The playlist: Latin American pop – Dominican dembow and suave crooners


Dominican Republic: El Alfa – No Te Panike

Dominican dembow, an interpolation of rap, mambo, and the dembow riddim, is arguably the hypest music being made in the world right now. If not, it’s certainly the most prolific genre. The baby-voiced prankster known as El Alfa may be dembow’s most prolific artist, too, with what seems like a new single every few days. No Te Panike (meaning don’t panic), a track dissing fellow dembow artist El Mayor Clásico, is not his most recent — that honor goes to the wacky Tarzan — but the video captures dembow’s vibrant, house party energy. It’s not usually this man-centric — El Alfa, in particular, is really a lover, not a fighter (see last year’s mega street hit Calimete) — but I suppose this is what happens when two dudes trading bars start puffing.

México: Erick Rincon – Danza de los Muertos

Erick Rincon is one of the young producers in 3BallMTY, the biggest stars to emerge from the hyper-syncopated Mexican dance music known as 3Ball. His latest track, a rare freebie celebrating México’s Day of the Dead, shows how he, and the genre, are evolving from its more furiously ravey early days as “tribal guarachero”: he drops the signature submerged bass at the beginning to introduce the beat, letting a signature seesaw melody crash into eerie pan flute whistles, which in turn fan out into a muted synth alluding to deep house. It’s an especially sophisticated take on the genre he helped invent, and shows the moodier direction Rincon seems to be taking things (see also “Dark Flow”).

Puerto Rico: Farruko f. El Boy C – Nadie Tiene Que Saber

Farruko’s sweet-sounding voice and puppy dog eyes do indeed belie his intent: “Nadie Tiene Que Saber” translates to “Nobody has to know” and even non-Spanish speakers can imagine what sexy they don’t have to know about. A reggaeton superstar at just 23, his new album Farruko Presenta: Los Menores has made him the latest in a line of suave crooners (bachata star Romeo Santos, newcomer J. Balvin, and I guess world-dominator Enrique Iglesias counts) to own the Latin/Tropical charts this year. Farruko’s 6 AM with J. Balvin, is also a jam, and illustrates the club appeal of a good reggaeton balladeer. Gasolina was released ten years ago. We’ve come a long way, bebé.

Chile: Javiera Mena – Otra Era

Otra Era is only Chilean synth pop star Javiera Mena’s third album in almost ten years, but the title track makes the four-year wait since her acclaimed breakthrough Mena worth it: she’s living fully in the dream realm, waxing doe-eyed about some individual who transports her to another era, made further multidimensional with that breathless, house-inspired piano transition. It’s simple in its approach and quite modern in its sleekness (and the album’s house steez, in general), but mostly you wanna put it on in a rainstorm and let its idyll hit you right in the visceral.

US: Bodega Bamz – El-Rey

El jefe of New York’s Tanboyz crew, Spanish Harlem rapper Bodega Bamz just released the first single from his debut album Sidewalk Exec, and it’s packed with the snarled Spanglish he nailed on his last mixtape Strictly for My P.A.P.I.Z.: street brags with references specific to Latino culture (Bamz is of both Dominican and Puerto Rican descent). It’s a short song, but his mission is laid out in a line: “King of Manhattan, wearing chancletas … I got the hood sayin’ ‘bodega…’”


–Courtesy of The Guardian

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