempo. They kind of all either are trap records or are related somehow to trap music, which of course is a version of Southern hip-hop which has very slow beats. The Cardi record is trapish. Her producer was able to take this boogaloo record and make it fit into a trap beat because the original song, "I Like It Like That" by Pete Rodriguez, is something like 180 beats per minute. If you cut that in half, that would be - what? - 90 beats per minute. I'm not sure exactly what the tempo of the Cardi B record is, but it fits into that time structure.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I LIKE IT")

CARDI B: (Rapping) Oh, he's so handsome. What's his name?

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS #1: (Singing) I said I like it.

CARDI B: (Singing) Oh, I...

ARMSTRONG: This is a little bit music nerdy, but...

CORNISH: It is - I'm so into it. First of all, you've just identified everything from Maroon 5 to Cardi B as roughly in the same beat range. But two, also fascinating hearing how something like boogaloo music could, like, come back in this way - right? - and just kind of fit right into this moment.

ARMSTRONG: Well, I think the beautiful thing about hip-hop has always been how it references old music. And if you're curious, you discover this world of music that you would ordinarily perhaps not have gotten into.

GARCIA: Let me also add that it's certainly not a trendy thing for Latin influence to be part of hip-hop music, hip-hop culture. Cypress Hill...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "INSANE IN THE MEMBRANE")

CYPRESS HILL: Don't you know I'm loco?

GARCIA: ...Big Pun...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "100%")

BIG PUN: (Rapping) I'm the Don Juan beside the Don. Live long.

GARCIA: ...And Cardi B is just part of a long legacy of Latinos drawing from their own experiences and infusing them into current rap.

CORNISH: That's Bobbito Garcia - thank you so much...

GARCIA: Oh, (speaking Spanish).

CORNISH: ...And Stretch Armstrong. Check out their podcast. It's called What's Good with Stretch & Bobbito. Thanks, guys.

ARMSTRONG: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "100%")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS #3: (Singing in Spanish).

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