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Uno-dos-tres, 13 Latin Rhythms That Make Us Bust A Move!

Most stereotypes about Latin American culture tend to be hurtful. We are not lazy, promiscuous or a bunch of free-loaders (quite the contrary: we are hard-working, committed and believe in a fair go for everyone). However, there is a stereotype that is kinda true and certainly amazing: most of us love to hit the dance floor!

Music is essential to Latin American culture and is one of our main cultural exports (just look at Ben Stiller on the above image!). The origin of some of our rhythms are quite interesting. Read the juicy details below and surprise your primos in the next family party. 

1. Salsa

Credit: 8.jpg. Digital image. Latino life.


Like many music genres salsa is a hybrid. Salsa was popularized by Cubans and Puerto Ricans in 1960s New York, who fused Cuban son with popular rhythms like swing. The rest is history. The sinuous moves and catchy songs (based, like soul, on repetition) spread like sunshine in the whole American continent.

You gotta listen to: Rubén Blades (but of course)

Credit: ruben-blades-salsa-768×432. Digital image. Sounds and colours.


We hate to be a bit cliché here, but no one better than the Panamanian salsa master to be the ambassador of this music. His love for culture and music is eternal. 

2. Mambo

Credit: West Side Story. Seven Arts Productions.


Its origin dates to the early twentieth century, when son and danzón Cuban masters started to speed up the tempo and delve into African music territory. Where danzón ends and mambo begins is unclear…. 

You gotta listen to: Dámaso Pérez Prado

Credit: p04xg66j. Digital image. BBC.


1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 maaaaambo. The Cuban from Matanzas was the original Maestro del mambo and revolutionized this music genre by incorporating big band style ensembles. He made his career in Mexico, where he was a common feature in films and popular culture.

3. Lambada

Credit: Giphy. Anonymous.


This is the infamous dance that made thousands of abuelitas cross themselves in the 80s and 90s and proclaim “Jesucristo Salvador!”. This dance has an African origin and was popularized in Brazil. It is a bothered and sweaty joining of bodies. The word means “strong slap” in Portuguese.

You gotta listen to: Aurino Quirino Gonçalves a.k.a Pinduca

Credit: 0306va03pind1. Digital image. O POVO Online.


He is the father of lambada and his quick rhythms popularized the genre even if other groups mixed it with…

4. Bachata

Credit: Tenor. Anonymous.


This type of music originated in the Dominican Republic, a Caribbean nation where Spanish, indigenous and African rhythms collide. Bachata is slow and suave, a mix of son and traditional boleros, romantic songs generally accompanied by guitars. The dance is slow and up close. Sabor! 

You gotta listen to: Prince Royce

Bachata has become a source of identity for Hispanos in the East Coast, where the rhythm is hugely popular. This boy from The Bronx (represent!) is a proud representative of mainstream Latino culture. 

5. Banda

Credit: Rudo y cursi. Warner.


Originally for norther Mexico, this music makes us think of deserts, cowboy hats and boots. However, its origins are quite interesting and actually European. If you listen closely, you will realize that it is very similar to polka! Yes, the music imported by German migrants who made this region of Mexico lindo y querido their home. 

You gotta listen to: Intocable

Credit: IntocableHighway-1500×1000. Digital image. Grupo Intocable.


The Mexican-American band is simply amazing: their lyrics are melancholic and their music is pure kitschy delight. Best of all, you can share it with your amá, tías and abuelas in the upcoming family posadas.

6. Ranchera

Credit: Tenor. @j_m_19


Originally Mexican of course. Ranchera music emerged from the ashes of the Mexican Revolution and was the cornerstone of the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema, where figures such as Pedro Infante and Jorge Negrete became idols. The music touches on the universal themes of loss, rural life and love. Ay, ay, ay. 

You gotta listen to: Chavela Vargas

Credit: Giphy. @remezcla


A Costa Rican dynamo who became a symbol of queerness in a male dominated world. La Vargas could outdrink the most macho mariachis and legend has it that she bedded some Hollywood starlets. She was a true legend. She continued performing well into her old age. 

7. Corridos

Credit: Giphy. @CorridosMX


During and after the Mexican revolution, corrido singers composed troubadour-style songs in which they told the stories of robbers and soldiers. In recent times, corrido singers have used the drug cartels and dealers as their main source of inspiration, which has led some states like Chihuahua to forbid narcocorridos. This is a huge industry in the United States as well. 

