Saturday, September 18, 2010

Afro-Colombian Hip Hop!

It was either last class or the one before that we were discussing the incredible ethnic and racial diversity in Latin countries. Arlene Davila's article “Images: Producing Culture” was partly about the homogenization of Latino(a) cultures, bodies and languages in advertising and television. Before taking this class, I admit that my interpretation of Latino(a) was heavily influenced by what I saw on Television. Ad images of Tapatio hot sauce, Bush's homemade Texas chilly, TV shows like Ugly Betty , movies like Selena and Chipotle style food shaped my understanding of a universal Latino(a). I never really critically asked myself what the categories, Latino(a), Hispanic, Mexican, Chicano(a) and countless others I had heard actually stood for. These terms were often thrown around in conversations and I came to believe that they were all the same. Recently, I've come to criticize these universalist notions fed to me by the media, music and pop culture. As Davila points out repeatedly, all categories/divisions are produced historically and are situated within the gaze of a dominant group. Advertising agencies like Univision constitute the dominant group philosophy and contribute to the erasure of a diverse Latino(a) experience mediated by differences in language, culture, religion, ethnic ties, race and history.

Last semester, my friends and I were looking for a Shakira video on youtube. We typed in something wrong and found a video of Choquibtown, an Afro-Colombian hip hop group. Ever since, I've been listening to Chocquibtown. Unfortunately, I can't understand anything they're saying but I somehow still feel connected despite the language barrier. Maybe it has to do with the compelling rhythm, the personalized yet low budget music video and the small town vibe of it. One of my favorite songs, 'San Antonio' is also coincidentally one of their most well known. The song itself displays a diversity of musical styles and dances which parallels the diversity of people in Colombia. There's rap, speech, dancing, and plain singing (sorry if this sounds simplistic). There are male and female voices, men and women dancing and snapshots of the group in their hometown, presumably interacting with their 'people'. The video ends with a sunset. Colombia interestingly has an extremely huge population of African and mixed descent. Dominant images of Colombia are definitely challenged by the presence of musical groups like ChocQuibTown rewriting a range of experiences that oppose the universal 'Latinidad'. I would love to hear what people think about this. And if anyone has time, I would love to finally understand what they're saying in this song, so please do TRANSLATE into English. The group is from Choco, Colombia a very wet and muddy place away from the main landscape of the country. I think that's where they get they're name from.

1 comment:

  1. Wow I never heard of them! Now I am a total fan! But what your post also reveals is how technology makes these sorts of productive mistakes possible, you type in one thing and that leads you somewhere else you didn't even realize you wanted to visit! The lyrics are very sweet and mellow, but the what is interesting is that the "feel" of being in harmony with community, "barrio" totally comes across in the music video.