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Alt.Latino Playlist: From Up North To Down South

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Alt.Latino Playlist: From Up North To Down South

Alt.Latino Playlist: From Up North To Down South

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Once a month, Alt.Latino host Felix Contreras brings music he selects to share with us. But every once in a while, he lets me choose, but with a catch. He sends me the music but doesn't include any information about the songs or musicians, a kind of musical blind tasting test. I picked out four songs, and we're going to start with the first one. I picked this because I absolutely love the lyrics. Let's listen...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DE NADA SIRVE")

NO TE VA GUSTAR: (Singing in Spanish).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Felix, good morning.

FELIX CONTRERAS, BYLINE: Good morning. Good morning, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, I like the lyrics. They're very existential, you know, kind of like nothing matters, saying goodbye doesn't matter, you know, valor doesn't matter. So what did I pick?

CONTRERAS: OK, this is a band called No Te Va Gustar. They're from Uruguay.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: My favorite country in South America.

CONTRERAS: Very, very talented group of guys. This is what they specialize in. They're a rock band. They specialize in these very intensely literate lyrics, OK? They're songwriters and masquerading as a rock band. And this album is a collection of live performances. It's been out for a minute, but the new video illustrates the back and forth they have, this closeness they have with Uruguay's other musical expert, Jorge Drexler. It's a great video, great song, great album.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DE NADA SIRVE")

NO TE VA GUSTAR AND JORGE DREXLER: (Singing in Spanish).

CONTRERAS: Good choice.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, up next, behind door No. 3...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PAN PAN")

ANI CORDERO: (Singing in Spanish).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I like this because it's boppy, it's happy. It reminds me of the Colombian band the (speaking Spanish). I don't know if you remember them.

CONTRERAS: Yes, absolutely.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah, I love them. So this kind of reminded me of that.

CONTRERAS: OK, this is - good choice, again. OK, This is "Pan Pan" by the artist Ani Cordero.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PAN PAN")

CORDERO: (Singing in Spanish).

CONTRERAS: Ani is from New York right now. She's originally from Atlanta, raised by Puerto Rican parents. So she's got all these different things going on. She's a very talented singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. And her specialty, what she's best at, is socially conscious lyrics. This song is called "Pan Pan," and it's a metaphor for the corruption in Puerto Rico.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PAN PAN")

CORDERO: (Singing in Spanish).

CONTRERAS: The song, even though it sounds upbeat, summer-y dance tune, it's about corruption in Puerto Rico, which, of course, is in the news.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: It is indeed.

CONTRERAS: And it features the vocalist Emina on the track.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. Up next, I chose No. 4.

CONTRERAS: I knew you would.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "A LAS ROCAS")

RAQUEL SOFIA: (Singing in Spanish)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: This is my jam.

CONTRERAS: Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "A LAS ROCAS")

SOFIA: (Singing in Spanish).

CONTRERAS: This is called "Las Rocas." This is Raquel Sofia, another Puerto Rican vocalist based in Miami - a big fan of hers, have been for a long time. She's done a Tiny Desk, and she's paired on this track with PJ Sin Suela, who's a Puerto Rican hip-hop artist, who's actually out on the front lines of the demonstration, very involved in the island there. But this is a fun summer jam. When you look at the video, it's all about just having a fun summer jam, which is kind of out of character for Raquel Sofia because she's, again, a very literate songwriter, very intense, very introspective. I love this track. I love this side of her. Summer jam, you're right, absolutely.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "A LAS ROCAS")

SOFIA: (Singing in Spanish).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I clearly had Puerto Rico on the brain...

CONTRERAS: Look at this.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...Without knowing it.

CONTRERAS: Look at this.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK, and next out of the six songs you sent me, I chose No. 5.

(SOUNDBITE OF OZUNA AND ANITTA SONG, “MUITO CALOR”)

CONTRERAS: A little bit of Brazil in the beginning with the cuica (vocalizing).

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MUITO CALOR")

OZUNA: (Singing) Yeah, yeah. Yeah, baby. (Singing in Spanish).

CONTRERAS: And then a nice little reggaeton groove. This is Ozuna and Anitta, OK? Ozuna's probably the biggest hitmaker in Puerto Rico right now. Him, Bad Bunny - look at this. This is amazing. Puerto Rico, OK.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Puerto Rico. And Anitta, of course, very famous in Brazil, where I used to live, yeah.

CONTRERAS: Huge, huge. Again, a nice little summer jam. This is called "Muito Calor" which means...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Very hot.

CONTRERAS: There you go. I love the mixture of the little bit of Brazilian music and the Portuguese, along with the reggaeton thing, really nice.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: It works.

CONTRERAS: Right?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Makes me happy. That is Felix Contreras, the host of NPR Music's Alt.Latino podcast. And, you know, I got to say, love this music. Thanks so much.

CONTRERAS: Of course, thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MUITO CALOR")

ANITTA: (Singing in Spanish).

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