You gotta listen to: Los Tigres del Norte

Credit: Tenor. @AntonioLopezGC


This legendary band has been involved in controversies due to the way they seem to glorify narco culture. They have sung about lost love among smugglers, criminal masterminds and Mexican identity. Their accordion and catchy lyrics will such have you dancing. Una camioneta gris, con placas de California

8. Merengue

Credit: vicini-merengue-identity-and-magic. Digital image. folkdancesdr.com


This rhythm is synonym of the Dominican Republic. When it became popular in the 19th century newspapers described it as a threat to high moral standards. Later dictator Victor Trujillo made it the national music and dance of the country. It is happy, fast and catchy as hell. 

You gotta listen to: Juan Luis Guerra

Credit: Tenor. Anonymous.


This amazing musician is simply the ambassador of merengue. His “Bilirrubina” spread all throughout the continent like a happy virus and he has remained at the top for three decades. Sing with me: qusiera ser un pez

9. Cumbia

Credit: Cumbia-2WEB. Digital image. Making Music Magazine.


Its origin is Colombian of course. Like most genres, it is a mix product of processes of colonization. It was originally a courtship dance among indigenous groups, but when it came face to face with African and European rhythms  and instruments such as drums, magic happened.

You gotta listen to: Celso Piña, El maestro del acordeón

Credit: celso-pina-oakland-2. Digital Image. Latin Bay Area.


Colombian cumbia has become popular the world over, and Monterrey, in northern México, is one of the epicenters of cumbia culture. Celso Piña is a master accordion player who has toured the world making gringos, europeans and la raza dance.

10. Tango

Credit: Giphy. @sonymusiccolombia


Tango is the epitome of South American sensuality. Cultivated mainly in the Argentinian capital of Buenos Aires and the Uruguayan Montevideo, this music’s popularity is credited to the great Carlos Gardel, who was in fact born in Tolouse, France. Story goes that the accordions that were used in churches in Germany found their way to bars and brothels in Argentina, where musicians experimented with their high pitch and sustained melancholic notes. 

You gotta listen to: Astor Piazolla

Credit: homenaje-a-astor-piazzolla-en-el-cck-03-695×477. Digital image. Saddler Wells’ Blog.


Sure, Carlos Gardel is the go to classic, but Piazzolla wrote sexy classics in his own right with a much more contemporary sensibility. Find him on Spotify, make yourself some mate tea and relax. 

11. Reggaeton

Credit: Giphy. @am85


Vilified by some due to its often aggressive misogynist lyrics, reggaeton comes out of Puerto Rico. It is a mix of Latin music, hip hop and genres such as reggae (that’s where its name comes from, actually). This rhythm has become perhaps the most popular in the world, even outside Latin America. 

You gotta listen to: Calle 13

The duo from Puerto Rico is as sabroso as it gets, but can also be politically assertive. Even though they know how to set the dance floor on fire they can also sing about migrant rights, US interventionism and boricua identity.

12. Samba

Credit: Giphy. Anonymous


Images of the Rio Carnival in Brazil come to mind. Thousands of people moving their hips to the sound of drums. Samba originates from the forced and illegal migration of African individuals who were sold as slaves. The music originates from current-day Angola and Congo. 

You gotta listen to: Carmen Miranda

Credit: Giphy. @boomunderground

Oldie but goodie Carmen Miranda is perhaps not the best samba singer and dancer, but she had a key role in spreading this rhythm beyond Brazil by migrating to Broadway and Hollywood and becoming one of the first latino icons of US popular culture. 

13. Bossa Nova

Credit: 790248030623. Digital image. Putumayo Music.


This very slow and sensual rhythm became popular in Brazil in the 1960s. It uses instruments such as acoustic guitar, electrical guitar and piano not generally associated with Latin music. Its perfect for slow dancing and relaxing. 

You gotta listen to: Caetano Veloso

Credit: Tenor. Anonymous.


The Brazilian classic singer has a voice that sounds like a smooth piña colada on a steamy Río afternoon. Just so sensual and lush. 

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Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Entertainment

Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Luis Fonsi is kicking off 2021 with a new single. The Puerto Rican superstar premiered the music video for “Vacío” on Feb. 18 featuring rising Boricua singer Rauw Alejandro. The guys put a new spin on the classic “A Puro Dolor” by Son By Four.

