Alt.Latino's Best Music Of The Year (So Far): Rubén Blades, Angélique And Cuco : Alt.Latino Six months into 2019, we highlight dream pop, electronic fantasies, West African Cuban music and Latin rock from a salsa icon.

Alt.Latino's Best Music Of 2019 (So Far)

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/736326853/736965011" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

FELIX CONTRERAS, HOST:

From NPR Music, this is ALT.LATINO. I'm Felix Contreras. We're in June, halfway, mid-year, almost there. However you want to describe it, we're six months into the year, and it's time to look back at the best of the year so far. And to do that, I brought in some help. With us on the line all the way from Berlin is Julyssa Lopez. Julyssa is a freelance writer based in Berlin. Julyssa, welcome.

JULYSSA LOPEZ, BYLINE: Thank you for having me, Felix.

CONTRERAS: OK. In our ALT.LATINO New York City bureau, Isabelia Herrera, former Remezcla music editor, now freelance journalist. Isabelia, welcome back to ALT.LATINO.

ISABELIA HERRERA: Thank you for having me again, Felix.

CONTRERAS: And with us in the studio here in D.C. is Stefanie Fernández, our contributor here in D.C. and producer at The Atlantic. Stefanie, welcome back.

STEFANIE FERNÁNDEZ, BYLINE: Thank you, Felix.

CONTRERAS: OK. So we're going to get started. We have a lot of music to go over. You traveled the furthest, Julyssa, so you get the first shot. What is this first song we want to hear?

LOPEZ: I brought Girl Ultra featuring Cuco, and this is called "DameLove."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DAMELOVE")

GIRL ULTRA: (Singing) I won't tell you twice, amor. Feelings always come and go. Si lo tienes dame love, dame love. I won't tell you twice, amor. Feelings always come and go. Si lo tienes, dame love, dame love. There's something about you, something. There's something. There's something about you, something. There's something.

CUCO: (Singing) Esperando tanto tiempo para ser más que amigos, no miento. Sentado en la sala contigo, buscando el momento preciso. Cerca pero tan lejos, ya quiero más a tu cuerpo. Tu cara contra mi pecho, el humo flotando densos.

LOPEZ: I really, really like this song, and I think it's such a good sort of hazy summer song. And I was really excited about the partnership between these two. Cuco is someone I think of as being so firmly rooted in the indie scene and making this sort of lethargic dream pop. And then there is Girl Ultra, whose real name is Mariana de Miguel, from Mexico City. And she does breezy R&B. And I wouldn't have thought of putting the two of them together, but it worked so beautifully on this. And it kind of brings out a laid-back coolness that oozes all over the track here.

CONTRERAS: Julyssa, Cuco continues to be having a moment, but this is a Girl Ultra track. Talk to us a little bit about this collaboration.

LOPEZ: Yeah, he is. He's a kid who started playing backyard shows when he was 18, and now he's been signed to Interscope and he is preparing to drop his big debut later this year. And sonically, he's just grown so much and his sound has matured. And Girl Ultra is really exciting, too. She - I interviewed her, I think, last year, when she'd just released her second EP, "Adiós." And now she's also preparing to drop a new album called "Nuevos Aires." And so it's just really cool to see both of these artists growing and collaborating and trying new things, and especially doing it together.

HERRERA: I also think it's different for Mariana, too, for Girl Ultra. I mean, she doesn't really ever sing in English. So to have this, like, bilingual collab happening, I think, is really cool. And it's seamless, even though you wouldn't have expected it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DAMELOVE")

GIRL ULTRA: (Singing) Si lo tienes, dame love, dame love. There's something about you, something. There's something. There's something about you, something. There's something. (Vocalizing).

CUCO: Again.

GIRL ULTRA: (Vocalizing).

CUCO: (Singing) Yeah.

GIRL ULTRA: So, yeah, you should come through. Like, I'm in the mood for some Jack in the Box, podemos fumar, or maybe we could, like, watch "The Simpsons" or whatever. "The Simpsons" or whatever.

CONTRERAS: OK, Isabelia, you're next for this from D.C. What did you bring?

HERRERA: I'm going to kick it off with KAINA's "Green." She's from Chicago, and this is off her upcoming debut album.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GREEN")

KAINA: (Singing) Sky could be blue as can be. Grass could be green, green, too. My love is same as them. They're facts. It's true. It's true. Sky could be blue as can be. Grass could be green, green, too. My love the same as them. They're facts. It's true. It's true. When I leave someday, my hands will hold with yours. And every piece of me lives in the sand, in the air, oh, with you. It's true. It's true. I've been through so many moons. You've seen them, too. Doubting is hard to undo. But know me...

