Fierce

Cuban Songstress Kat Dahlia Speaks On Why Adding Spanish To Her Music Isn’t For A Trend — She’s Been Doing It Intentionally For An Important Reason

Monique Chavez

Two decades ago, an eight-year-old Kat Dahlia sat in her Miami home writing rhymes she’d sing and rap aloud. Now, at 28, the raspy songstress says she’s a lot like the scribbling child artist she used to be. Sure, she’s had chart-toppers, like her 2013 hit “Gangsta,” a former major record label deal and a studio album, but, when it comes to making music, her creativity and hunger remains as fresh as it was twenty years ago.

“In a lot of ways, it still feels like the beginning, like I’m still eight years old. I’m writing my best music yet, and the next biggest song is yet to come,” the Cuban-American artist, who this month returned from a two-hear hiatus, tells FIERCE.

Kat’s next big banger could be her latest single “I’m Doin’ Good,” a light reggaeton bop about protecting your well-being. For her, the bilingual track, produced by her longtime collaborator Royal Z, is another “female anthem,” a song women who are on a path of self-growth can listen to for strength when the past is trying to pull them back.

“Knowing my girls would tell me ‘don’t’ / Buscando mi conección / No quiero perder mi dirección,” she sings, her voice gritty and sincere.

Kat, who has long made music inspired by her Cuban culture (if you haven’t listened to “Tumbao” do it — now!) with the intention of empowering women and girls, believes we are in a time where, sonically, audiences will be more understanding of her Latin-infused R&B and pop and, cognitively, more open to her message.

Returning as an indie artist, the now Los Angeles-based performer is taking on a new chapter in her career and life, and she’s hyped. We chatted with Kat about new music — which she has been holding onto and is finally ready to release to eager fans — upcoming shows, artistic and personal growth as well as self-preservation, among so much more.

FIERCE: You are coming back from a two-year hiatus. How does this feel, energizing, intimidating, natural?

Kat Dahlia: It feels like everything. It’s exciting and it’s scary. It’s also kind of like a weight lifted off my shoulders, to be honest, because when you’re creating all you want to do is just release stuff, and I feel like the moment has finally come.

FIERCE: I see you wiped your Instagram clean, too. Does it feel like a fresh new start for you? 

Kat Dahlia: In a way. I think it’s just like a new chapter. I don’t know if it’s like a fresh start, but it’s definitely a new chapter, and I wanted that to be reflected on my Instagram. Also, I think it helps make it look, aesthetically, like a new chapter.

FIERCE: How does returning as an indie artist impact the direction of your music and the focus you are able to give to your creativity?

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I’m Doin Good Out Meow!!!! 🐱 📸: @mochavez

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Kat Dahlia: I mean, I feel like I’m in complete control now in a lot of ways, which can be nerve-wracking. I definitely wake up every morning thinking about it and going to sleep thinking about it. It’s my entire responsibility and my entire career. I’m like the boss of myself. So it’s very empowering but also can be scary at times.

FIERCE: How so?

Kat Dahlia: Well, a lot of the weight is on you. I am the label. I am the everything now, so I really have the pressure on myself. But it’s a good pressure, honestly. I would rather it this way. 

FIERCE: Your evolvement as an artist is evident in the sound of your new music. Do you think you’ve grown as an artist during this hiatus or that you are just now able to do the music you want to do? 

Kat Dahlia: I think it’s both. I think I’ve grown as an artist and as a woman. I think that music has changed since “Gangsta.” I think that my musical taste has changed as well. There’s just so much growth happening, from within me and the world, and the music reflects that.

FIERCE: How do you think those exterior changes you mentioned influenced you?

Kat Dahlia: Even the way people release music now, even the way people consume music, how quickly it’s consumed. That affects the way that I as an artist will put out the music, how often I’m going to be putting out music. Social media, everything, so much has changed the way that the world consumes information, music — everything is just faster. So for me it was really important to have worked for two-plus years on a lot of music and have a really strong catalog and focus on making my best shit, so that, when the time comes, it’s like boom, I have a whole arsenal of stuff that I can just keep dropping. And while doing that, I can also continue to keep making. But it needed to be right, it needed to be stuff that I loved and something that I truly do believe in. It is important as an indie artist. I was with a label for a really long time, and I didn’t really have 100 percent of the say, and now I do, which is awesome and freeing. But it takes time, and as that time goes on, two years, a lot of shit fucking happened. People were dropping music every month, every day, and I needed to make sure I wasn’t just making songs and putting them out. I wanted to make really, really, really good shit.

