Nina Simone said it best: “An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.” Latino musicians and rappers, ones like Residente and Immortal Technique, have long used their music as vehicle for political resistance, to narrate the immigrant experience, and as a call for the liberation of one’s people.
The latter emerges a theme worth celebrating today, as Puerto Rico’s longest-held political prisoner, Oscar López Rivera, was officially set free—from house arrest, after spending 36 years in U.S. custody.
From stark protest cries against police brutality, to anthems of endurance in the face of change or social upheaval, here are 11 not-so-traditional songs worth blasting as we march on…
1. Danay Suarez – “Flores”
Cuban singer-rapper Danay Suarez brings a calm message of strength and endurance in the face of change.
2. El B Ft. Talib Kweli – “Sigo Aqui”
Rapper EL B, hailing from Cuba, enlists hip-hop veteran Talib Kweli in a call of resistance during times of political mayhem.
3. Calle 13 – Querido FBI
Puerto Rico’s Calle 13 issues a bold statement to the United State’s Federal Bureau of Investigation.
4. Immortal Technique – “Rich Man’s World”
The Peruvian rapper holds nothing back in his scathing address to the one percent.
5. Vakeró – “Hombre Gris”
A poignant reminder by Dominican artist Vakeró that police brutality runs disproportionately in black and brown communities.
6. Calle 13, Orishas – “Pa’l Norte”
A timely and necessary note on belonging here, and traveling of the world without boundaries.
7. Los Tigres Del Norte – “Mis Dos Patrias”
A song about straddling borders, and belonging to two homelands.
8. Fania All Stars – “Anacaona”
Not as readily digestible a song of protest, but it’s sure an anthem of pride and resilience, as the Fania crew honors Taina warrior and chief, Anacaona, who rebelled against her Spanish conquerers and was slain for it.
9. Puya Ft. Tego Calderón, Tito Auger, MiMi Maura & El Topo – “La Marulla”
A wall worth putting up, as “La Marulla” illustrates a world not in the colonial hands of the United States.
10. Taina Asili – “No Es Mi Presidente”
The Puerto Rican singer smashes white supremacy and chin-checks Donald Trump in one fell swoop.
11. Snow Tha Product – “Despierta”
Just one big, urgent wake-up call to Latinos everywhere.