CONTRERAS: What's fascinating to me with some of these newer artists these days is the dedication to R&B - like, old-school R&B. This sort of reminds me of, like, a late '70s track.

HERRERA: Yeah, it's actually - I knew that you were going to bring that up because it's - when - she told me that when she was listening to - or when she was thinking about making this song, she was listening to "Siembra," the album by Willie Colón and Rubén Blades.

CONTRERAS: Wow.

HERRERA: And, you know, that - the opening track, "Plástico," it's kind of like a disco funk song that goes into salsa with some R&B vibes. And to me, this is, like, exactly what that is but just, like, updated for 2019. And I thought, it's just, like, so - to me, it - like, it honors so much of, like, Chicago R&B, what's happening right now in the city, but then also kind of, like, calling back to her roots. She's Venezuelan and Guatemalan. And so, like, this kind of, like, honoring of, like, a generational salsa moment and then, like, what's happening here in Chicago now - it's really cool.

CONTRERAS: And I'm so predictable.

(LAUGHTER)

HERRERA: It's good. I knew you would like it. That's all.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GREEN")

KAINA: (Singing) I've been through so many moons. I've been through so many moons. Sky could be blue as can be. Grass could be green, green, too. My love the same as them. They're facts. It's true. It's true. Sky could be blue as can be. Grass could be green, green, too. My love the same as them. They're facts. It's true. It's true.

CONTRERAS: "Green" from KAINA, as we take a look at the best of the year so far here on ALT.LATINO. That track, maybe because it says - it's green in the title, but it did remind me of this track "Grazing In The Grass" from the '70s. Hugh Masekela did something with it.

HERRERA: Yeah.

CONTRERAS: And it was, like, an R&B hit from years ago, many years ago when I was just a young'un. So we're going to move on. OK, Stefanie. You're here. What's up?

FERNÁNDEZ: One of my favorites of the year is "Memorias Caramelas" by La Doña and Cotó.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MEMORIAS CARAMELAS")

COTÓ: (Rapping) Oye.

LA DOÑA: (Singing) Así es papá, así te canto.

COTÓ: (Rapping) Que se formó la rumba, Doña.

LA DOÑA: (Singing) La Doña, con Tadito (ph), mi canción para ti. Memorias caramelas.

COTÓ: (Rapping) Eh, eh.

LA DOÑA: (Singing) Qué sabrosura. Memorias caramelas.

COTÓ: (Rapping) Dame, sí, sí.

LA DOÑA: (Singing) Ahogan mi mente con maldito amor. Te quiero. Memorias caramelas. Con dolor de muela y de corazón. Me duele. Ya no recuerdo tu rostro.

COTÓ: (Rapping) No lo recuerdo, no.

LA DOÑA: (Singing) Solo tus dientes en mi ardiente piel. Muerde, papá. No reconozco tu sombra.

COTÓ: (Rapping) Ya no recuerdo, nada.

LA DOÑA: (Singing) No más tu boca sabor a miel. Pero qué sabrosura.

FERNÁNDEZ: So, La Doña is Cecilia Peña-Govea, a Chicana singer from San Francisco. And this is her third release ever. And in all three of the songs that she's released so far independently, I've just been blown away by how catchy and breezy and - the songs are and how much they blend traditional Latin musics and folk musics with pop, urbano and reggaeton. So she actually grew up playing in her family's conjunto when she was little, playing the trumpet and singing, in San Francisco. And now she's an independent artist. This song in particular stood out to me because of the collaboration with Juan Cotó, who's a Grammy-nominated tresero - the Cuban tres, the three-stringed...

CONTRERAS: Guitar, yeah.

FERNÁNDEZ: ...Small guitar instrument that is very dear to my heart. And the combination of cumbia and Cuban son in this song with reggaeton backbeat, of course, is just so infectious. And the song is a perfect early summer romantic longing ballad.

CONTRERAS: And all of those musics have nothing to do with Mexican conjunto.

FERNÁNDEZ: No, yeah (laughter).