FIERCE: One of the most obvious stylistic differences we hear with your music right now is its fusion of urbano with R&B and pop. You’ve never shied away from embracing your Cuban culture in your music, but it feels a little more intentional now. Why is that?


Kat Dahlia: I was always doing it. In my first album, I had Spanish songs, I redid Celia Cruz’s “Tumbao,” I did the Spanish version of “Gangsta.” It just seems like now, with this Latin surge, it feels more important, which is great, because when I was doing it, it wasn’t as big as it is now. Now, there’s the space to do it and now I can do so much more with it. I can do it in the way that I want to do it, in a way I think is cool. And now that there’s this platform, this explosion of Latin musical culture, it’s great because there’s so many more eyes on it, people care more, it’s more important. 

FIERCE: Your latest single “I’m Doin’ Good” is a bop. You called it “another female anthem.” Why?

Kat Dahlia: I want it to be a female anthem. I feel like every time I make songs, I’m always thinking about our perspective. There are so many songs that girls are singing these days that are written by men, so they are not authentically our perspective. So I’m constantly thinking of songs that feel more genuine to me and hopefully connect with other females, kind of like “Gangsta” or “I Think I’m In Love.” Those songs are important to young females. They want to feel empowered, in love. They want to connect to stuff, just how I want to connect to stuff, that feels real.

FIERCE: In “I’m Doin’ Good,” you sing, “‘Cause I’m doing good right now. I don’t wanna lose myself. I’m doing good right now, and you calling doesn’t help.” The song, to me, is about protecting your mental health and not letting anyone take you back from the emotional or spiritual gains you’ve made. Why is this preservation of self necessary to you?

Kat Dahlia: Because I think people, like myself, can get wrapped up in things that are not good for us. I feel like this last year, I’ve been super focused on my mental and physical health and getting to know myself better to live a more authentic life and not waste my time with bullshit.

FIERCE: How do you, Kat, the woman, safeguard your mental health and growth in your personal life, especially as an artist in the public eye?

Kat Dahlia: I think my biggest thing is just keeping boundaries with certain people and habits. It’s about staying focused on what really does feel important to me and knowing the difference between what really is important to me and what is a distraction. It’s knowing what’s not good for me, being aware of that, and saying no to it.

FIERCE: I want to get back to the music, because I know you have a lot of new-new on the way. What can you tell us about it?

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Waiting on my song to drop tonight like…

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Kat Dahlia: I’m just going to keep dropping songs, like three or four more by the end of the year. Then, in the first quarter of next year, I hope to drop a project. I also want to drop videos for every song. I just made shit and focused on making shit that I like, which is always going to end up leaning urban, R&B, Afro-beat, Latin, everything, just a representation of me and the shit that I like.

FIERCE: In a recent interview, you stated that a US tour is in the works. Can you share any details on that?

Kat Dahlia: We’re working on it right now. As far as shows, I have the Los Dells Festival in September and Austin City Limits in October.  

FIERCE: You started singing and rapping when you were a child, eight years old. What is it like for you, today, two decades later, at age 28, looking back and knowing you’ve realized those childhood dreams through a rollercoaster journey in the industry and are now doing it on your own terms?

Kat Dahlia: In a lot of ways it still feels like the beginning, like I’m still eight years old. I’m writing my best music yet, and the next biggest song is yet to come.

FIERCE: Talking about what’s to come, what are you most excited about what’s next for you and why should people be paying attention?

Kat Dahlia: It’s on them, whatever they want to do, but me, personally, I’m most excited about sharing music already. It’s been too long. I’m also excited about finally putting out a message that I 100 percent believe in and own. 

FIERCE: And what message is that? 

Kat Dahlia: Just do good, be myself, stay authentic and try to just be good to myself. 

Read: Meet Kim Viera, The Nuyorican Powerhouse Singer Soaring Over Tropical Beats

Cardi B Stands Behind Bernie Sanders Because Of His Desire To Fight For All People And Their Rights

Entertainment

Cardi B Stands Behind Bernie Sanders Because Of His Desire To Fight For All People And Their Rights

iamcardib / Instagram

Cardi B refuses to be boxed into any archetype. The Afro-Dominican rapper has used her platform in the past to talk about the injustices of America’s healthcare system. This Monday, she effectively put her weight behind Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders by telling her 6.7 million Twitter followers that she feels “really sad” about “how we let him down in 2016.”

