Diandra’s 2016 in Music

Thanks to Amy, I decided to listen to the debut solo album from iLe (a.k.a. Ileana Cabra, PG-13 from Calle 13). Triángulo is a solid folk-inspired waltz [1] and Extraña de Querer is an airy, well-measured, simple and soft song [1].

Yet all my replays go to the vibrant salsa of Rescatarme.

Of course this (half-) Puerto Rican here goes for the salsa tune… Great to see young boriqua artists honor the past while firmly defining their identity in the present.

Karol Conka was introduced to the world as one of Brazil’s representative performers at the Olympics opening ceremony. She’s known as a strong, colorful, female-empowering rapper. Tombei is addictive.

Note: Slightly NSFW

and there’s a stunning video for É o Poder.

Conka also rapped on the anthem 100% Feminista [1] with MC Carol, whose style is a little less pop and a little more rough baile funk/baile carioca. Carol gets serious about injustice and police brutality on Delação Premiada:

A tumultuous year like 2016 will produce angry responses like Blitz the Ambassador’s Heaven (feat. Tumi)

The Ghanaian-American rapper traveled between Accra, Bahia and Brooklyn to explore the album title theme Diasporadical. [1]. I haven’t been able to watch his short film trilogy [1] based on the album, though.

Hailing from another diaspora is actor Riz Ahmed, who appeared in television like The Night Of and The OA, franchise films like Jason Bourne and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, as well as smaller independent films Una and City of Tiny Lights this year. As the rapper Riz MC, he released the album Englistan [Bandcamp], with this title track video:

Much of the album consists of his expected pulsing, witty rap; exploring themes of discrimination and filial expectations. Benaz (feat. Ayana Witter Johnson) [Bandcamp], however, settles down and focuses as a haunting indictment of honor-killing. Riz MC is also one of the guests on the Hamilton mixtape track Immigrants (We Get the Job Done) [1].

The song also features K’naan, Snow Tha Product, and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s cousin Residente (of Calle 13). The album also gave a wider audience to one of my favorite rappers, Dessa, on Congratulations [1]. She makes it seem more like an original Dessa song than a cover.

Diandra Rodriguez

Proudly Latinasian NorCal American.

2 Responses

  1. Camiele says:


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