CONTRERAS: That's pretty funny. That's interesting.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MEMORIAS CARAMELAS")

LA DOÑA: (Singing) Pero cómo te amo. Memorias caramelas. Ay, papi, qué sabrosura. Dolor de muela y de corazón. Pero como me duele. Ya no recuerdo tu rostro. Qué sabrosura. Solo tus dientes en mi ardiente piel. No reconozco tus ojos. Déjame (inaudible). No más tu boca sabor a miel. Mi (inaudible) Que va, que va, te quiero papá, que va, que va, que no aguanto más. Que va, que va, te quiero papá. Que va, que va, que no aguanto más. Que va, que va, te quiero, papá. Que va, que va, que no aguanto más. Que va, que va, te quiero papá. Que va, que va, que no aguanto más. Que va, que va, te quiero papá, que va, que va, que no aguanto más. Que va, que va, te quiero papá. Que va, que va, que no aguanto más. Que va, que va, te quiero papá. Que va, que va, que no aguanto más. Que va, que va, te quiero papá. Que va, que va, que no aguanto más.

CONTRERAS: Very catchy. "Memorias Caramelas" from La Doña - that's Stefanie's pick looking back at the best of the year so far. Whose turn is it? It's my turn. Sorry (laughter). I'm going to go with this song that was released by both Making Movies and Rubén Blades. I'm going to be the older guy in the room...

(LAUGHTER)

CONTRERAS: ...And only because it marks a really significant possible turning point for Rubén Blades. There's an indication that he may want to move away slightly from salsa and explore other stuff. He just turned 70. So he's looking at the next phase, which is good for us. He did this record with a young band, Making Movies, and it's more of a rock feel. And I think it's something to keep an eye on as he starts doing other things in other types of music. So this is "No Te Calles" from Making Movies and Rubén Blades.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NO TE CALLES")

RUBÉN BLADES AND MAKING MOVIES: (Singing) Entré a la oscuridad buscando una verdad. Que no debe morir. Ayúdala a salir. Respira, respira. Detrás de una traición sin justificación. Se muere la nación. No hay heroes que aplaudir, ni huellas que seguir. Ay, no te calles, sal a la calle y no te calles. Sal a la calle y no te calles. Sal a la calle y no te calles. Sal a la calle. Pregúntate por qué perdiste toda fe. Tu amor, ¿adónde fue? Te canceló el carnet. Sal a la calle y no te calles. Sal a la calle y no te calles. Sal a la calle y no te calles. La corrupción ataca, ahoga con su trampa, político ladrón, que destruye la nación. Sal a la calle y no te calles. Sal a la calle y no te calles. La corrupción ataca, ahoga con su trampa. Político ladrón que destruye a la nación. Sal a la calle y no te calles. Respira. El silencio oculta la verdad, como el odio nuestra humanidad. El gran error queda atrás, llena tus pulmones, respira y no te calles.

CONTRERAS: That was my pick. That was Rubén Blades with Making Movies, "No Te Calles." We can move on to the next track. Let's see. Whose turn is it? It's Julyssa. What do you got?

LOPEZ: Yeah, so this next one is iLe, and it's called "Tu Rumba." And it's from her second album that she just released called "Almadura," which is a play on the word armadura, which means armor. But in Puerto Rico, you know, when you pronounce the R, you kind of drop it into an L a little bit, and so it turns into Almadura, which means, like, strong soul. You know, it's a title that references a lot of what's been happening in Puerto Rico and the resilience of the island in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TU RUMBA")

ILE: (Singing) Yo no sé si el rabito de tus ojos, que está buscando encontrarse con los míos, pero siento que hay un algo tuyo que me llama, entre medio de tanto gentío. Yo no sé si tu silencio me está hablando. Yo no sé si nos habremos conocido, o si es mi locura que anda delirando, y que al final soy solo yo que lo imagino. Hermosura que sale de ti. Va flotando hasta llegar a mí. No sé si tu rumba vaya con mi mambo, pero tu tienes lo que estoy necesitando. No sé si tu rumba vaya con mi mambo, pero tienes lo que estoy necesitando.

CONTRERAS: Having listened to iLe's entire album, it's such an amazing record.

LOPEZ: It really is. I really, really like this one. You know, when she dropped her debut, I think we kind of saw that, you know, she went from kind of being a part-time member of Calle 13 with her brothers to going off and doing her own thing as a solo act and revealing that she had this really amazing talent for taking traditional rhythms and riffing off of old-school sounds. And I just wrote about this album for The Nation, and I got to really sink my teeth into it. I loved how she's kind of taken that tradition and those old-school sounds on this and applied it to messages that are all about Puerto Rican strength and identity and resistance during such a hard time.

