A coming of age in Latin American culture, no less so for the Latin Alternative Music Conference, which is celebrating 15 years since it’s inception. The cultural parallels beg for a shout-out and are sprinkled throughout as Raul and I witnessed the installations of mannequins adorned with Quinceañera dresses before the conference opened to the public.
It’s also a recognition of 15 years since the founding of the Latin Grammys and the Vive Latino music festival, and so the year does lend itself a moment of reflection at a cultural milestone — which KCRW has been at the forefront since that movement began, especially Morning Becomes Eclectic and each of it’s illustrious hosts.
Now, more than ever it begs the unending question what IS Latin Alternative?
For answers look to the first showcase of the conference at the Summer Stage in Central Park compromised entirely of established Hip-Hop acts.
Bodega Bamz, the New York-based Latin artist with a sound borne of a rich history of Bronx-based Latino Rap collectives combined with other American Rap artists to inspire a socially conscious sound growing in critical acclaim opened the show.
Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux has already crossed into the mainstream as a hybrid Hip-Hop/Pop/R&B artist such creativity and success garners. She’s pushing the limits of the genre — reminding audiences Hip-Hop can exceed personal agendas and reflect political matters or other sensitive areas devoid of violence.
Even as a Thunderstorm rolled over the park dropping a big fat rain sending some of the crowd scurrying, Ana kept performing for the remaining revelers dancing in the storm.
Straight outta Queens the New York-based Hip-Hop group and production duo with Dominican and Columbian roots, The Beatnuts closed the night at the park with a raucous sound.
We ran over to the LAMC Showcase at the Mercury Lounge but, for the second year in a row, the venue was so packed even the host of the conference (Raul!) couldn’t get in. Instead we ended up closing out the evening at Louie & Chan — Nickodemus and DJ Wiseacre’s hot spot, taking in a Subsuelo show and dancing the night away along with a hot, packed, jubilant crowd.
Latin Alternative at its Quinceañera…the sound is Everything…the roots are Latin culture…the groove is all good and the week is just beginning.
– Brent Gordon