Luis Fonsi throws it back to his románticas.

“I called Omar Alfanno, the writer of ‘A Puro Dolo,’ who is a dear friend,” Fonsi tells Latido Music. “I told him what my idea was [with ‘Vacío’] and he loved it. He gave me his blessing, so I wrote a new song around a few of those lines from ‘A Puro Dolor’ to bring back that nostalgia of those old romantic tunes that have been a part of my career as well. It’s a fresh production. It sounds like today, but it has that DNA of a true, old-school ballad.”

The world got to know Fonsi through his global smash hit “Despacito” with Daddy Yankee in 2017. The remix with Canadian pop star Justin Bieber took the song to new heights. That was a big moment in Fonsi’s music career that spans over 20 years.

There’s more to Fonsi than “Despacito.”

Fonsi released his first album, the fittingly-titled Comenzaré, in 1998. While he was on the come-up, he got the opportunity of a lifetime to feature on Christina Aguilera’s debut Latin album Mi Reflejo in 2000. The two collaborated on “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” Fonsi scored multiple Billboard Hot Latin Songs No. 1s in the years that followed and one of the biggest hits was “No Me Doy Por Vencido” in 2008. That was his career-defining romantic ballad.

“Despacito” remains the second most-viewed music video on YouTube with over 7.2 billion views. The hits did not stop there. Later in 2017, he teamed up with Demi Lovato for “Échame La Culpa,” which sits impressively with over 2 billion views.

He’s also appearing on The Voice next month.

Not only is Fonsi working on his new album, but also he’s giving advice to music hopefuls for the new season of The Voice that’s premiering on March 1. Kelly Clarkson tapped him as her Battle Advisor. In an exclusive interview, Fonsi talked with us about “Vacío,” The Voice, and a few of his greatest hits.

What was the experience like to work with Rauw Alejandro for “Vacío”?

Rauw is cool. He’s got that fresh sound. Great artist. Very talented. Amazing onstage. He’s got that great tone and delivery. I thought he had the perfect voice to fit with my voice in this song. We had talked about working together for awhile and I thought that this was the perfect song. He really is such a star. What he’s done in the last couple of years has been amazing. I love what he brought to the table on this song.

Now I want to go through some of your greatest hits. Do you remember working with Christina Aguilera for her Spanish album?

How could you not remember working with her? She’s amazing. That was awhile back. That was like 1999 or something like that. We were both starting out and she was putting out her first Spanish album. I got to sing a beautiful ballad called “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” I got to work with her in the studio and see her sing in front of the mic, which was awesome. She’s great. One of the best voices out there still to this day.

What’s one of your favorite memories of “No Me Doy Por Vencido”?

“No Me Doy Por Vencido” is one of the biggest songs in my career. I think it’s tough to narrow it down just to one memory. I think in general the message of the song is what sticks with me. The song started out as a love song, but it turned into an anthem of hope. We’ve used the song for different important events and campaigns. To me, that song has such a powerful message. It’s bigger than just a love song. It’s bringing hope to people. It’s about not giving up. To be able to kind of give [people] hope through a song is a lot more powerful than I would’ve ever imagined. It’s a very special song.

I feel the message is very relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic we’re living through.

Oh yeah! I wrote that song a long time ago with Claudia Brant, and during the first or second month of the lockdown when we were all stuck at home, we did a virtual writing session and we rewrote “No Me Doy Por Vencido.” Changing the lyrics, kind of adjusting them to this situation that we’re living now. I haven’t recorded it. I’ll do something with it eventually. It’s really cool. It still talks about love. It talks about reuniting. Like the light at the end of the tunnel. It has the hope and love backbone, but it has to do a lot with what we’re going through now.

What do you think of the impact “Despacito” made on the industry?

It’s a blessing to be a part of something so big. Again, it’s just another song. We write these songs and the moment you write them, you don’t really know what’s going to happen with them. Or sometimes you run into these surprises like “Despacito” where it becomes a global phenomenon. It goes No. 1 in places where Spanish songs had never been played. I’m proud. I’m blessed. I’m grateful to have worked with amazing people like Daddy Yankee. Like Justin Bieber for the remix and everyone else involved in the song. My co-writer Erika Ender. The producers Mauricio Rengifo and Andrés Torres. It was really a team effort and it’s a song that obviously changed my career forever.

