Honoring Latinx Heritage Month with Music Essentials

Puerto Rican trap and Reggaeton star Benito Antonio Martinez Ocasio, nicknamed "Bad Bunny," has become one of the most well known Latinx artists worldwide.

Puerto Rican trap and Reggaeton star Benito Antonio Martinez Ocasio, nicknamed "Bad Bunny," has become one of the most well known Latinx artists worldwide. He was working as a supermarket bagger when he started uploading songs to SoundCloud. When Cardenas Marketing Network signed Bad Bunny for his back-to-back hit songs "Soy Peor" and "Tu No Metes Cabra," he received considerable amounts of attention that set him on a path to success. He began collaborating with celebrity artists like J. Balvin and Prince Royce, and his following albums consistently maintained number one on the Latin Billboard charts, winning him several Grammys. However, his main significance and uniqueness come from his continued, headline-worthy social and political activism. Bad Bunny has consistently redefined gender norms in Reggaeton, a genre often filled with toxic masculinity. His participation in protests asking for the Puerto Rican governor's resignation while chanting #RickyRenuncia, and his homage to Alexa Negron Luciano where he wore a satin skirt and a t-shirt that read, "They killed Alexa, not a man in a skirt," directly condemned transphobia in Puerto Rican society. Bad Bunny's lyrics, while drawing on catchy Caribbean and American-hip hop influences, hold messages that resonate with a generation that's still discovering itself. He has become an icon in the eyes of millions during an era when we are reinventing social paradigms to create a more accepting world.

Considered to be one of the greatest performers of Caribbean music in Colombia, Joe Arroyo was a salsa and tropical music singer. His songs were influenced by his African descent, written with social criticism in mind, and successful in giving a voice to the marginalized black communities of Colombia. They shine a light on the history of Afro-Caribbean oppression, by highlighting slavery and racism. Despite being a Colombian native, Arroyo produced songs that filled with Caribbean rhythm with hints of Jamaican Reggae and Haitian Merengue. His song "La Rebelion," produced in 1986, is one of his most symbolic compositions, spotlighting African slave resistance under the abuse of European colonizers. The song's chorus: "no le pegue a la Negra," or "don’t hit the black woman," the line for which it is most famous, tells the story of a slave who escapes a plantation. He considered this song as his hymn and that it had been on his mind for years before being recorded. The song was originally made by Arroyo in 1978 and given to another singer Joe Urquijo because he did not find a use for it at the time. When Arroyo did record it himself, six years later, it became an immediate success and propelled his career for years to come. Arroyo left a significant legacy on Latin Music by pioneering the combination of different sounds such as Salsa, Cumbia, Reggae, and African rhythms. "La Rebelion" is forever remembered, celebrated, and danced to for its rhythm and lyrics that touch on African diaspora, liberty, and slavery.

Los Enanitos Verdes is an Argentinian rock band, formed in the city of Mendoza in 1979, that claimed international fame, especially in Spanish-speaking countries "Lamento Boliviano," was one of their most successful songs and translated, it means "Bolivian lament." "Bolivian lament" is a common colloquial phrase heard in Argentina that refers to its bordering country, Bolivia's, history of economic and social crises that caused mass emigration. The song, inspired by Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novel Crónica de Una Muerte Anunciada, includes lyrics like "soy como una roca, palabras no me tocan," or "I'm like a rock, words don’t touch me" to compare the protagonist's journey to the devastating Bolivian situation. In the storyline, the protagonist constantly has bad relations with women. The song laments his unfortunate position and emphasizes his profound misery through the Bolivian comparison. Another interesting phrase to note is "nena no te peines en la cama," or "darling, don’t brush your hair on the bed." These lyrics are repeated in the song and are based on a common superstition originating from Marquez's novel. The story reveals that when women brush their hair, they attract attention from men and therefore expresses that such a suggestion of beauty would set back sea travelers. "Lamento Boliviano" continues to have a special place in the hearts of many Spanish-speaking people. By incorporating popular sayings and Latinx history into music, the song, even after more than 40 years, continues to be one of the most successful pieces of Spanish rock music.

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