Young people are blending styles and traditions — borrowing from here & there, and mixing in totally modern sounds to create awesome music with heart & soul — to create irresistible genre bending music hybrids.
The big Latin American cities all have their really cool bohemian vibe in certain neighborhoods where the musicians congregate. This extends to Spanish cities, other European cities, as well as New York City, Miami, L.A., San Francisco, and more.
The underground Latin music scene is fantastic! There is so much going on. And, Latin American culture & music is not homogeneous — each country has its own unique thing.
Latin musicians are influenced by their travels, and what they hear from around the world. They often create from a foundation based on their own country’s traditional music, and mix in modern elements, while borrowing from other places.
And, lots of gringo musicians are influenced in turn by Latin musicians, their traditional rhythms, and the cool new vibe they are creating nowadays. This exchange has been going on since the days when Cuban musicians influenced Jazz in New York & New Orleans, then on to the heyday of Fania Records, and now into the 21st Century as musicians keep up the cultural exchange in the great melting pots of the Americas.
The only thing that’s predictable, is that you never know exactly what to expect. Bookmark this page because it has 3 stirring Spotify playlist that highlight the best underground Latin music from the last few years. Get into the talented Latin artists that make today’s most exciting music. Watch live videos of these magnificent musicians in action…
See Ondatrópica, an exciting & diverse band
combining traditional and modern Colombian music, live in NYC.
Escucha el sonido — Latino Moderno
El Sonido Sabroso — Dynamic, Diverse Underground Latin Music
Ondatrópica gets the party started with the powerful, “Suena.” Ana Tijoux shines with her commanding rap on this impactful tune — stunning drums & an irresistible accordion move the song along and get you moving your feet.
Ondatrópica is a Colombia super-group put together by Quantic, which explores and expands on the tropical music sounds of Colombia in their rawest form and marries them with modern music.
Also in this playlist, you’ve got a classic Latin hip-hop track with real musicians on it from Orishas, Cuban rappers based in France.
Hear cutting-edge productions from Gilles Peterson, Nickodemus & more Quantic — Latin loving producers that put out some of the coolest underground modern Latin music today.
Gilles Peterson’s Havana Cultura project is remarkable. The great British DJ & producer traveled to Havana to explore the Cuban underground and record an album: Havana Cultura: New Cuba Sound.
He discovered Havana’s fertile – and fiercely independent – hip-hop culture: nodded to the riotous thump ‘n’ grind of Cuba’s homegrown reggaeton movement and highlighted a clique of artists innovating in the spaces between Jazz, Soul music, traditional Cuban rhythms and hip-hop.
Jungle Fire pre-released a 45 for “N.U.S.A.U.” on Colemine Records before their awesome album, Jambú, came out on Nacional Records in February 2017. It stands for “None of Us is as Strong as All of Us” — a saying the late, great DJ Dusk used to announce at his DJ gigs. “N.U.S.A.U.” brings the heat! It’s a high-energy jam propelled by the horn section, and Jungle Fire’s always combustible percussion ensemble.
In this playlist, you’ll hear a sabrosa variety of music from all over Latin America & the USA. For example, “Aguacero” from Night Visions by Chico Mann & Captain Planet perfectly captures the pan-Latin music spirit that exists between South & North American musicians.
This is also evident in the vibrant energy of Chicago based ESSO Afrojam Funkbeats’ unique sound. Their sensual 2017 album, Juntos, is full of tropical Funk and “Cumbiation”. Each song on Juntos is a journey. “Baila” brings a funky Latin dance vibe that’s the perfect hybrid of electronic music & organic grooves, and even features a dope Hip-Hop en español interlude. It’s also one of the best Funk songs of 2017 in any language.
Hear one of my all-time favorites — “Mi Swing Es Tropical” by Quantic & Nickodemus — preceeded by a little “Cumbia en Bahia” from Bosq’s superb 2015 record, Celestial Strut.
And to close it out, is Tribu Baharú’s 2017 single, “Baila.” It’s a high-energy Champeta dance jam from Colombia. I love how they combine the central African guitar style with the heavy Caribbean beat. This tune is like the sound of sunshine.
Watch this impromptu outside session of The Combo Barbaro’s take on traditional Colombian music from the Pacific coast…
You might not get the lyrics, but you’ll surely dig the Latino Bohemio vibe…
Listen to Argentina’s Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, long-time heroes of the Latin music underground, with “Calaveras y Diablitos,” a slowed down Ska en Español classic will have you singing along even if you can’t understand what they’re saying.
Like I said above — the underground, modern Latin music is unpredictable (in the best kind of way). Peruvian band, Bareto, gives us some modern and amazing Andean music with, “El Impredecible,” off of their outstanding album Impredecible (which means unpredictable). It’s a great record for refusing to stay in one place or genre for too long.
