Hip-hop and pop en español or Portuguese (on eMusic & Bandcamp).

Descúlpenme por mezclar idiomas y regiones distintas.

Next, let me say again that Latin America remains a geographic region of strength for eMusic (www.emusic.com).  I don’t know why that is, but I hope it holds.

I haven’t updated my list of labels for a long time, but it seems to be mostly intact.  https://www.reddit.com/r/eMusicofficial/comments/cst70g/estudios_hisp%C3%A1nicos_emusic_labels_from_the/

Whether you’re a native speaker, aprendiendo, or don’t understand any of the lyrics, I think you’ll also find these titles exciting and engaging.

1. “Aves de Chile” - Niño Cohete (2013).   A lot of this list will be too extreme for most listeners, so let’s start with something broadly appealing and pleasant that I’d recommend to virtually anyone with 99 cents to spare.  This is a carefully produced album that alternates between pop rock and more urban styles, but always with an ear towards melody and catchy choruses.  If I chose to level some criticism, I’d say it’s acoustic rock tracks hedge a little too closely to the Jack Johnson (or much less famously, Orba Squara) school of trying to please everyone by cataloguing the simple pleasures of life and music, ending up bland or precious at times.  I suppose that’s done in pursuit of the dubious distinction of getting licensed for commercials or endless loops at hostels worldwide.

2.  “Auge” - Tono (2018).  More rock than any other on this list, what puts it squarely in this category is the hyperkinetic and irresistibly seductive (or obnoxious) ninth track, “Motel.”  It throws absolutely everything they’ve got at you, and I personally find it awesome.  The rest of the album is slightly more restrained, but still with alternating or harmonizing male and female vocals, and it dares to mix electric guitars and flutes on a regular basis.  The second track is reggae with a harmonica.  A groovy, laid-back atmosphere is the mode; comparing it to Santana with more soul would be pandering, but I’m willing to try anything to get more ears on them.  Their short name makes them hard to Google or otherwise track down, unfortunately.  

3. “Is Normal In Sudamerica” - Rey Choclo (2016).  I don’t ever need to hear the first track, possibly a slickly produced inside joke or a tribute to some guy named “Joe Zepec,” again, but the rest of the album is very enjoyable rock and pop infused with synths.  Light-hearted, upbeat, and catchy.  It’s been a long time since I didn’t wretch reflexively at a vocal surf rock song like “Penas de Amor.”  “Convivencia” goes full garage rock.  What may be common are rousing choruses that invite the listener to sing along, whether or not s/he knows any Spanish.  Abundant “Ooohs" and “Lalala” sections help.  Is it a truism that any good pop song in any style or language needs to be at least a little annoying to get its hooks in us?   https://americamediarecords.bandcamp.com/album/is-normal-in-sudam-rica

4. “Los siete contra Tebas” - Gata Cattana (2012).  A solid EP of rap over electronic beats by a female MC from Spain (if she’s not actually gitana).  They have several titles to choose from, and I may eventually pay more than 99 cents for one.  https://gatacattana.bandcamp.com/album/los-siete-contra-tebas

5. “Relatos Psicobailables” - Por Aquí Pasan Aviones (2018). Salsa with more organs and guitars than usual make for a decidedly modern, psychedelic, or—dare I say—progressive take on ritmos latinos.  I’m not a fan of the vocals, which generally seem to be spoken, rapped, or shouted rather than sung, but nothing is wrecked by them.  99 cents.

6. “S/t” - Los Chipitos de Chapultepec (2015).  The usual Latin beats and melodies take on an epic electronic scale on the opening track of this unusual 99-cent EP, and the going only gets stranger from there, splitting a familiar playground melody into pieces with a sinister, deep bass laugh (the devil himself), building to an accordion break ready for the club.  Throw in some rap, a theremin in the conclusion, and you’ve got a real audio aventura.  https://americamediarecords.bandcamp.com/album/los-chipitos-de-chapultepec