What was the experience like to work with Demi Lovato on “Echáme La Culpa”?

She’s awesome! One of the coolest recording sessions I’ve ever been a part of. She really wanted to sing in Spanish and she was so excited. We did the song in Spanish and English, but it was like she was more excited about the Spanish version. And she nailed it! She nailed it from the beginning. There was really not much for me to say to her. I probably corrected her once or twice in the pronunciation, but she came prepared and she brought it. She’s an amazing, amazing, amazing vocalist.

You’re going to be a battle advisor on The Voice. What was the experience like to work with Kelly Clarkson?

She’s awesome. What you see is what you get. She’s honest. She’s funny. She’s talented. She’s humble and she’s been very supportive of my career. She invited me to her show and it speaks a lot that she wanted me to be a part of her team as a Battle Advisor for the new season. She supports Latin music and I’m grateful for that. She’s everything you hope she would be. She’s the real deal, a true star, and just one of the coolest people on this planet.

What can we expect from you in 2021?

A lot of new music. Obviously, everything starts today with “Vacío.” This is literally the beginning of what this new album will be. I’ve done nothing but write and record during the last 10 months, so I have a bunch of songs. Great collaborations coming up. I really think the album will be out probably [in the] third or fourth quarter this year. The songs are there and I’m really eager for everybody to hear them.

Read: We Finally Have A Spanish-Language Song As The Most Streamed Song Of All Time

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Lifestyles Of The Rich And Dangerous: Cartels Are Using TikTok To Lure Young People

Things That Matter

Lifestyles Of The Rich And Dangerous: Cartels Are Using TikTok To Lure Young People

If you’ve ever wondered what someone with a bulletproof vest and an AR-15 would look like flossing — the dance, not the method of dental hygiene — apparently the answer to that question can be found on TikTok.

Unfortunately, it’s not as a part of some absurdist sketch comedy or surreal video art installation. Instead, it’s part of a growing trend of drug cartels in Mexico using TikTok as a marketing tool. Nevermind the fact that Mexico broke grim records last year for the number of homicides and cartel violence, the cartels have found an audience on TikTok and that’s a serious cause for concern.

Mexican cartels are using TikTok to gain power and new recruits.

Just a couple of months ago, a TikTok video showing a legit high-speed chase between police and drug traffickers went viral. Although it looked like a scene from Netflix’s Narcos series, this was a very real chase in the drug cartel wars and it was viewed by more than a million people.

Typing #CartelTikTok in the social media search bar brings up thousands of videos, most of them from people promoting a “cartel culture” – videos with narcocorridos, and presumed members bragging about money, fancy cars and a luxury lifestyle.

Viewers no longer see bodies hanging from bridges, disembodied heads on display, or highly produced videos with messages to their enemies. At least not on TikTok. The platform is being used mainly to promote a lifestyle and to generate a picture of luxury and glamour, to show the ‘benefits’ of joining the criminal activities.

According to security officials, the promotion of these videos is to entice young men who might be interested in joining the cartel with images of endless cash, parties, military-grade weapons and exotic pets like tiger cubs.

Cartels have long used social media to shock and intimidate their enemies.

And using social media to promote themselves has long been an effective strategy. But with Mexico yet again shattering murder records, experts on organized crime say Cartel TikTok is just the latest propaganda campaign designed to mask the blood bath and use the promise of infinite wealth to attract expendable young recruits.

“It’s narco-marketing,” said Alejandra León Olvera, an anthropologist at Spain’s University of Murcia, in a statement to the New York Times. The cartels “use these kinds of platforms for publicity, but of course it’s hedonistic publicity.”

Mexico used to be ground zero for this kind of activity, where researchers created a new discipline out of studying these narco posts. Now, gangs in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, and the United States are also involved.

A search of the #CartelTikTok community and its related accounts shows people are responding. Public comments from users such as “Y’all hiring?” “Yall let gringos join?” “I need an application,” or “can I be a mule? My kids need Christmas presents,” are on some of the videos.

One of the accounts related to this cartel community publicly answered: “Of course, hay trabajo para todos,” “I’ll send the application ASAP.” “How much is the pound in your city?” “Follow me on Instagram to talk.” The post, showing two men with $100 bills and alcohol, had more than a hundred comments.

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