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While we think that you don’t need a special month to recognize the major impact of Latinx people on the United States, at Radio Menea, we’re always happy for an excuse to put together a dope playlist. 

For the last four years, we’ve been producing our podcast about Latinx music. Each week we bring music from artists in the Latinx diaspora that we love, and discuss how those songs reflect politics and culture. 

While it’s impossible to pick just ten songs to represent such a vast, diverse community, here are a few of our favorites to get you started. 

Quedate Negra – Celia Cruz

There is no way to have a playlist without La Reina, Celia Cruz. As caribeñxs, she’s always high on our lists. This song doesn’t get as much play as some of her other hits (and her catalogue is deep!) but a song with an Afro-Cubana celebrating her Blackness is one not to miss. 

Latinos – Proyecto Uno 

We love a good throwback, especially from our ‘90s childhoods. Dominican-American Merenhouse legends Proyecto Uno were known for hits like El Tiburón, but there’s nothing like waiting for your country shoutout in a Latinx pride song – and one of us may or may not have choreographed a dance with our cousins for a family performance to this one. 

A Puro Dolor – Son by Four

If you had access to a Latinx radio station in the ‘90s, you probably heard this one. These guys became a Christian band later on, but this salsa classic still hits. 

Yo Quiero Bailar – Ivy Queen

We love reggaeton – and it has also been historically dominated by men. Pero Ivy Queen has been holding her own since the ‘90s, leaving no doubt that mujeres have what it takes to thrive in el género. Her catalog is full of gems, pero this consent anthem is an undisputed classic, reminding us that just cuz she likes a little perreo eso no quiere decir que pa la cama voy. Yo soy la que mando! 

Hoja en Blanco – Monchy y Alexandra

There are so many incredible bachata artists, pero we love legendary duo Monchy y Alexandra. This 2007 classic touches on the pain of separation and diaspora and immigration, something that resonates deeply with so many in our community. 

Al Natural – Tego Calderon

When it comes to the OGs of reggaeton, you can’t forget about El Abayarde, El Enemy de los Guasíbiri, the legend Tego Calderón. The Puerto-Rican hip hop artist was central to the development of genre, and has always emphasized his negritud con mucho orgullo.  

Nada – Lido Pimienta, Li Saumet

We love independent artists on our show –and women with badass politics singing about bodily autonomy? SOLD. Lido Pimienta – who has been a fierce advocate for afro-indigenous communities in general and her Wayuu people in particular – is finally getting the shine she deserves, winning Canada’s prestigious Polaris Prize in 2017 and getting a Latin Grammy nomination this year. Lido and Li Saumet, long time member of Bomba Estéreo, shine on this recent collaboration. 

Querida – Juan Gabriel

JuanGa is beloved to so many for his passionate love songs and incredible voice, his flamboyant, sparkling outfits, for flaunting gender norms and biting comebacks for journalists looking to pry into his sexuality. ”Lo que se ve no se pregunta, mijo.”

Nunca Es Suficiente – Natalia LaFourcade, Los Ángeles Azules

While neither of us grew up with much cumbia, we’ve both come to appreciate it as adults. A border-crossing genre with roots in Colombia, there is a long tradition of cumbias across Latin America – from Mexico down to Argentina. This song brings together the old school and the new school with spectacular results. 

El Negro Bembón – Ismael Rivera

You can’t talk about salsa without talking about FANIA–the incredible ‘70s New York City record label that helped create, promote and popularize the genre. We both love salsa, for dancing, for listening, for cleaning, for dancing while cleaning. Ismael Rivera was one of FANIA’s undisputed greats and this song touches on racialized anti-Black violence – a topic which merits much more discussion than the airplay it gets in Latinx communities globally. 

Catch the full playlist here: 

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