Friday, October 09, 2009

Afro-Dominicana: Music from the Other Dominican Republic

A few months ago I blogged about "Regaeton Roundup" on the AfroPop Worldwide radio show. Well, AfroPop just came out with a groundbreaking new program titled Afro-Dominicana: Music from the Other Dominican Republic.

While Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian traditions get a lot of shine on the world stage, and Afro-Puerto Rican traditions have been getting a bit more shine recently, the celebration of Afro-Dominican music and culture has been notably lagging behind.

A few years back reggaeton/hip-hop group Del Patio did a collaboration with Ilú Ayé titled "Lo palo." Ilú Ayé, as usual, did a great job. And I was happy to see an urban music group like Del Patio link themselves to Dominican roots music through their collaboration with Ilú Ayé. I won't say much about the many reasons why I think that production left a lot to be desired. Judge for yourself. I'll just say I'm not feeling the use of Afro-Dominican music as a splash of color on otherwise drab and cliché urban music formulas.

What I'm hoping is that shows like AfroPop's Afro-Dominicana: Music from the Other Dominican Republic and the Quijombo Festival this week in the Bronx and the Afro-Dominican drumming/dance classes organized by The Legacy Circle in Harlem will motivate and challenge urban music artists to do excellent and inspired productions that draw from the roots.

Here's a plug for an artist that does an amazing job at fusing urban and roots music: Rita Indiana. Ok, so Rita might not be primarily a hip-hop or reggaeton artist but she definitely draws from that type of urban music. She's one of the artists featured on AfroPop's Afro-Dominicana show. Here's one of her songs, "Encendía," from her earlier work as part of the duo Miti Miti.

And a more recent song, as frontwoman of Rita Indiana y Los Misterios, titled "El Blu del Pin Pon."

Not that Rita holds all the answers. But she definitely has a great one.

Found two more, for good measure: dembow and palos inflected to boot!

I can't say enough about the lyrics. How can that childhood tale of sharing in "Da pa lo do" be so tender, heartwrenching and hilarious at once?