by Nicole Rodriguez, Production Editor
Hispanic Heritage Month is upon us. From Sept. 15 – Oct. 15, we celebrate the contributions, history and culture of Hispanic and Latinx communities in the United States and what better way to immerse yourself in a culture than to listen to its music! Below is a mixture of some classics that have shaped me into who I am today, “Spanglish” songs to serve as your warm introduction to the culture and more urban sounds that are sure to get you on your feet and perreando.
Dos Locos – Monchy & Alexandra
Although I’m Puerto Rican, having grown up in Washington Heights, a predominantly Dominican neighborhood in Upper Manhattan, I have to pay my respects to my neighbors from the Caribbean who had a heavy influence on my upbringing. Whether it was blasting out of the window of someone’s car or playing in the bodega on the corner of my elementary school, this song was in constant rotation in the early 2000s. The song follows the tale of two star-crossed lovers who find themselves both in relationships with other people, but not being able to shake the remnants of their past love from their minds and still longing for one another — a sad reality for many.
La Dueña del Swing – Los Hermanos Rosario
This song will make you move in ways you never thought you could and best believe your impulse to dance is inevitable when listening to this song. I say this whole-heartedly as someone with two left feet who still manages to get on the dance floor at any function once this plays. That being said, if this song plays at any get-together or party, get straight to shaking those hips and don’t expect to be leaving any time soon.
Rebelión – Joe Arroyo
While this song’s percussion beats and Latin piano automatically captivate the listener, it is actually Colombian singer Joe Arroyo’s lyrics that make this classic most notable and worth understanding. The song takes the listener to Cartegena, Colombia in the 1600s, one of the largest slave-trading ports in South America at the time, and specifically tells about a slave rebelling against his Spanish master for hitting his wife. Not only do the lyrics exemplify the versatility and range of salsa music, but also serve as a reminder of history and Afro-Latinx roots.
Selena – Como la Flor
Selena is a timeless staple no matter what background you come from and dare I say, watching the Selena movie was a coming of age and rite of passage for all young Latinx women. If you think I’m talking about the recent Netflix series, you’re awfully mistaken. I remember vividly watching the movie with my mother at a young age and being immediately captivated by her story of humility and natural-born talent. Whether you prefer the movie or the series there’s one thing we all can agree on, she was taken from us way too soon.
Ahora Quien – Marc Anthony
This is the first song I ever memorized word-for-word at four years old. Talk about in- tense for a toddler who just started going to pre-k and learning English for the first time. Somehow I could recite this love song verbatim on command once met with my father’s encouraging “Dale Nicole.” Looking back now, it seems like he was preparing me to be some sort of salsa protégé with the music he had me listen to on our drives to school, but I am forever grateful for the deep connection and appreciation of listening to songs like this brought me for my culture.
Oye Mi Canto – N.O.R.E. (feat. Daddy Yankee, Nina Sky, Gem Star & Big Mato)
“Oye Mi Canto” which translates to “Hear My Song” is a major throwback for me. At the time when this dropped, I loved it and I had it on my MP3 because I liked its sound, but I didn’t necessarily understand its significance. As I reflect now, for many including myself, this song served as an anthem for the Latinx diaspora to channel their pride for their country of heritage. I speak for myself and the many which belong to the diaspora when I say this, but a lot of times it’s hard to find our place and know where we belong. To put it in much simpler terms, we’re seen as the outsider within the country we have so much pride in because we live in the United States, but within the United States, we have trouble assimilating because we’re seen as this “other.” Apart from serving big New York energy, this song provides a sense of belonging and togetherness for the melting pot that links our common Hispanic and Latinx history.
Ella y Yo – Aventura & Don Omar
While the Dominican-American group Aventura and the Puerto Rican artist Don Omar represent two different genres within the Latinx music industry, this song displays the seamless combination of bachata and reggaeton music which is still done today. The words that come to mind when hearing this song are shock, betrayal, and distrust. The music video and song are framed as two friends discussing their love lives. One is married and the other is seeing a married woman. The song is a back and forth exchange between the two which quickly turns from advice to an apology, to then an end of a friendship as the married man discovers his friend has been seeing his wife behind his back. It contains realism, meaning and a great beat. You can guess which two out of the three components my younger self was mainly concerned with (hint: a good beat).
fue mejor – Kali Uchis & PAR TYNEXTDOOR
Not to be that person, but I knew about Kali Uchis before telepatía. I was first introduced to Uchis by her song “Loner” featured in her 2015 EP “Por Vida” and was immediately hooked. Apart from her own discography, she has been featured on songs with artists such as Tyler, The Creator, Daniel Caesar and Don Toliver to name a few. I am a really big fan of Uchis’ work and think her crossover to Spanish language music was wise, fitting, appealing and unique. Cross-overs for artists with an exist- ing following are usually heavily discouraged, but I’m so glad she took this risk or else one of my favorite albums would have never been created. With her album “Sin Miedo,” featuring this collaboration with another of my favorite artists’ PARTYNEXTDOOR, Uchis effortlessly delves into the world of bilingual music.
Otra Noche Sin Ti – J Balvin & Khalid
This song is another perfect example of bilingual or “Spanglish” music. J Balvin and Khalid are two artists who have each been successful in their own respects, yet collaboration is something that I didn’t expect or know I needed. The collaboration, rhythm and song themselves enchanted me. The song describes a loss of interest or a painful heartbreak where you accept spending another night without the person you so desperately yearn to be by your side. Consequently, you have also come to terms with the fact you have been replaced by someone else, specifically someone you least expected. This song invokes an all too familiar feeling that can make its way to one of your pre-existing in-your bag playlists.
Todo de Ti – Rauw Alejandro
You don’t need to know Spanish to enjoy music from the latest rising Puerto Rican star Rauw Alejandro. I think every song on his latest album “Vice Versa” is worth listening to as he brings such a distinctive vibe to the table with an incredibly expanded range that includes house music, pop, R&B, reggaeton, Brazilian funk and beyond. Alejandro’s song “Todo de Ti” may sound like just another Latin pop song to fresh ears, but this record symbolizes much more, specifically that mainstream Latin hits appear to be loosening from the constraints set by their predecessors and becoming much more experimental as time goes on. Alejandro’s charisma and stage presence are addictive and it becomes incredibly difficult to only limit yourself to one of his songs.
Pepas – Farruko
If you were in NYC this summer, then you know there was no escaping this song. Quite frankly there’s still no escaping this EDM track whether it be through TikTok or a long night out in Dyckman. The song has quickly skyrocketed on the charts gaining global appeal. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve definitely spent way too much time air-playing the trumpet when this song comes on. Apart from being a very obvious dance track with its mesmerizing breakdown and beat drops, it’s also a universal feel-good song making it the ideal addition to diversify your playlist.
Yonaguni – Bad Bunny
I can’t think of any better way to close off this playlist than with a song from none other than Bad Bunny. Bad Bunny has easily become a household name not just for his phenomenal music, but for his overall impact in defying gender norms and advocating for inclusivity and acceptance for all. He is definitely an artist for and of this generation by unapologetically embracing his individuality and staying true to himself. His innovativeness and versatility remain unmatched as he’s successfully been able to produce high-quality music for the masses ranging from trap, hip hop and even rock effortlessly. What other artist has taught you Japanese at the end of a song?