I love this song because it's - she's playing with Puerto Rican bomba, which is a rhythm that originated from the island's African slaves, and it's become a really important musical tradition in Puerto Rico. And so she's kind of framing the song around that. But then toward the latter part of the song, you can also hear those little bits of electronic flourishes, and she starts introducing something that feels a little more modern and a little more contemporary in the track. And it becomes this really interesting mix of, you know, kind of old school and new school. And it just makes me really excited to see what she's going to do next.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TU RUMBA")

ILE: (Singing) No sé si tu rumba vaya con mo mambo, pero tienes lo que estoy necesitando.(Vocalizing) No sé si tu rumba vaya con mi mambo, pero tienes lo que estoy necesitando.

CONTRERAS: OK. Next is Isabelia. And Isabelia, you know, when you were doing your thing at Remezcla, I got to say, I was always impressed with how spot on you guys were with - under your leadership, under your direction as editor with pointing out music, almost looking around the corner, pointing out music that is ahead of the curve, pointing out music that is happening right now - but not just new stuff. It oftentimes reflected trends and other things that we needed to look out for. So I want to give you props for that before you connect with your next song.

HERRERA: Thank you. Thank you so much. I always tried to kind of find things that were happening on the ground and kind of just try and amplify them and bring them to a new audience. So I think, in that vein, my next song is going to be Ambar Lucid. She's a Dominican Mexican teenager from New Jersey, and she is interesting because I think she's part of this new generation of, like, U.S.-born Latinx indie artists. And I think now, perhaps for the first time in a long time, we've kind of had more visibility as U.S.-born Latinx artists, like, making music. So I think this song in particular - it's really beautiful. It's very, like, heartfelt and raw. She's, like, a singer-songwriter. I met her recently, and she, you know, talked about how one of the first CDs she ever bought was, like, a Selena Gomez CD, which is hilarious to me because it makes me feel old.

(LAUGHTER)

HERRERA: But I also, you know, really love that she takes inspiration from that, but she also takes inspiration from very, like, raw indie rock. And this song, in particular, is from her new EP that she dropped this year called "Dreaming Lucid." And she actually left high school a year early to pursue her career in music. So this is definitely going to be a big moment for her.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PINEAPPLE DEATH")

AMBAR LUCID: (Singing) Needless to say, here it come again. Living a sweet pineapple death. She's singing the words that come in my brain, taking on deep pineapple breath. Kiss me when the moon no longer shines. Between me and you, this is the start of the end of times. I'm waiting for my pineapple death. I'm praying as I lay in my bed. I don't know what it is that is next. I'm waiting for my pineapple death. Needless to say, I found my escape, so stop asking why and accept the change. I'm in my pineapple death.

CONTRERAS: The music of Ambar Lucid brought in by Isabelia Herrera from our look back at the best of the year so far. And before we go to our next pick, let's just do a quick little catch-up here. What's interesting to me is how do we even identify Latin music these days, you know, because these tracks so far have come from so many different styles, so many different genres. But, you know, I don't have a problem playing them on our show because they're all self-expression of incredibly talented Latin or Latinx artists. So I just want to get a take on the room. Isabelia, what are you thinking now? What - how do we define this, or can we define it, or do we need to define it?

HERRERA: All right. How much time we have...

(LAUGHTER)

HERRERA: ...On the show? I don't know. I think that the definition of what Latinx music is is, one, dynamic. It's always changing. It's always contextual based on what's happening on the ground. I think, you know, what we defined Latin music as 40 years ago is not necessarily what we would identify Latin music as today. And I also think even the term itself, Latin music, is, you know, it's a bit misleading. It's very monolithic. It - the very fact of trying to define a style of music that is based on identity I think is really hard because there's so many different genres. There's so many different styles that Latinos, Latin Americans, create that I think, like, trying to define what that is just almost creates more problems in and of itself. For me, I think it's important kind of to almost challenge this idea of what a monolithic Latin music means. To me, I think, you know, expressing the fact that there's all different kinds of genres, all different kinds of styles, all different kinds of people making this music is really important and to kind of, like, maybe try and crumble that very specific idea of what that means in the U.S. right now I think is really important.

CONTRERAS: Stefanie?

