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From Punk To Reggaeton, Here Are 12 Acts To Keep You Eye On In 2017

It feels truer and truer every day: the most exciting music, across sound and continent, is being made by Latinx voices. It’s not that the rest of the world is just starting to take notice of the massive Latin genre — it’s that it’s become unavoidable. When looking for the trendsetters, from political punk powerhouses to future rap superstars, we realized there were many, many innovative musicians coming from Latin backgrounds. Here are few to keep an eye out for in 2017.

Alegría Rampante

Credit: Ángel Flores / Alegría Rampante / Facebook

Alegría Rampante (“Rampant Joy” in English) is the project of Eduardo Alegría, former co-founder of Superaquello. Rampante is his pop project, one both theatrical and outspokenly queer in nature. All of his beautiful songs about love and loss songs manage to resonate with both his queer and his Puerto Rican identities.

Listen: “Armando”

Audri Nix

Credit: Audri Nix / Facebook

Boricua rapper Audri Nix has been around the underground hip hop scene for the last two years or so, first piquing the interest of sites like Vibe with her hauntingly earnest tracks “1,000 MPH” and “Veneno.” After taking a break to deal with her depression, she released an EP titled “El Nuevo Orden Vol. 1” last year. Her R&B-tinged music reflects that sorrow and the result is something that will make her fans feel a little less alone. We expect more beautiful things from her, and soon!

Listen: “Inevitable”

Maluma

Credit: Maluma / Facebook

Colombian singer Maluma is already huge in Latin America, but 2017 is the year that his fame translates stateside. He’s hitting the road in the U.S. for the first time this spring and we anticipate his world takeover soon after. Check out “El Perdedor” if you haven’t already — 500 million plays do not lie.

Listen: “El Perdedor”

The Tracks

Credit: The Tracks / Facebook

Los Angeles has been a hotbed for indie rock for a while now — there’s something very attractive about trying to enter the unforgiving music industry on your own terms, with your own DIY ethics, under the shadow of the Hollywood skyline. Though the city’s population is nearly half Latinx, garage rock is still a very white subgenre. But The Tracks, a band out of Boyle Heights, is changing that. With their debut album due later this year, we know they’re going to be a very important band for Latinx people both in and out of L.A.

Listen: “Go Out Tonight”

Helado Negro

Credit: Helado Negro / Facebook

Helado Negro, the electronic pop project of Roberto Carlos Lange, has caught the attention of major mainstream press outlets like Rolling Stone and SPIN while maintaining a distinctly personal feeling. “It’s My Brown Skin” and “Young, Latin & Proud” prove that other worldly experimental pop can be resonant in a tumultuous racial climate.

Listen: “It’s My Brown Skin”

Downtown Boys

Credit: Downtown Boys / Facebook

Recently referred to as America’s most exciting punk band in Rolling Stone, Providence, Rhode Island’s Downtown Boys operate in a crucial bilingual space. All of their tracks deal directly with social and political injustices. Singer Victoria Ruiz’s refrain of “She is brown! She is smart!” in the song “Monstro” might be the most important punk lyric of the last five years. Here’s hoping for a new album in 2017.

Listen: “Monstro”

Eduardo F. Rosario

Credit: Eduardo F. Rosario / Facebook

This one is not for the faint of heart. Eduardo F. Rosario is an experimental musician based in San Juan — his noise textures are mechanical and cold, a sound not normally associated with warm Caribbean climates. There’s a certain physicality to his music that can make it feel disorienting but controlled. This is the closest you’ll get to hearing visual art.

Listen: “Obsolescencia Programada 4”

Maria Usbeck

Credit: Maria Usbeck / Facebook

Maria Usbeck released “Amparo” last year, an album sung almost entirely in Spanish and produced by indie celebrity Caroline Polachek of Chairlift. Of the Spanish-language acts on this list, this one has probably enjoyed the most indie press for its soft soundscapes and its release on beloved label Cascine Records. There’s a really attractive fragility to the release, one that makes use excited to see where Usbeck goes next.

Listen: “Moai y Yo”

Bomba Estéreo

Li y Simón @lifeisbeautiful playing 5.30 bomba estéreo in da House ????✌?️✌?

