2021 Hispanic Heritage Month Playlist
October 4, 2021
We’re back with part two of our Hispanic Heritage Month playlist. Here are some selections that highlight a small part of the diverse kaleidoscope that is the Hispanic and Latinx world. We hope you enjoy these songs of celebration, reflection, lamentation, and pride!
La Jaula de Oro by Los Tigres del Norte
The issue of immigration on the U.S. southern border can become so two-dimensional in our public discourse, that the nuanced lived realities of migrants are often lost. This song, by beloved Norteño band Los Tigres del Norte, paints an honest and heartbreaking picture of the life of an undocumented immigrant living in the United States. The title, which translates to “The Golden Cage,” highlights the internal and external tensions that migrants face when building a new life in an unfamiliar place. The linked video is from the band’s recent live concert that they performed at Folsom State Prison (50 years after Johnny Cash’s famous concert), for both the men’s and women’s facilities. You can check out the documentary on Netflix.
La Negra Tiene Tumbao by Celia Cruz
The Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz, left a significant mark in the music industry thanks to her illustrious 50 year career that made fans all around the world get up and dance. However, her late-career smash hit “La Negra Tiene Tumbao” (which can be roughly translated to “The Black Woman Has Style”) is a standout for its joyous and unapologetic celebration of Black womanhood. Give this one a listen whenever you need an extra dose of azucar in your life!
Breathe (from In the Heights) by Lin-Manuel Miranda
After reimagining the story of the U.S. Founding Fathers in Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda received widespread praise for his gifts of song and lyricism. These skills are seen in another one of his projects, In the Heights, a musical about the lives of several Black and Latinx residents of the Washington Heights neighborhood in New York City. In this production, the song “Breathe” is sung by Nina, a first-generation Latina college student who is returning to her neighborhood after dropping out of Stanford University. It’s a heartfelt reflection on the support and pressure that comes from community, and the struggles faced by many first-generation students. In the Heights was adapted into a movie which was released this past year.
Como La Flor by Selena
Tejano is more than just a musical genre — it’s the unique culture of the descendants of Spanish settlers in the Tejas area, established over 100 years before modern-day Texas became a U.S. state. And no one is more synonymous with Tejano culture than Selena Quintanilla-Perez, known widely as just Selena. Her music is a fusion of various Mexican and U.S. influences that is “ni de aquí, ni de allá” (neither from here, nor there). It also embodies the wonderful complexities of being a Hispanic/Latinx American. Selena’s life (and tragic death) was made into a biopic in 1997, with Jennifer Lopez playing Selena. Most recently it was also re-made as a Netflix series.
Mi Gente by J Balvin & Willy Williams
If you’ve been to any quinceanera in the past 4 years, chances are that you’ve heard the infectious beat of Mi Gente playing loudly. J Balvin is a singer from Medellin, Colombia, and is often referred to as the “Prince of Reggaeton,” a musical genre from Latin America that has taken the world by storm and flooded dancefloors everywhere. The song is a collaboration between J Balvin and French DJ, Willy Williams, and has gained broad international success thanks to its wildly fun energy and bilingual lyrics which invites everyone to be part of mi gente (my people).