T’is the Season to Give… Music

December Playlist Highlights

Song

iTunes

Artist

Category

Origin

Un Loco Con Una Moto Pupy y Los Que Son Son Salsa Cuba
El Capitolio El Capitolio - Latino 46 - Salsa Bachata Merengue Reggaeton Azucar Negra Salsa Cuba
La Yuka Charanga Habanera Salsa Cuba
El Alboroto El Alboroto - Bailá Salsa Mauro Castillo Salsa Colombia
Ven A Mí Rumba Diego Gale Salsa Colombia
Salsa Pa’l Congreso Salsa Pa'l Congreso - Maria Chino Espinoza Salsa Costa Rica
Ayer Ayer - Ayer - Single Opalo Bachata Dominican Republic
Abrazame Amor Abrazame amor - Mi Regreso Luis Miguel Del Amargue Bachata Dominican Republic
Amaneció Amaneció - Amaneció H.O.M. Merengue Electronico Dominican Republic
Ayantame Ayantame (feat. El Potro Alvarez) - Ayantame (feat. El Potro Alvarez) - Single Ilegales Merengue Electronico Dominican Republic
Pata Pata Shikisha Cha-Cha-Cha South Africa

 

With Christmas just a few weeks away I thought I would use this blog entry to suggest a few CD’s that would make great presents for yourself or someone you know who is a lover of Latin music.

 

Album: Salsa – Un Homenaje a El Gran Combo

Artist: Various

Recommended dance tracks:

  • Ojos Chinos
  • Un Verano En Nueva York

Where to get it:

  • Digital: iTunes
  • CD: Descarga.com

El Gran Combo hardly needs an introduction being one of the biggest salsa bands of all time.  Their origins date back fifty years during which time they have released dozens of albums.  This album pays tribute to the legendary group and includes many of their most famous songs some performed by El Gran Combo themselves but many others performed by a range of talented artists including La India, Issac Delgado and Willie Colon.  If you are a fan of salsa you have probably heard many of these songs before but it’s always refreshing to hear a familiar song that has been given new life by another artist.

 

Album: ¿De Que Estamos Hablano?

Artist: Elio (Elito) Reve Jr y Su Charanga

Recommended dance tracks:

  • ¿De Que Estamos Hablando?
  • Ya Sé Cantar, Ya Sé Bailar

Where to get it:

  • Digital: CubaMusic.com
  • CD: Descarga.com

Elito Reve’s father was the late Elio Reve who started Orquesta Reve in 1956.  Over the years this band has included a whos’s who list of some of the top names in the Cuban music scene.  Musicians such as Chucho Valdés, Juan Formell (Los Van Van), Cesar Pedroso (Pupy y Los Que Son Son), and Juan Carlos Alfonso (Dan Den) have at one point or another been part of Orquesta Reve.  The band has been ground breaking since its inception and Elito has carried on that creativity after taking over the band in 1997.  This is their latest offering and makes a fantastic edition to any timba (salsa) collection.

 

Album: A Masterpiece Collection

Artist: Grupo Xtasys

Recommended dance tracks:

  • No Puedo Creer
  • Antes

Where to get it:

  • Digital: iTunes
  • CD: Amazon

Hailing from New York City, this group has been together since 2009.  I happened upon this, their first, CD a few months ago and was really impressed by the number of great songs on the album.  Their sound is fresh, urban and very dancable.

 

Questions, comments, requests? Send me an email or leave a comment.

 

Hasta la próxima 

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MPop – Merengue for the Masses

February Playlist Highlights

Song

 

Artist

Category

Origin

Un Monton de Estrallas Un Monton de Estrellas - Guajiro Natural Polo Montañez Salsa Cuba
El Maraquero El Maraquero - La Timba Soy Yo Soneros All Stars Salsa Cuba
Identidad Identidad - Beginner's Guide To Timba Azucar Negra Salsa Cuba
El Mas Rico Beso Guayacán Orquesta Salsa Colombia
En Mi Puertorro Andy Montañez y Julio Voltio Salsa Puerto Rico
Indestructible Indestructible - Indestructible Ray Barretto Salsa USA
Vicio Del Pecado RKM and Ken-Y Bachata Dominican Republic
Entre Tu Amor Y Mi Dolor Entre Tu Amor y Mi Dolor - 2 Grandes de la Bachata, Vol. 3 Yoskar Sarante Bachata Dominican Republic
Ya No Toy Pà Eso Ya No Toy Pa' Eso - Hecho en el Patio Ilegales Merengue Electronico (MPop) Dominican Republic
Bailando Por El Mundo Bailando por el Mundo - The King of Dance Juan Magan ft Pitbull y El Cata Merengue Electronico (MPop) Spain / USA
Mueve la Cadera Proyecto Uno, Reel-to-Real Meren-rap (MPop) Dominican Republic / USA

 

What is MPop?

Originating in rural areas of the Dominican Republic, merengue (which literally translates into whipped eggs or meringue) is a musical style that dates back to the late 1800’s.  In its most basic form, it is made from a collection of 4 instruments; a tambora drum, güira, and marimba box bass for rhythm and either a guitar, banjo or button accordion for the melody.  This simple country music gained popularity over the years and was raised to a level of national importance when it was made the official dance music of the Dominican Republic by General Rafael Trujillo, president/dictator from 1930 to 1961.  Merengue music is built on a 2/4 rhythm, which makes it very easy to dance to.  General Trujillo apparently had two left feet so this easily identifiable beat worked well with his limited dancing abilities.  It’s worth repeating that this simple rhythm is very easy to hear even for people new to Latin dance.  If you want your non-dance friends to enjoy themselves at a Latin club, introduce them to merengue.

Is the traditional form of merengue still around today?  Probably, and while I suspect that you would find it alive and well in many rural areas of the Dominican Republic, when it comes to merengue in an urban setting, the music has evolved.  Artists like Juan Luis Guerra, Elvis Crespo and Olga Tañón have modernized the genre making it accessible to a wider audience.  Not only has merengue been modernized but it has also been “popularized” and this is where the term MPop comes in.

MPop is a catch phrase I use to describe merengue influenced popular music.  This would include such fusions as merengueton, meren-rap, techno-rengue, and merengue electronico.  The fusing of genres happens with many popular musical styles but seems to be especially common with merengue.  The merengue 2/4 rhythm lends itself so well to being blended.  Take the song La Despedida by reggaeton artist Daddy Yankee as an example.  The song has elements of mainstream reggaeton but at its core is a basic 2/4 merengue rhythm.  That rhythm makes the song easy to listen to and easy to dance to and I don’t mean that as a criticism.  I’m a fan of catchy, danceable MPop in general and La Despedida is a great example of it.

I’ve included a few more MPop examples in this month’s play list, one of which dates back to the late 90’s.  It’s juicy meren-rap by the great House/Reggae band, Reel to Real and meren-rap group Projecto Uno.  Unfortunately, Reel to Real isn’t around anymore but Projecto Uno’s Magic Juan is.  You can find one of his MPop songs in January’s blog post.

Comments, questions or music requests?  Send me an email.

Hasta la próxima

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