Claro, Cardi B’s endorsement of the progressive Democratic socialist candidate has ignited a firestorm of responses from fans and haters alike. 

In a single tweet, Cardi acknowledged the authenticity of Bernie’s platform–which has remained consistent throughout decades of politics.

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Often, voters feel isolated from politics because political speech is too pedantic to resonate with. Cardi was speaking from the heart of America when she said that Bernie’s issues are not a “front” for a campaign to win. She believes Bernie’s passion to creating a safer America for all is genuine.

Bernie Sanders narrowly lost the Democratic primary to Hillary Clinton in 2016.

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It’s no secret that, after Trump won, the Democratic party experienced a deep disillusionment over party ideals. Bernie brought a much more progressive stance than establishment Democrats, advocating for free healthcare as an American right, free college tuition and equality for all. The Senator thanked her in a tweet that read, “Thank you @iamcardib! Our fight for justice is far from over and we are not giving up.” 

The conversation continued after a critic pointed out that Cardi has once complained about high taxes.

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The Twitter user seemed to think that Cardi’s disdain for high taxes would be in direct conflict with Bernie Sanders’s outspoken platform to raise taxes on the rich to effectively redistribute to the masses in the form of free healthcare and education. He was wrong.

His didn’t get away with going up against Cardi and Bernie without a good dog walk from Latinas in charge.

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It’s the name of the game–perception is a reality in politics. The perks of being a civilian are being able to say things like “que chinguen a su madre” to anyone who twists your words. 

Cardi clapped back by saying that she’s here for high taxes, but only if she can see her dollar effect positive change.

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With a large chunk of our taxes going to the military, subsidizing the dying dairy and meat industries, and a clear lack of funds directed towards the humanitarian crisis on the border, Cardi wants someone in power who will improve the quality of life for as many Americans as possible. She wants to see what she’s paying for.

Of course, the sexism and racism came out to play in the comment threads.

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This user claimed that “hood rats” are implicitly lacking the “mentality” to have political opinions. “I wish some people would stay in their lane,” is tantamount to someone like Trump telling The Squad to “go back” to “where they came from.” It implies that you’re born into the limits on your own agency, and it’s toxic thinking.

The Bardi Gang came through to defend Cardi’s right to use her political voice.

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Cardi B is an Afro-Latina woman who worked her way to fame by stripping at the club across from her high school. Her work has invited criticism from conservative pundits, claiming her body and sex-positive messaging is anti-feminist. As a black woman taking up space in the world, everything she does is overanalyzed.

 They also offered her support amidst all the “hate.”

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Other politically invested folks came through with comments like “Girl read about ELIZABETH WARREN,” and “Kamala2020 get down read up on her.” Sprinkled throughout were messages of support for Bernie, happy that 6.7 million followers could #FeelTheBern thanks to Cardi.

Cardi might be a celebrity, but she’s also a constituent who wants to see her taxes put an end to bankruptcy by medical and student loan debt.

Credit: @iamcardib / Instagram

With 2020 around the corner, campaign season is in full swing again. As always, we are mitú and we want everyone to educate themselves about every candidate and get out the vote!

Selena Gomez Is Fighting To Make Sure That Everyone Can Speak Openly And Honestly About Getting Help For Their Mental Health

Entertainment

Selena Gomez Is Fighting To Make Sure That Everyone Can Speak Openly And Honestly About Getting Help For Their Mental Health

selenagomez / Instagram

Selena Marie Gomez (born in Texas in 1992) has been in the public eye for as long as she can remember. She has been a role model for young girls as a singer and an actress and now is involved in more risqué films such as Spring Breakers, a delirious film by indie filmmaker Harmony Korine. Besides having a strong onscreen persona, Gomez has been in relationships with the likes of Justin Bieber, which of course turned the paparazzi attention and cameras to her. Suddenly, when she was barely a teenager her every move was being followed. Her life was sort of predestined to be great when she was named after the great late Selena Quintanilla. However, she has had to deal with divorce (her parents separated when she was five-years-old) and with weak health, as she was diagnosed with lupus, an auto-immune disease, which ultimately forced her to get a kidney transplant. She found strength in her mom. Gomez has said that her mother “was really strong around me. Having me at 16 had to have been a big responsibility. She gave up everything for me, had three jobs, supported me, sacrificed her life for me.” That must provide so much strength for a woman of barely 26 but who has gone through more in her lifetime than many 50-year-olds.

