Latin Hip-Hop And Rap Offers Own Styles, Messages

Oct 6, 2011

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Tell Me More is offering a weekly series on Latin music with guests Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd, hosts of NPR Music's Alt.Latino podcast. They've been sharing new music from across Latin America and Spain.

Today, they explore Latin hip-hop and rap.

Garsd takes audiences to Puerto Rico, home of Calle 13, a band consisting of stepbrothers René Pérez Joglar and Eduardo Cabra Martínez, and their sister Ileana Cabra Jogla. They have earned 10 Latin Grammy nominations, and Garsd says their music delivers strong activist messages about political rights and other concerns in the region.

From Spain comes Mala Rodriguez, a rapper with flamenco roots. Garsd says she has a "very southern Spanish accent, with this very sexy lisp."

Garsd interprets the artist saying in the song, "Yo No Mato El Tiempo," "I want to recognize myself and feel at home in the middle of nowhere. Stutter without fear. I have so much without fear. Come on papi, let's see the day break."

Garsd also highlights Ana Tijoux, a French-Chilean artist. Her latest album, "1977," relates to a pivotal moment in Chilean history and her birthday. Her more recent work is the "Elefant" mixtape, which features remixes of old songs, including "Tambalea," "Obstaculo" and "Problema De 2."

Garsd says Tijoux almost melts and reshapes the Spanish language, and in the process invents her own language.

Finally, Garsd turns attention to Panamanian rapper Raka Dun, who makes up Los Rakas with his cousin Raka Rich. His song, "Sueño Americano," comes from his brand new short album, "Afro Latino." NPR has obtained permission to play the song as an exclusive premiere on its network.

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