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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. 

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

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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