Whether your realized it or not, we’re right in the thick of National Hispanic Heritage Month, the heritage month so rad, they decided to awkwardly situate it between two months. In any case, from September 15- October 15, we’re joining the rest of the good ol’ U-S-A in giving love to Hispanic history.
We spent a lot of time here at MTV Iggy showcasing the latest talents from around Latin America, so to switch things up, we decided to ask some of our favorite cutting-edge artists to shout out other artists from Latin America who have inspired them. Behold their responses…
“Ismael Rivera, is a Puerto Rican salsa artist. He was one of the first black musicians to get on TV and on the radio in PR, celebrating Afro-Puerto Rican music and celebrating being black, which was taboo.
He also had a deep connection with Panama. In Portobello, on the Caribbean coast, there’s a statue of the Black Christ of the Nazarene, which we mention in the song ‘Vengo de Panama‘ off our debut EP, Chancletas y Camisetas Bordada. Ismael used to visit the church in Portobello. It’s a long journey which many people take each year on October 21st. Raka Dun’s father used to go on that journey every year, too.
Also, Ismael spent months at a time in Panama and shouted out the country many times on songs, including a song about The Black Christ called ‘El Nazareno‘. He was also baptized as el ‘Brujo de Borinquen’ in Panama and today, there’s two statues of him in the country: in Colon and Chorrillo.
In the song ‘El Negro Bembón,’ Ismael recounts the killing of a black dude for having big lips: ‘Mataron el negro bembom’. There’s a bit of dark humor because it’s from the perspective of the reporter, who asks the killer why he did it. He replies, ‘because he had big lips’. What’s funny is that the reporter himself has big lips and has to hide them. For us, Ismael and this song are a celebration of Afro-Latinos all over the world.”
Símon Mejia: “Joe Arroyo, RIP, has been a huge musical influence on us, because his way of reinterpreting the music of the Caribbean was totally original and cutting-edge for the time. The musical legacy he left and extraordinary life experiences he created will be a huge part of the Colombian musical consciousness for the rest of history.”
Li Saumet: “It’s kind of obvious I would pick Joe Arroyo, being that he’s tattooed on my arm. We’re inspired by the way he made a world of new textures in his music by mixing African and Caribbean elements, and giving a really strong musical identity to the coast.”
Juaneco y Su Combo
“The so called ‘psychedelic cumbia’ made in the late sixties in the Peruvian Amazon is the hidden treasure of our musical heritage. And the most important band from that period is Juaneco y Su Combo, an ‘electric orchestra’ founded by keyboardist Juan Wong and led by its guitarist, the great Noe Fachín.
The blend of frenetic rhythms, elegant guitar riffs and jungle imagery blew our minds away when we first heard it while on tour in Tarapoto, a thousand kilometers from Lima inside the Peruvian jungle, in the early years of the band. Their impact on us was so huge that we began to learn and play their songs, and even recorded a whole album trying to catch their spirit and make it accessible to younger audiences.
Almost the entire band died in a plane crash in 1978. For our album Cumbia, we invited the surviving original singer Wilindoro Cacique to participate. It became our first hit record in Peru. We owe Juaneco y Su Comba not only for their beautiful music, but the opportunity to get to wider audiences.”
“The marimba is the musical instrument and national symbol of Guatemala. That’s why I’m proud of the work that the master Lester Godínez has done since 1970 to keep the history and tradition alive and intact, as well as the national and international spread of the Guatemalan marimba.”
Luis Alberto Spinetta
“My biggest Latin American influence comes from Argentinean songwriter Luis Alberto Spinetta. He was such a great lyricist, and a lot of Astro’s lyrical forms have come directly from his poetry styles. He was so creative and imaginative, transforming simple things into huge stories. Definitely an impressive role model for any psychedelic songwriter.
His music was also an incredible thing to listen to. From him I’ve learned to use strange guitar chords without making the song sound too odd or incomprehensible. I’ve heard he was a great man too, never selling his soul to the media, and always giving his best on stage and in the studio. It’s a shame people like this can’t live forever.”
“Eduardo Mateo has been on rotation for a long time. The album Mateo Solo Bien Se Lame has all these songs that are ear worms. They burrow deeper and deeper in your brain, and they start painting the walls inside your brain all these great colors and pictographs trying to tell you in the simplest way that these little songs have their own life. The song ‘LaLa’ always penetrated any mood I was in.”
When I was young, me and my neighbors played ‘singers.’ They always chose songs by Paulina Rubio, Thalía, and so on, and I always chose Selena. For me, we was the the s**t. ‘La Carcacha’ was one of my favorites and I always won! All her songs were my hits, and she inspired me a lot. She made me feel that one day I’d be able to achieve the same success. If she was still alive, I would definitely seek her out to sing with me!”
“I was raised listening to Los Wawanco, my parents were big fans. I remember that on Saturdays we would all get together at my godmothers house across the street and we would always dance to Los Wawanco. My dad was really shy and he would never really dance, but one of the only things that he would actually dance to was when they put on Los Wawanco and he and my mom would dance together, hugging tightly.
I always have that happy memory of Los Wawanco because my parents loved to dance to it. Pure cumbia – pure happiness! They are a really diverse group, with musicians hailing from Costa Rica, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Colombia. They have been around since the ’50s, and are extremely important in the cumbia scene all throughout the Americas.”
Who is your Hispanic musical hero? Leave us a comment below.