Hispanic Heritage Month ‘El Tiny’ Takeover: NPR


At Alt.Latino, the weekly podcast I’ve hosted for 11 years, we like to say that every month is Hispanic Heritage Month. But we’ve stepped things up a bit between September 15 and October 15 each year – and 2021 marks the biggest production yet.

This year, we’re presenting an unprecedented (for NPR, at least) Latin music exhibition through our cover of the Tiny Desk concert series (at home). And while we start with reggaeton superstar J Balvin (yes, J Balvin played a Tiny Desk), it’s more than just entertainment. One of the fundamental principles of Alt.Latino is my firm belief that music can be a sociological snapshot when it comes to communities with a direct or historical connection to Latin America.

Genres and cultural inspirations are mixed and blurry in just about every artist on our list. Eme Alfonso’s magnificent blend of Santería and soul, Diamanté Electrico’s blend of Afro-Colombian roots music and modern pop are just two examples. In fact, a closer look at J Balvin’s rise reveals the transnational journey of reggaetón from the Jamaican community of Panama City to the mixtapes of the Afro-Puerto Rican streets to the expat communities of Brooklyn, and finally world domination after “Despacito . “

It is no coincidence that the musical journey of reggaeton also reflects the many routes of immigration, as people come and go in search of a better life in new lands or, sometimes, new neighborhoods. So many stories of Latin musicians can be traced in the same way, and for the next 30 days we reach out through “El Tiny”, the Alt.Latino podcast, our weekly Spotify and Apple Music playlists, and NPR’s Instagram feeds to tell those stories. Enjoy.

About Dawn Valle

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