This must not be easy for anyone, even more so for a Latino woman. Gomez knows that she has a microphone and that she can get to other girls and women. “The older I get, the prouder I am to be a woman in the industry. When I was younger and running around all the time on tour, I don’t think I took the time to notice how being a woman in my position is really a gift. I want to make sure I utilize all that power,” the young Latina star told Into the GlossShe has used this position of privilege to raise awareness on mental health issues, including suicide prevention, both as a celebrity and as a producer. She is also a supporter of associations such as Make A Wish (which grants children diagnosed with life-threatening conditions), the Alliance for Children’s Rights and the Ryan Seacrest Foundation. 

Selena Gomez fights for friendships above anything else: girl power.

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Gomez values friendship and spreads the word. She has such loyal friends that one even donated a kidney when Gomez needed a transplant. She says: “People are put into your life for seasons, for different reasons, and to teach you lessons”: Selena, we couldn’t agree more.

She gets politically enraged when it matters.

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Gomez knows that a lot of mental health issues concerning young women are related to the policing of their sexuality and reproductive rights. She gets political when she feels the need to, particularly with issues concerning the mental health and general wellbeing of young women like herself. 

She asks her fans to be strong, but to also look for help when needed.

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Her advice: “I’ve learned there’s power deep down inside yourself, and you can find it when you don’t give up on yourself and when you ask for help.” This is so real it hurts: even someone like her, who in the eyes of her fans might seem to have it all, needs to be humble and honest in reaching out to others when the world seems bleak. There is always someone who cares if you are OK. 

She stands up for migrants.

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Gomez doesn’t get political often, but when she does she always stands up for the minority communities. She has been a vocal advocate for migrant rights and the rights of women. She even wore a 1973 necklace as one of very few Latina celebs speaking up for abortion rights.

She even takes a stand from DACA recipients and Dreamers.

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She has used her social media accounts, which have followers in the millions, to call her fans to action. She is clearly showing the world that she does care and she is paying attention. 

She delivers a message of self-acceptance, which led her to produce 13 Reasons Why.

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Gomez’s mother, Amanda, had her when she was just 16, and then raised her by herself. She was also the one that gave Gomez the book on which the Netflix show 13 Reasons Why is based. The show was controversial because it spoke about mental health issues and suicide, topics that are fundamental to discuss with young vulnerable populations but that remain a taboo. However, Gomez’s message is optimistic. She has said: “I promise you that each and every one of you is made to be who you are and that’s what’s so attractive and beautiful.” Preach! 

13 Reasons Why put mental health issues at the forefront of public media debate.

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“I get it all day, every day, that I’m not sexy enough, or I’m not cool enough, or if I did this I would be accepted… I promise you that each and every one of you is made to be who you are and that’s what’s so attractive and beautiful. Please don’t forget that, even when it gets hard,” she said in an interview for the Huffington PostAnd this is exactly the message that she conveys in her project. Taking on Jay Asher’s literary world, she and the series creative team were able to show mental health and suicide from all possible angles. 

She takes fame with a grain of salt.

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She has been famous for a big portion of her life, but she knows that todo es pasajero, and that at the end who you are does not depend merely on adulation: “You are not defined by an Instagram photo, by a ‘Like,’ by a comment. That does not define you.”

Body positivity is her mantra.

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“I feel very empowered and confident and comfortable with where I am. And I think it took me a long time to get there because, you know, the past year was so interesting because I’ve never been body-shamed before… I did gain weight, but I don’t care,” she said at On Air with Ryan SeacrestThis is a great, positive message for someone who is followed by millions of young women throughout the world, particularly in a day and age when standards of beauty are twisted and self-love is hard to achieve. 

She is an active advocate of girl power.

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Perhaps following the example of her mother, who basically raised her alone while holding down as many jobs as necessary to make ends meet, Gomez says: “I don’t want to become little or hurt or a victim. I want to be strong for girls…I just want them to know that there is an option of standing up for yourself.” Additionally, she was named a United Nations Ambassador in 2009, and in this role, she has worked particularly in empowering vulnerable children by helping provide clean water, education, and medical services. 

You learn from your mistakes.

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Perhaps most importantly, she knows that many see her as a role model and that this brings a huge deal of responsibility. “I’m human, I’m not perfect. I make mistakes all the time, but I guess my job is to keep those mistakes to myself, which I’m already fine doing and just try to be the best I can be for those kids,” she told E! Online.

READ: “13 Reasons Why” Does Much More Than Glorify Suicide, Selena Gomez Explained

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