FERNÁNDEZ: I absolutely agree with that. And thank you, Isabelia, for the very well-worded response. But the one artist that we featured today, Cotó, when we spoke to him last year on this podcast, I remember him telling us that he wanted to be able to make bilingual music in English and Spanish without being boxed into just a Latin artist or just a Latinx artist. And now that - you know, some of these songs are in English. Some of these songs are in Spanish. That term no longer presupposes singing only in Spanish as - especially as we're seeing bilingual lyrics seep more into the mainstream in American music and artists like Cotó who have found success outside of the Latin characterization. I agree that we have to challenge it and continue to examine how to belong to that genre, but also to not box ourselves in to just remaining music for Latinos because I think, now more than ever, the moment is showing us that that's not the case.

CONTRERAS: Yeah. I agree with all of the above completely. It's just - like you said, 40 years ago when - about the time I started seriously listening - actually, more like 45 years ago is when I first started seriously listening to music, and there were just a few. It was very distinctive what you could listen to in terms of what would be Latin music. Of course we all - I listened to Santana. I listened to The Rolling Stones. I listened to Jackson 5 - right? - and mariachi when my mom had it on. So it's all mixed together. But now that's why I love this job so much these days is because there's so much more variety. There's so many different styles, so many different interesting things happening. So - well, let's keep celebrating. Stefanie, you're up - your song.

FERNÁNDEZ: So this was a hard one because I loved this entire album so much. But my next pick is Helado Negro's "Fantasma Vaga."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FANTASMA VAGA")

HELADO NEGRO: (Singing) Manipulando tubos, cambiándome cada vez así. Espantos de agosto. Supongo produce poco. Modulaciones en tu sonrisa. Desplazamiento que no puedo imitar. Formas en el fondo. El eco espectral. Fantasma vaga. Fantasma vaga. Fantasma vaga. Fantasma vaga.

FERNÁNDEZ: So this song is off Helado Negro's sixth album, "This Is How You Smile," which came out in March. He's definitely not new to this podcast. He's an NPR favorite. But this album, I think, was a departure in particular from his last album, "Private Energy," in 2016, which saw a lot of really political music responding to the political climate that was being born in 2016 in this country. This album I found to be a bit more introspective, a bit more of a look inward. And the album, through many different tracks, explores various articulations of self. So this song I found really special, among others, because the voice and the lyrics in the song imitate so much of the sound and what's happening, I think, sonically that I think is a crowning achievement for him in his long career.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FANTASMA VAGA")

HELADO NEGRO: (Singing) Y tú cambias o no. Y tú cambias o no. Y tú cambias o no. Y tú cambias todo, oh, oh, oh, oh. Fantasma vaga. Fantasma vaga. Fantasma vaga. Fantasma vaga. Fantasma vaga. Fantasma vaga. Fantasma vaga. Fantasma vaga. Fantasma vaga.

CONTRERAS: Boy, talking about redefining Latin music, man. OK. Let's see. I'm going to continue with one of my tracks. The West African singer Angélique Kidjo did a tribute album to Celia Cruz this year that I just fell in love with. Number one because I'm a huge fan of Celia Cruz, as we all are, right?

FERNÁNDEZ: Of course.

HERRERA: Absolutely.

(LAUGHTER)

FERNÁNDEZ: Without question.

CONTRERAS: And I'm just - I've been a fan of Angélique Kidjo for a long time, mainly because one of her tracks was on this lullaby CD that I had for my boys when they were small. And that's sort of how I discovered her. She's been around longer than that, but she's - that's how I discovered her music. And I've been in love with her voice. And the combining of these two - she redefined, reinterpreted, re-Africanized some of Celia's music and in a really profound and effective way. And I just - I fell in love with this record when I heard the first track. And I immediately, when I got the list of tracks to preview on a stream, I immediately had to go to "Quimbara" to see how she would do this. And it just got better once I listened to it. Have you guys heard this record?

HERRERA: Yes, and it's excellent.

FERNÁNDEZ: Yes, yes.

CONTRERAS: "Quimbara" from Angélique Kidjo.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "QUIMBARA")

ANGÉLIQUE KIDJO: (Singing) Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá. Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá.

CORO: (Singing) Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá. Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá.