A photo posted by Bomba Estéreo (@bombaestereo) on


Colombian band Bomba Estéreo are well on their way to major mainstream fame. It’s all about “Soy Yo,” the lead single from their album Amanecer out last year. You might recognize it from a certain Target commercial that runs in Anglo-phonic spaces… shouldn’t be long before they’re infiltrating American pop radio.

Listen: “Soy Yo”

MNTJY

Credit: MNTJY / Facebook

MNTJY is an up-and-coming Costa Rican producer who first landed on our radar when he dropped a mixtape last year via Bueno Aires art collective I NEED SPONSORS. Most recently, he’s dropped “me calientas” and tagged it “elegant reggaeton.” It feels like the perfect moniker for this sound — it’s a bit sultry for the club, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the perfect song to get down to.

Listen: “her note”

Porter

Credit: Porter / Facebook

Porter hail from Guadalajara, Mexico and have already had a long and industrious career; they’re on this list is because of their recent reunion. If you missed them the first time around, it’s time to revisit the band. It’s been three years since 2014’s “Moctezuma” and it’s about time for them to drop a new full-length, so now is the time to do a deep dive into their older discography.

Listen: “La China”

Las Robertas

Credit: Las Robertas / Facebook

Las Robertas are the lo-fi garage pop acts of every indie Latinx’s dreams — the band hails from San Jose, Costa Rica and in the last few years have become festival staples, hitting South by Southwest, NRML, Primavera Sound and others. Their last EP, “The Feel,” dropped in 2015, so new recordings can be expected soon. Thank goodness!

Listen: “Marlene”


READ: 11 Music Bands that Own the Streets of LA

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America Ferrera Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Working On ‘Gotta Kick It Up’ With Sweet IG Post

Entertainment

America Ferrera Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Working On ‘Gotta Kick It Up’ With Sweet IG Post

It has been 20 years since America Ferrera’s dream of becoming an actor back true. She took to Instagram to reflect on the moment that her dream started to come true and it is a sweet reminder that anyone can chase their dreams.

America Ferrera shared a sweet post reflecting on the 20th anniversary of working on “Gotta Kick It Up!”

“Gotta Kick It Up!” was one of the earliest examples of Latino representation so many of us remember. The movie follows a school dance team trying to be the very best they could possibly be. The team was down on their luck but a new teacher introduces them to a different kind of music to get them going again.

After being introduced to Latin beats, the dance team is renewed. It taps into a cultural moment for the Latinas on the team and the authenticity of the music makes their performances some of the best.

While the movie meant so much to Latino children seeing their culture represented for the first time, the work was a major moment for Ferrera. In the Instagram post, she gushes over the celebrities she saw on the lot she was working on. Of course, anyone would be excited to see Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt hanging out. Yet, what stands out the most is Ferrera’s own excitement to realize that she can make money doing what she loves most.

“I wish I could go back and tell this little baby America that the next 20 years of her life will be filled with unbelievable opportunity to express her talent and plenty of challenges that will allow her to grow into a person, actress, producer, director, activist that she is very proud and grateful to be. We did it baby girl. I’m proud of us,” Ferrera reflects.

Watch the trailer for “Gotta Kick It Up!” here.

READ: America Ferrera’s “Superstore” Is Going To Get A Spanish-Language Adaptation In A Win For Inclusion

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This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

Entertainment

This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

On a recent episode of ABC’s game show To Tell The Truth, three celebrity panelists were tasked to uncover the identity of a real mariachi singer.

Each contender embodied “non-traditional” attributes of mariachi culture either through physical appearance or language barriers, leaving the panelists stumped.

When it came time for the big reveal, with a humble smile 53-year-old Timoteo “El Charro Negro” stood up wowing everyone. Marveled by his talents, Timoteo was asked to perform unveiling his smooth baritone voice.

While not a household name in the U.S., his career spans over 25 years thriving on the catharsis of music.

Timoteo “El Charro Negro” performing “Chiquilla Linda” on Dante Night Show in 2017.

Originally from Dallas, Texas, Timoteo, born Timothy Pollard, moved to Long Beach, California with his family when he was eight years old. The move to California exposed Pollard to Latin culture, as the only Black family in a Mexican neighborhood.

As a child, he recalled watching Cantinflas because he reminded him of comedian Jerry Lewis, but musically he “got exposed to the legends by chance.”

