© 2020 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Alt Latino: Songs For Spring

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Washington, D.C.'s world-famous cherry blossoms were blooming this week, and they were beautiful. And also in full flower, new music from our friends at Alt.Latino. Host Felix Contreras joins us now. Happy spring, Felix.

FELIX CONTRERAS, BYLINE: Happy spring to you, Lulu. This is my favorite time of the year 'cause the blossoms are so lovely to look at. And it reminds me of rebirth, new life and new music.

(SOUNDBITE OF NINA DIOZ SONG "AMOR, LOCURA Y OTROS VICIOS")

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And we need all of that after this past year.

CONTRERAS: (Laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So let's hear some of that new music.

CONTRERAS: OK, let's start with some hip-hop from Mexico and the rapera, or female rapper, Nina Dioz.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AMOR, LOCURA, Y OTROS VICIOS")

NINA DIOZ: (Singing in Spanish).

CONTRERAS: This is the title track from her new album, "Amor, Locura Y Otros Vicios." Now, she's notable for staking the claim in the very male-dominated Mexican hip-hop scene. And she's been shaking up that world and society in general. And this lyric is an example of how. She's owning her queerness. It's a statement of independence. And it shatters any expectations of tradition.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AMOR, LOCURA, Y OTROS VICIOS")

NIOZ: (Rapping in Spanish). I think I know why they don't like me. I know they don't like me. (Rapping in Spanish).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Those are great lyrics. A rapera y queer. She's great.

CONTRERAS: She's kind of under the radar. But, you know, people in Mexico know her music and on this side of the border too. She's a vocalist to watch out for.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. What's next?

CONTRERAS: OK, another vocalist, this time from Chile. Her name is Mon Laferte. And she's a bit of a musical chameleon. She started out just this side of pop music in Chile. And since then, she's done a lot of different takes on music. A few years ago, she even released a killer big-band, mambo album. Now, her new album is a personal tribute to Chavela Vargas, who is a well-known and well-loved vocalist who sang Mexican rancheras - and think guitars, mariachis and operatic vocals about love. This is from her new album, "Seis." The song is called "Se Me Va A Quemar El Corazon." And the first version we're going to hear is just voice and guitar, like - very much like Chavela Vargas.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SE ME VA A QUEMAR EL CORAZÓN")

MON LAFERTE: (Singing in Spanish).

CONTRERAS: And then she features a large brass ensemble common to the genre known as banda, which is very popular in northern Mexico and the southwest of this country. And it speaks to her ability to cross genres and styles and, in this case, on a single album.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SE ME VA A QUEMAR EL CORAZÓN")

LAFERTE: (Singing in Spanish).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Ah, I love that.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SE ME VA A QUEMAR EL CORAZÓN")

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Singing in Spanish).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You are right to like her (laughter).

CONTRERAS: Big fan of hers, big fan of hers.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. What's next?

CONTRERAS: OK, there's a way cool movement in Latin America, a female vocalist singing contemporary R&B. And it's particularly strong in Mexico. Our next artist - her name is Girl Ultra. And she's an Alt.Latino fave. She's a younger artist from Mexico City. And her new single is called "Rosas."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ROSAS")

GIRL ULTRA: (Singing in Spanish).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Ah, beautiful - beautiful...

CONTRERAS: Right?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...And somber - yeah, really interesting music.

CONTRERAS: Yeah.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So what else do you got?

CONTRERAS: OK, let's go to the Bay Area. Another vocalist - she's called La Dona. And she's got a mixture of influences, the lowrider culture there in California, what she calls Mission-Street-muralist aesthetic there from the Bay Area and her interpretation of border culture, what she calls radical brown femininity. This track is called "Setas y Ceros."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SETAS Y CEROS")

LA DONA: (Singing in Spanish). (Laughter). No, this is my poison. Capitalism is killing us. But I'm still out here. (Singing in Spanish).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's very cool. I got to ask you - you often bring me some Cuban music just for me, just for me, not from our listeners at all.

CONTRERAS: (Laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Did you bring any this time?

CONTRERAS: OK, sort of. Check this out.

(SOUNDBITE OF OMAR SOSA'S "ELRABABA")

CONTRERAS: This is Cuban pianist Omar Sosa. And I'm a big fan of his music. And his new album is called "East African Journey." And what it is is a series of field recordings he made during a tour of East Africa 10 years ago. And he told me that the music was so powerful, it took him this long to absorb the spirit and energy of it all. People love Omar Sosa mostly because his performances are almost spiritual in nature. And this album continues that tradition. It's another amazing musical chapter that is the story of Omar Sosa. And he's also prolific because he already has a new album coming out within a couple of months. And each record is a must hear.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And you talk to him this week on Alt.Latino.

CONTRERAS: He is featured on this week's Alt.Latino, yes. And speaking of the podcast, you know, earlier this year, we moved our publish date to Sundays because of a crazy scheduling snafu we had back in January. And we heard back from listeners who enjoyed listening to you on WEEKEND EDITION and then firing up Alt.Latino right after. So apparently, it made for a nice...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Ha.

CONTRERAS: ...Sunday morning combination.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, I agree. That's why we like having you on.

(LAUGHTER)

CONTRERAS: Like cafe and orange juice, man.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Like cafe and orange juice. (Speaking Spanish). Felix Contreras is the host of NPR Music's Alt.Latino. Make sure after you listen to us to fire up his podcast. Thanks so much.

CONTRERAS: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF OMAR SOSA'S "ELRABABA") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.