KIDJO: (Singing) Eh, mamá, eh, eh, mamá., Eh, mamá, eh, eh, mamá. La rumba me está llamando. Bongó, dile que ya voy. Que se espere un momentico mientras canto un guaguancó. Dile que no es un desprecio, pues vive en mi corazón. Mi vida es tan solo eso, rumba buena y guaguancó, eh, ah. Eh, mamá, eh, eh, mamá. Eh, mamá, eh, eh, mamá. Azúcar.

CORO: (Singing) Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá. Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá.

KIDJO: (Singing) Si quieres gozar, si quieres bailar. Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá.

CORO: (Singing) Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá. Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá.

KIDJO: (Singing) Ay, lo baila María, también Joseíto. Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quim-- bajito.

CORO: (Singing) Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá. Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá.

KIDJO: (Singing) Quimbara, quimbara, quimbara, quimbara micumba, quimba, quimbara, cumbara, quimba. Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá.

CORO: (Singing) Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá. Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá.

KIDJO: (Singing) Eh, quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbara cumbara, quimba, quimbara, cumbara, quimba, Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá.

CORO: (Singing) Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá. Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá.

KIDJO: (Singing) Ay, lo baila Teresa, también Joseíto, quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quim, bajito. Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá.

CORO: (Singing) Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá. Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "QUIMBARA")

KIDJO: (Singing) Ay, quimbara, quimbara, quimbara, quimbara, micumba, quimba, quimbara, micumbra, cumba, Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá.

CORO: (Singing) Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá. Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá.

KIDJO: (Singing) Ajá, comorobará, comorobará. Dios mío. Ay, Dios mío. Oh, mi Dios.

CORO: (Singing) Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá. Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá. Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá. Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá.

KIDJO: (Singing) Eh, Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá. Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá. Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá.

CORO: (Singing) Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá. Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá.

KIDJO: (Singing) Eh, quimbara, que quimbara, que quimbara, que quimbara, que quimba quimbambá.

CORO: (Singing) Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá. Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá.

KIDJO: (Singing) Ay, la baila Teres y lo baila Juanito. Y quimbara, cumbara quimba, quim, bajito. Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá.

CORO: (Singing) Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá. Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá.

KIDJO: (Singing) Quimbara. Quimbara. Quimbara. Ay, quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá. Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá.

CORO: (Singing) Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá. Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá.

KIDJO: (Singing) Quimbara cumbara, quimba, quimbara cumbara, quimba, quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbara cumbara, quimba, quimbara cumbara, quimba, quimbambá.

CORO: (Singing) Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá. Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá.

KIDJO: (Singing) Quimbara cumbara, quimba, quimbara cumbara, quimba, quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbara cumbara, quimba, quimbara cumbara, quimba, quimbambá.

CORO: (Singing) Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá. Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá.

KIDJO: (Singing) Dequechí, cachán, cachán, cachán, cachumba, quimbara, quimbara, quimba, cum-- la rumba.

CORO: (Singing) Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá. Quimbara, cumbara, quimba, quimbambá.

CONTRERAS: Isabelia, you have one more. Which one do you want to point to?

HERRERA: I think I'm going to do Aventura, of course.

FERNÁNDEZ: Yes.

CONTRERAS: Oh, my God.

HERRERA: I have to do Aventura. It's, like, a little different for ALT.LATINO, but it's OK.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "INMORTAL")

AVENTURA: (Singing) Nadie entiende cómo este amor funciona, no se quiebra, no se dobla, nada lo destroza. Les presto mi cerebro que examinen, anularte de mi mente, ni quemando mis neuronas. Mami, yo te amo hasta lo infinito. Sólido como un meteorito. Lo que siento jamás lo van a entender. Dudan, los expertos buscan la cura, porque te quiero con locura. Desconfían que sea humano, mujer. Me someto a la ciencia con demoras. En mí, la testosterona solo se activa por ti. Vengan, háganme un estudio cerebral, porque mi conducta no es normal. Y este corazón, Dios lo hizo eterno. Sepan que este sentimiento es inmortal, en el libro Guinness voy a parar. Hombre quien más ha amado a una hembra. Mami, yo te amo hasta el infinito. Sólido como un meteorito. Lo que siento jamás lo van a entender. Perpetuo, impecable como la luz. La demencia de mi actitud. Te repito, nadie me va a entender. Yo playboy, llora. A kiss. Mami, yo te amo hasta lo infinito. Sólido como un meteorito. Lo que siento jamás lo van a entender. Dudan, los expertos buscan la cura, porque te quiero con locura. Desconfían que sea humano, mujer. Me someto a la ciencia con demoras. En mí, la testosterona solo se activa por ti. Vengan, háganme un estudio cerebral, porque mi conducta no es normal, y este corazón Dios lo hizo eterno. Sepan que este sentimiento es inmortal. El el libro Guinness voy a parar. Hombre quien más ha amado a una hembra. Mami, yo te amo hasta lo infinito, sólido como un meteorito, lo que siento jamás lo van a entender. Perpetuo, impecable como la luz. La demencia de mi actitud. Te repito, nadie me va a entender. Let's go. It's like we never left. Mickey Fon, Fon. Fon.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: Primo, pero dilo.

