Attending SXSW is opportunistic in the sense that anyone can connect with other musicians and music enthusiasts in small bars, city stages and backyards around Austin. This year, Felix Contreras returned to Alt.Latino headquarters, aiming to balance out all the emotions of the festivals, as if his experiences came home with him.
In light of SXSW 2019, music discovery and the passionate energy that fill our hearts, check out this weekly Alt.Latino dig. Hear a flute-looped reggaeton dance between Sean Paul and J Balvin, the lush production of Mula's latest track and a Santana jam produced by the legendary Rick Rubin. -- Jacqueline Reed
Sean Paul & J Balvin, "Contra La Pared"
It's impossible to over-celebrate Sean Paul. The Jamaican rapper has never received the credit he deserved for bringing Caribbean beats so ubiquitously to the America's mainstream dance floor two decades ago with tracks like "Get Busy" and "Gimme The Light" — the kind of praise J Balvin is receiving now for bringing reggaeton to the world stage.
Thankfully, the Colombian reggaetonero has always been one to give credit where it's due. The two teamed up in the Utah desert for "Contra La Pared" (the chorus of which is the "cúcara, mácara, títere fue" rhyme from your childhood — sorry). The Tainy-produced, flute-looped dancehall track is a perfect example of what a "legends only" mentality can achieve. — Stefanie Fernández
Juanes & Alvaro Soler, "Arte" (From No Manches Frida 2 Soundtrack)
Can you say "wacky comedy in Spanish, Part Two"? That is essentially the gist of the film No Manches Frida 2, which features new music from Juanes. But what isn't wacky is the creative tear Juanes seems to be on as he prepares for an album release later this year.
This track was written for the upcoming album but he decided to hold it, then invited Spain's Alvaro Soler to participate and the producer of the film asked to use it in the soundtrack.
Juanes' last album, Mis Planes Son Amarte, was a portrait of a so-called legacy artist adapting and growing mid-career. The conceptual album was well received both artistically and commercially and it was a reminder that writing hits is a gift but writing a smart, well thought out album's worth of songs is his craft and he shows no sign of slowing down. — Felix Contreras
MC Magic feat. Cuco & Lil Rob, "Search"
Last year, 20-year-old Chicano R&B singer Cuco told NPR about how the "simple romantic music" and Spanglish flow of Chicano rap forebears like MC Magic and Lil Rob influenced his own take on Latinx love songs. When I got the follow from MC Magic on Twitter last month, I had a feeling something was up.
"Search" is an ode to the kind of love MC Magic and Lil Rob soundtracked in the early 2000s and Cuco in the present. Magic's and Rob's flow against the simple loop of guitars, bongos, and a flittering synth with Cuco's sweet chorus are meltworthy. The music video tells the story of a son's afternoon trip at his mother's request to buy eggs and bolillos at the corner store, where he falls for the girl behind the counter. Their love story plays out against the sun-filtered backdrop of East Los Angeles, music you can play at your mom's house. — Stefanie Fernández
Santana feat. Buika, "Los Invisibles"
Carlos Santana is faced with a somewhat unenviable position these days: What to do after 50 years of making albums and touring the world? After listening to this new single from his upcoming album, the answer is obvious: Delve even deeper into the cornerstone of the Santana sound — Africa.
The upcoming album is called Africa Speaks and this sneak preview is promising. It features the vocalist Concha Buika, herself a product of African presence on the island of Mallorca, flexing her formidable flamenco influences over a deep Afrobeat groove punctuated by a typically impressive Santana guitar solo.
The track and the album are produced by legendary producer Rick Rubin and the 10 day sessions resulted in over 40 songs, making it one of the guitarist's most prolific recording sessions. It seems that after 50 years, Carlos Santana is even more inspired than ever. — Felix Contreras
Mula, "Ella Sabe"
The women of Dominican trio Mula always bring a distinctly female intelligence to the themes and production of their music, but "Ella Sabe" feels bold and delightfully weird even for them. Just under three minutes, "Ella Sabe" fuses steel drums, a warped bass beat, and that sound you get when the aux cord is halfway plugged into the speaker over rapidly shifting tempos. "Ella Sabe" is the tropical electro-goth I'm craving, just in time for summer. — Stefanie Fernández
Hear and tune in to the Alt.Latino Spotify playlist, updated weekly.