“I was bombarded by all the 1960s, ’70s, and ’50s ranchera music,” Timoteo recalls to mitú.

The unequivocal passion mariachi artists like Javier Solis and Vicente Fernandez possessed heavily resonated with him.

“[The neighbors] always played nostalgic music, oldies but goodies, and that’s one thing I noticed about Mexicans,” Timoteo says. “They can be in their 20s but because they’ve grown up listening to the oldies it’s still very dear to them. That’s how they party.”

For as long as he can remember, Pollard “was born with the genetic disposition to love music,” knowing that his future would align with the arts.

After hearing Vicente Fernandez sing “Lástima Que Seas Ajena,” an awakening occurred in Pollard. While genres like hip-hop and rap were on the rise, Pollard’s passion for ranchera music grew. It was a moment when he realized that this genre best suited his big voice.

Enamored, Pollard began to pursue a career as a Spanish-language vocalist.

El Charro Negro
Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

At 28, Timoteo began learning Spanish by listening and singing along to those artists he adored in his youth.

“When I decided that I wanted to be a mariachi, I didn’t think it was fair to exploit the culture and not understand the language,” he says. “If I’m going to sing, I need to be able to communicate with my audience and engage with them. I need to understand what I’m saying because it was about honor and respect.”

Pollard began performing local gigs after picking up the language in a matter of months. He soon attracted the attention of “Big Boy” Radio that adorned him the name Timoteo “El Charro Negro.”

Embellishing his sound to highlight his Black heritage, Pollard included African instruments like congas and bongos in his orchestra. Faintly putting his own spin on a niche genre, Pollard avoided over-saturating the genre’s sound early in his career.

Embraced by his community as a beloved mariachi, “El Charro Negro” still encountered race-related obstacles as a Black man in the genre.

“There are those [in the industry] who are not in the least bit thrilled to this day. They won’t answer my phone calls, my emails, my text messages I’ve sent,” he says. “The public at large hasn’t a problem with it, but a lot of the time it’s those at the helm of decision making who want to keep [the genre] exclusively Mexican.”

“El Charro Negro” persisted, slowly attracting fans worldwide while promoting a message of harmony through his music.

In 2007, 12 years into his career, Pollard received a golden ticket opportunity.

El Charro Negro
Pollard (left) seen with legendary Mexican artist Vicente Fernandez (right) in 2007. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In a by-chance encounter with a stagehand working on Fernandez’s tour, Pollard was offered the chance to perform onstage. The singer was skeptical that the offer was legit. After all, what are the chances?

The next day Pollard went to his day job at the time and said, “a voice in my head, which I believe was God said, ‘wear your blue velvet traje tonight.'”

That evening Pollard went to a sold-out Stockton Area where he met his idol. As he walked on the stage, Pollard recalls Fernandez insisting that he use his personal mic and band to perform “De Que Manera Te Olvido.”

“[Fernandez] said he did not even want to join me,” he recollects about the show. “He just was kind and generous enough to let me sing that song on his stage with his audience.”

The crowd applauded thunderously, which for Pollard was a sign of good things to come.

El Charro Negro
Timoteo “El Charro Negro” with Don Francisco on Don Francisco Presenta in 2011. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In 2010, he released his debut album “Me Regalo Contigo.” In perfect Spanish, Pollard sings with great conviction replicating the soft tones of old-school boleros.

Unraveling the rollercoaster of relationships, heart-wrenchingly beautiful ballads like “Me Regalo Contigo” and “Celos” are his most streamed songs. One hidden gem that has caught the listener’s attention is “El Medio Morir.”

As soon as the track begins it is unlike the others. Timoteo delivers a ’90s R&B love ballad in Spanish, singing with gumption as his riffs and belts encapsulate his unique sound and story.

Having appeared on shows like Sabado Gigante, Don Francisco Presenta, and Caso Cerrado in 2011, Timoteo’s career prospered.

Timoteo hasn’t released an album since 2010 but he keeps his passion alive. The singer has continued to perform, even during the Covid pandemic. He has high hopes for future success and original releases, choosing to not slow down from his destined musical journey.

“If God is with me, who can be against me? It may not happen in a quick period of time, but God will make my enemies my footstool,” he said.

“I’ve continued to be successful and do some of the things I want to do; maybe not in a particular way or in particular events, but I live in a very happy and fulfilled existence.”

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