AVENTURA: (Singing) Ok, Aventura. Lo ven superficial, como un enigma. Que a mí me falta un tornillo de remate y sin salida. Tu loco trastornado, mami mía. Yo te añoro y te valoro, más que a mi propia vida. Yo, ay, yo, te, ay, te, amo. Ay, mami, yo te amo. Yo, ay, Dios, te, ay, amo. Hasta el infinito, mi amor. Hasta el infinito, bebé, te amo. Oye, qué feeling, mami. (Vocalizing). Yo te amo. (Vocalizing). Aventura. Ella es..

CONTRERAS: OK. Stefanie, you have one more. Which one are you going to do?

FERNÁNDEZ: I am going to go for Snow Tha Product's "Bilingue."

CONTRERAS: OK, if there are any children in the room, you got to leave right now.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BILINGUE")

SNOW THA PRODUCT: (Rapping) I really cannot wrap my head around the fact it's taken me this long to finally realize I'm fantastic. I used to write my little raps. They'd always look right past it like it's average, like I'm not who the fuck I am. Like, bitch, what's happening? Porque yo no tengo el yo no secua, flow que mata, el que vibra, a mí me vale, critica. Yo soy la fucking mexicana, muy honesta la chava, yo no ando con pendejadas, aquí rifa las barras, a mí me dijo mi madre que yo nunca me raje, que no hable el que no sabe, nosotros somos de calle. Hasta en mi territorio yo traigo llave y se abre. Lo que quiero yo tengo, punto y aparte. Plus I got a bitch in my DMs talking about, where her man? Did I see him? Talking about he comment pics that I be in. I just tell my friends y se ríen. Bitch, I jaja con jota, ha, ha, ha with a J. I speak English and Spanish. I'm bilingual all day. Fuck Trump. Wait, oops, that slipped out. Man, I never know who's in this crowd. Need a prayer and a crucifix now. Never really know who shoot this bitch down. Ni de aquí ni de allá, a mí me gustan los dos, mucha crema tus tacos, y se te quema el arroz. Hola, ¿qué tal? Dime cómo estás? Yo ni soy de aquí ni soy de allá. Hola, ¿qué tal? Dime cómo estas, yo sí soy de aquí y soy de allá. Un 82 de lengua. ah, ah, ah, ah, ah,, un 82 de lengua. ah, ah, ah, ah, ah. Un 82 de lengua. Falta puro que a mí me paren, yo soy desmadrosa de a madres, yo tengo a mis primos con jales, tengo influencia en varios canales. Yo speak Spanish, yo spek English, yo vendo cd's and dvd's. Yo soy muy cara, tú eres cheapy, yo soy mi camino, Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep. Get the fuck up out my way. Esos güeyes know my name, quieren que yo me de, pero ya reté a los United States. Y parece que alguien la trae contra mí, porque de mi parte parece que ni...

CONTRERAS: Isabelia Herrera, talking to us from New York. Thank you so much for joining us.

HERRERA: Thank you for having me, Felix.

CONTRERAS: Stefanie Fernández here in D.C. Thank you for joining us again.

FERNÁNDEZ: Thank you, Felix.

CONTRERAS: And our thanks to Julyssa Lopez who is in Berlin. Thank you so much for taking time to do this. And thanks for checking in with us.

LOPEZ: Of course. Thank you for having me.

CONTRERAS: (Speaking German).

LOPEZ: (Speaking German). Very good, Felix (laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BILINGUE")

SNOW THA PRODUCT: (Rapping) Yo sí soy de aquí y soy de alla, una horchata y dos de lengua, ah, ah, ah, ah, una horchata y dos de lengua, ah, ah, ah, una horchata y dos de lengua, ah, ah, ah, ah. Bitch, I jaja con jota, Ha ha ha with the J. I speak English and Spanish, I'm bilingual all day, OK.

Copyright © 2019 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.