Watch this fun video for Bareto’s 2016 single, “Quiero Amanecer,” a stimulating, hybrid, modern Cumbia song. It’ll have you planning a music vacation to Peru 😉
Also in this Spotify playlist, we’ll visit Spain, various countries in Latin America, as well as NYC & California…
“Callejero” is a super jam from L.A. Latin Funk phenom, Jungle Fire. Check out the phenomenal guitar work, teriffic timbales, and bold brass. It comes from Jungle Fire’s scorching, 2017 record, Jambú on Nacional Records.
Hear Argentina’s Bajofondo updating the sound of Tango. Listen to more of what Latin America’s best female rapper, Ana Tijoux, has to say. Enjoy the modern sounds of Colombia from Bomba Estéreo too.
Check out the psychedelic Cumbia of Dos Santos: Anti-Beat Orquesta, a Chicago-based band on Electric Cowbell Records. They rocks the sounds of Peruvian Chicha combined with fun Rock en Español on “Corre Caballo.”
These guys play Latin dance music that shakes sweatbox dance floors with fierce energy all over Latin America & the USA. It’s honest dance music with no frills and no fear, anchored by reverb-slathered guitars, Hammond organ, and syncopated percussion.
Watch Dos Santos in action, playing “Epilogue 66 / El Puerto de Ánimas” live from Congahead Studios…
And, jump around the room to Chico Trujillo’s hipster Cumbia.
You’ll get to enjoy all this and more in our second Spotify playlist. You might not understand the lyrics, but that doesn’t matter. It all sounds good, and the spirit that’s burning inside these fabulous musicians gets communicated no matter what.
Watch Ana Tijoux telling her story & showing off her vocal skills…
This is your chance to live Pura Vida, Pura Amor with some of
the best young musicians in Latin music.
This first tune comes from Novalima’s excellent 2015 album, Planetario. Novalima masterfully mixes the traditional sounds of Afro-Peruvian music with modern production, and a little electronic vibe. They’re one of the hottest bands of the modern Latin underground scene.
Hearing “Ya Te Toca” by Chico Mann & Captain Planet is like a trip to the clubs & festivals of Latin America. This is my favorite song on Night Visions because Captain Planet so skillfully combines Andean flutes with house music beats, as Chico Mann chants over this high-energy rhythm. It’s the ideal tune for any DJ’s Tropical House set. This tune could get any dance floor pumping!
“Mofongo” from Jungle Fire’s Jambú features playful horns dancing alongside a tremendous timbales jam. The dopest drum & bass groove keeps it going as the rest of the percussion players give it that Jungle Fire Latin Funk flavor I love so much. More trippy guitar playing makes its mark to prove Jungle Fire is a force all its own — updating old-school, 1970s Latin Funk for the 2000s.
Watch the video of Jungle Fire playing “Mofongo” live in San Diego…
Chico Trujillo from Chile & Mojarra Eléctrica from Colombia are two great bands updating the Cumbia sound. They appear here with tracks from outstanding albums that came out in 2015.
Quantic is in here, of course, because he’s my favorite music producer, as well as a British guy that’s doing more to get modern Colombian music out into the world than just about anyone else.
Peliroja represents Latin New York City. I like to think of them as the 21st century version of Our Latin Thing.
An old favorite from Argentinean band, Los Cafres, “Pura Vida”, is in here just for the title and because I love the song.
Bomba Estereo, also from Colombia, is having a lot of success. This is my favorite song form their 2015 album. I love the guitar effects on this track.
Gecko Turner is a funky Spaniard, kind of like the Spanish G. Love. He has a tight band, but sings in this odd, unintelligible English. Either way, “Oye Muchacha” is a cool song.
Pyramid Blue, an Afrobeat/Latin Funk band from Madrid, give us the opportunity to get a little funky.
One of London’s tightest funk bands, Speedometer, get a little Latin funky on this 2015 single, and get the Orisha’s party going.
Then, let’s finish it off with a little high-energy Latin House music type Tumbao — one of which comes from the Whiskey Barons’ Funky Sabroso Mix, which is the best Fania remix album ever made.
Check out this video of Mojarra Eléctrica, of Bogotá, demonstrating the mixing of various forms of Latin music with modern music in the big cities.
Check out the catalog of Nacional Records because they consistently put out the best, genre-bending new Latin music. If you really want to keep up with the most current, cutting-edge Latin music, you can also check out the Latin Alternative Music Conference in New York.
In these playlists you can get turned on to iconic bands, as well as up & coming musicians worth more attention. Bookmark this page and use it as a starting point to keep discovering the colorful cultures, profound traditions and dynamic modern music that makes Latin America so exciting.