For Black History Month, Celebrate Afro-Latino Music With Smithsonian Folkways

-images-uploads-gallery-sfw40574_cover_1500_wide-6da431eed4aef700e0da33a5441d4fc1185839e2-s800-c85.jpgvia NPR’s Alt.Latino‘s Felix Contreras:

As part of our celebration of Black History Month and Afro-Latino culture, we turn this week to how the influence of Africa has been interpreted in various Latin and Caribbean cultures. The music of West Africa, where a majority of those enslaved in the Americas came from, was diffused through both an indigenous and Spanish filter to become the distinct sounds and rhythms that we know today.

Cumbia, bachata, mambo and son jarocho are all quite distinct from each other and are still very vibrant expressions of tradition. But, more importantly, they also inform and influence a tidal wave of new expression, mixing with hip-hop, electronic, rock and jazz to form the musical bedrock of Alt.Latino.

In this week’s show, we dive into the vaults of Smithsonian Folkways, the non-profit record label dedicated to American folk traditions of all kinds. Our guide is Folkways curator emeritus Dan Sheehy, who knows a thing or two about Afro-Latino music and culture: He has traveled extensively to produce many of the great recordings in the archive.

LISTEN HERE.

New hip-hop by Ratking, Nani Castle

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Still from Wikispeaks via YouTube.

I’ve been a super fan of New York City’s Ratking since stumbling upon a random blog post (Complex? Vice? Can’t remember.) that led me to XL Recordings, and the single, “646-704-2610,” last year. I was pretty enthralled with this video for “Wikispeaks” (featuring the spunky emcee, Wiki, who often refers to himself as a mutt– he’s half Puerto-Rican) because it just shows a bunch of kids walking through New York City while he spits fire:

“Damn I feel like Jay-Z in ’96
Man I feel like ODB in ’93
Am I even an ’04 Ye?”

Shortly thereafter, they released So It Goes (via Hot Charity) in 2014. There was just something REAL New York hip-hop kids about it. (Btw, if you haven’t heard “Remova Ya,” get on it, as it is the quintessential song about the NYPDs now defunct Stop-and-Frisk policy.)

“To the boys in blue
Never really liked you, rubbed me rude”

Well, they dropped some new tunes (!!!) via bit torrent this week. Grab 700 Fill here.

I like how So It Goes is described in the bundle: “an exhilarating and reckless lyrical portrait of a maybe-vanishing city; part Vonnegut, part Dipset, part Suicide.” Yeah, that’s putting it perfectly. Unlock the 700 Fill bundle to get 9 new tracks, instrumentals, and a short video from Ari Marcopoulos.

Speaking of young New Yorkers who rap, and are half Latino, Staten Island’s Nani Castle just dropped The Amethyst Tape. Thanks to Nati (conrazón) for putting me onto her.

Nani Castle
Nani Castle

Get to know more about the half Chilena, whose dad came to the States as an exile in the 70s, here via Remezcla. Warning: her stuff isn’t gentle and girly. It’s pretty POW!

“Welcome to my castle, Come into dungeon
Come inside, I wanna show you something.”