Image by Nina Parks of Invisible Hands. Taken in Mendocino County, California.
Time is rolling on whether we like it or not.
For many of us, the seeming chaos – I say seeming because I wonder if it’s always been this chaotic and only seems more so because we have the Internet now – is something we’ve yet to truly process within ourselves, our communities and our nations.
So, I don’t set out to process that in this post, but I do want to take a look back on the moments which inspired in 2014.
conrazón is a choice to live in love. That means working from a place of love. And my love is dedicated to pushing sounds and culture which strives to reflect, heal and unite. If you are reading this, I want to thank you for coming along for the ride!
There’s a lot of unlearning to do. The way things are going, I’m not sure how soon we’ll have to unlearn out of sheer societal/planetary necessity or if we can rise up to the challenge together before it gets to that.
Here’s to the new year, the new us and the new you!
2014 was a whirlwild for me. I started the year in Staten Island watching a sunrise over the Narrows after a jam session and ended it in San Francisco dancing my face off at a mega night club. In between? I was part of a team which launched a major label album debut, turned 30, survived Burning Man by driving across the country on a purple school bus to get there, visited Google & Facebook headquarters, started a global music party & programmed cultural events on my hometown of Staten Island & also wrote about our cultural entrepreneurs, spent a lot of time in California & eventually moved here, wrote some songs, co-created/hosted/organized a music festival, launched this brand new website (thank you Misfit Media!), said good morning to Eric Garner and am witnessing a wave of action emerge from that day, presented at the Allied Media Conference in Detroit, presented the amazing band Chicano Batman at Nublu, let go of unhealthy friendships and trusting the magnets attracting me to new energies, felt the natural healing powers of the springs & rivers in Mt. Shasta (Northern California), participated in an art show for the first time, solidified ties with the #DiosaTribe, worked on a feature film and re-visited Europe for the first time in 15 years. Holy run-on sentence for my run-on sentence life…onwards, upwards and inwards!
Fresh off the Honda Civic Tour, Los Rakas celebrate their biggest year yet! As national ambassadors for Converse, Raka Rich & Raka Dun put out “Spaceshippin‘” with the indie rock duo The Bots and even made their live debut in Europe this Summer in Amsterdam. Their critically acclaimed major label debut – El Negrito Dun Dun & Ricardo – challenged the norms of urban, Latin and pop music. Their collaboration with Blondie, signing with #TeamHennessy and multiple festival experiences from Cali Roots to Supersonico to Reggae on the River will only continue to propel Raka Rich, Raka Dun and the entire Raka movement forward. Soy Raka!
- VH1: “Top 15 Latino Artist You Should Know Before The Latin Grammys“
- “El Negrito Dun Dun & Ricardo” (listen on Spotify) on Universal Latino – hit #1 on iTunes Latin Urban chart
- Released a powerful, ground-breaking & cinematic 3-part music video series about the immigrant experience in America: Mi Pais (My Country), Sueño Americano (American Dream), Chica de Mi Corazon (Woman of My Heart)
- Released more light-hearted video “Asi Me Gusta” [watch] & anthem “We Dem Rakaz (Hola)” [watch]
- National Converse sneaker ambassadors featured in 2014 ad campaign (Check it out in Stereogum)
- Collaborated on Blondie’s “Ghosts of Download” album which was called “…of the most striking and unexpected tracks on the record.” – Rolling Stone
- First Latin artist on Honda Civic Tour (alongside 3BallMTY) which toured nationally via Billboard
LA MECANICA POPULAR
Super proud of La Mecanica Popular and their breakthrough year. Releasing their debut on Brooklyn label Names You Can Trust at the end of 2013, they steam-rolled through 2014 by launching live residency “Salsa y Sexo” at Nublu, playing amazing gigs with Fania Record‘s legend Roberto Roena and dance legend Little Louie Vega at Central Park SummerStage (watch this TV piece with footage from the show!) and Juana Molina on WNYC Soundcheck with NPR Latino USA as well as rocking the Brooklyn Museum. Their trippycal video Guajiro was selected by Remezcla as one of the “Top Videos of 2014” and premiered in Wax Poetics. Efrain also talked about the politics of hacking Western technologies to make African Diaspora music later when they re-visited with WNYC Soundcheck in the Fall. I can’t wait to hear to what lengths the band will push their out of this world sound!
Coming into her sound this year, Zuzuka has been collaborating with Nego Mozambique on not only tons of live sets – from a raucous set at Peligrosa’s stage in Austin during SXSW and shows from Copenhagen to Brazil to back home in Brooklyn (like Azucar with Maluca & Princess Nokia) – but also a 2015 upcoming album. She licensed music t0 CBS for TV show “Elementary” and hosted Brazilian dance troupe Batalha do Passinho at Lincoln Center this summer. Zuzuka’s bubbling and pretty soon the sounds won’t be able to be contained any more. This is pussy control…poderosa means power!