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Alt.Latino offers a 2023 playlist for your listening pleasure


We are just a few weeks into 2023 and already I feel like I need some fresh music on my playlist. And who better to help than the crew at Alt.Latino, Felix Contreras and Anamaria Sayre.

Good morning.

FELIX CONTRERAS, BYLINE: Good morning. Good morning.


RASCOE: So we are starting 2023 with a clean slate. What's already on your radar?

CONTRERAS: You know, the end of the year is always traditionally slow. Not a lot of music coming out. And then every year, things start jumping real fast. We brought in four tracks that have come in recently that have caught our ear.

SAYRE: So this first track I brought is actually from the end of 2022. It's called "Regalo" by Caloncho y Bomba Estereo. Caloncho is a Sonoran singer songwriter who's known for kind of a mix of tropical reggae and pop. Meanwhile, Bomba Estereo is heavy on the electro cumbia sound, a Colombian band. So seeing the two come together for this kind of tropical, boppy (ph) track with synths and guitars really feels special.


CALONCHO AND BOMBA ESTEREO: (Singing in non-English language).

RASCOE: OK, OK. That sounds really fun. Yeah, that sounds like a lot of fun.

SAYRE: It makes you want to dance, no (laughter)?

RASCOE: Felix, what's catching your attention?

CONTRERAS: OK. A guy named Gregorio Uribe. Now, he's a very talented musician from Colombia, another Colombian musician, which is a country that has a very strong accordion tradition. This track is called "Atlas." I'm going to start the track, and I'm going to talk you through the beginning part because there's some interesting musical things happening.


CONTRERAS: There's the accordion.


CONTRERAS: Got a bit of a cumbia beat going. And underneath it's got these - what are called alegre drums. They're like African djembes. They're descendants of African djembes that's mixed in with this Colombian tradition. Check it out.


GREGORIO URIBE: (Singing in non-English language).

RASCOE: We've done this a few times since I've started hosting WEEKEND EDITION, and I'm detecting a difference in the music that you and Ana bring.

CONTRERAS: I don't want to say it's an age thing, but, you know, Ana's a little younger than I am or I'm a little older than she is. But there are some places where our tastes overlap.

SAYRE: You know, I think that Felix and I overlap more than you would think we do.

CONTRERAS: (Laughter).

SAYRE: But I think that's the beauty of, you know, what we like to do on Alt.Latino is we kind of find the spots where the differences happen.

CONTRERAS: And it all comes back to the fact that it's almost impossible to classify just what is Latin music these days because musicians are expanding that meaning, like, every day, every time we hear something new.

RASCOE: So, Ana, can you give another example of what that expansion looks like?

SAYRE: Yeah, I think that this next track that I brought in is probably pretty exemplar of the ways that Felix and I maybe differ in our tastes. It's called "Hedonismo," and it's by Puerto Rican rapper Villano Antillano. "Hedonismo" translates to hedonism in English. It is a track off of the first official album that she released back in December. This was after a very rapid rise to fame for her coming out of Puerto Rico. And a lot of that has to do with the way that she really openly expresses herself as a queer transgender woman. And she's really able to be open about that sexuality and about how she feels about that. And so this is a wonderful expression of that.


VILLANO ANTILLANO: (Rapping in non-English language).

RASCOE: I love, you know, when the girls want to talk that talk (laughter).

SAYRE: There we go, there we go. That's what I'm saying.

RASCOE: Yes. OK, so it's almost time to wrap this up. Felix, bring it home for us.

CONTRERAS: OK. Check this out.


LUCAS SANTTANA: (Singing in non-English language).

CONTRERAS: We're diverting drastically for the last cut.

RASCOE: Yes, we're going to a very - we're, like, slowing it down.

SAYRE: That's, like, whiplash.

RASCOE: Slowing it down - very different pace.

CONTRERAS: Whiplash, for sure. This is a guy named Lucas Santtana. He's from Salvador, Bahia, in Brazil, which is a center of Afro-Brazilian culture and music in that country. He's a vocalist-composer-producer dude. I've been a fan of his mix of the myriad of folk styles of Brazil mixed with contemporary electronic music. His music is either the ancient future or a futuristic look at the past. Either way, I've been a big fan. This track is a cover of a song by Brazilian master Jorge Ben from 1974. The title is in Latin. I'm not even going to try to pronounce it. Just dig the music.


SANTTANA: (Singing in non-English language).

RASCOE: Felix Contreras and Anamaria Sayre are the co-hosts of NPR's Alt.Latino podcast. And in 2023, Alt.Latino is celebrating its 13th year.


CONTRERAS: Thank you. Thank you.

SAYRE: Thank you.

RASCOE: I always love the music you all bring.

Felix and Ana, thank you so much.

CONTRERAS: Thank you.

SAYRE: Thank you. This was so fun.


SANTTANA: (Singing in non-English language). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.
Felix Contreras is co-creator and host of Alt.Latino, NPR's pioneering radio show and podcast celebrating Latin music and culture since 2010.
Anamaria Artemisa Sayre is co-host of Alt.Latino, NPR's pioneering radio show and podcast celebrating Latin music and culture since 2010.