7.  “Glitter en Caca” - Afrodito (2019).  Unfortunately, a  significant number of listeners will be deterred by the cover photo from what is actually a nicely produced and varied hip-hop album by folks w/ a lot on their minds, as evident by opening with a consideration of feminism.  From there, there’s heavy beats and at least two MCs in conversation.  Their use of vocal distortion and overall eccentricity remind me a bit of Rammellzee (especially on the 2nd half of “23”).  They’re not against non-musical samples, repetition, or occasionally switching to English for naughty words.  A song like “Culos Fuera” goes meta and like much else on the album is somewhere between an intellectual or political statement/exercise and the dancefloor.  Well worth 99 cents if you’re the least interested in the style or just something unusual, alternating between playful and serious. https://afrodito.bandcamp.com/album/glitter-en-caca-2

8. “Cosmic Noise Vol. 2” - Bulllet (2014).  This one comes out of the gates sounding like a Brazilian Malachai in terms of broke-down backing beats and choruses, but the lead vocalist is more interested in rapping.  “Odore” trades him for a female vocalist in a kind of psychedelic sitar, harp, brass boogaloo with some English thrown in.  Then it’s right back to bass-heavy rap with Chinese percussion and a nice outro of scratching.  The last track goes to the sultry female vocalist, entirely in English, with flair aplenty.  Vol. 1 is three times the price and not quite twice the length, but on the strength of the 99-cent sequel I’ll eventually seek the roots.

9. “Fósil” - Nezumi Gab feat. Nativa (2019).  After all that oddness, maybe some straightforward, poppy hip-hop will be refreshing?  Nezumi Gab speaks highly of himself, but not to an extreme extent, and production never reaches for a general pop audience.  The rapping is always front and center.  It’s explicit without feeling particularly gangsta or narco, and there’s a surprising sample to open the second track.  NYP.  https://nezumigab.bandcamp.com/album/f-sil

10. “Calle Corre Mundo” - La Redonda (2013).  Venezuelan pop that splits the difference between Afrocuban ritmos and vocal stylings with rap, including use of the n-word, leaving out all the electronic posturing and production more often associated with pop music.  A 99-cent EP that’s all over the place over its half-hour runtime.  Very enjoyably so.

11. “Radio Kz, Vol. 1” - Jhamy (2017).  Among Bandcamp’s many advantages over eMu, v/a compilations on the more thriving site are understood to be enticing ports of entry for entire labels’ catalogs and are frequently priced accordingly (NYP).  It’s rare to find a comp on eMu for 99 cents like this one, and it may be due to the “mixtape” phenomenon in hip-hop crediting Jhamy w/ four other artists’ songs here, or just a clerical error.  These are highly accessible, poppy hip-hop songs en español, only in one case overusing f-bombs.  Accompaniment is unpredictably varied and refreshing.  These may actually work better for general listeners than obsessives, so if you just want a cheap EP to start exploring Latin hip-hop, this is a good one.

12. “S/t” - DJ Tawan (2019).  Pretty sure I’m not the target audience for this one.  It’s 99 cents, and it’s hip-hop.  Not my preferred style by any means, but I’ll still take it over most popular stuff in English.  Sparse beats and electronic backing w/out melody, really just rhythmic elements and rapping, though I’d hesitate to call it minimalist.  Not quite as obnoxious as I expected after sampling, but I won’t be playing it for my grandparents.  “Ei Ei Ei Ooo” sounds like Portuguese Elmo was recruited as a guest MC.  I assume the guy is both his own DJ and MC, and if you’re reading this in English, you don’t have much in your collection that sounds like this.       

French hip-hop of “Y a plein de chemins” - Claustinto (2019) isn’t going to be on another list any time soon, so tack it onto the end of this one.  Too much singing and playful experimentation to be straighforward or serious hip-hop and somehow too frenetic, occasionally obnoxious to be pop music (a feat rarely heard), this definitely makes a strong impression.  Either a short album or long EP at just under half an hour, a bargain at 99 cents if you can tolerate it.  I’d put it on if I’m trying to stay awake and alert in the middle or near the end of a long drive.  I can see how someone might give it only two stars, but I think that’s unfair for how unique it sounds.  It takes pop and rap production to such extremes that it will scare pop listeners.

Rather than reposting repeatedly, here’s my lists of what’s left on eMusic:  http://www.omnifoo.info/pages/eMuReddit.html 

& by my evaluation http://www.omnifoo.info/pages/eMusic%20Labels.html

& by genre https://www.emusers.net/forum/discussion/comment/94512/#Comment_94512 

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