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Alt.Latino's spring playlist explores music from Angola, Brazil, Cuba and more


It's spring, when our thoughts turn to blooming flowers and young love and, yes, Alt.Latino's spring new music mix. And, yes, you're going to love it. NPR Music's Felix Contreras is the host of the Alt.Latino podcast and a good friend of this program. Happy spring, Felix.

FELIX CONTRERAS, BYLINE: Happy, happy spring to you, too. So I'm looking forward to sharing music with you. Like, one of the things I enjoy about this podcast is the whole music discovery thing. And I love it when it can be a discovery for me and the folks listening and now you, now that we're doing this together from now on.


MAGA BO: (Singing in non-English language).

RASCOE: Yeah. So what are we listening to?

CONTRERAS: So this requires a bit of a setup. There's a label in Argentina called ZZK. It was started by two guys from Argentina and a guy from the U.S. who was traveling. They fell in with a bunch of indie artists who were doing unexpected and magical things with electronic music and folkloric music from throughout Latin America. This track is by an artist named Maga Bo. He's a guy named Bo Anderson, who's originally from Seattle and is a naturalized Brazilian citizen now. And he's released some fascinating albums over the years. This is called "Cade Ze." It features a traditional singer named Rosangela Macedo. It's a northeastern Brazilian rhythm called coco. And, by the way, there is a fabulous compilation coming out in May called "ZZK Sounds Vol. 4" (ph). ZZK is one of my favorite musical discovery sources, and here's an example of why that is.


MAGA BO: (Singing in non-English language).

RASCOE: OK. So that seems like very good music to dance to (laughter).

CONTRERAS: It's definitely a dance groove, yeah. No kidding.

RASCOE: And it's like a - you said it's, like, a mashup of different genres kind of coming together.

CONTRERAS: Yeah, just - there's a funk beat going on back there. Some sort of sounds like Parliament. That snare drum - (imitating drum). That's a traditional Brazilian beat. So, yeah, there's a whole bunch of stuff going on.

RASCOE: Well, I am eager to hear what comes next.

CONTRERAS: OK. Check this out.


CONTRERAS: This is a guy who calls himself Batida. His real name is Pedro Coquenao. And he was born in Angola, raised in Lisbon. He's known in the electronic music world for his mix of electronic and contemporary African music. This track is called "Bom Bom" (ph) and features the Cuban-born Cape Verdean singer Mayra Andrade.


BATIDA: (Singing in non-English language).

CONTRERAS: Batida is one half of an electronic rap duo called IKOQWE, and their crazy, wild, innovative album made my list of best records of the year last year.


BATIDA: (Singing in non-English language).

RASCOE: That's lovely. Like, this - yeah.


RASCOE: Yeah, yeah. It's beautiful. So we seem to be kind of hopping all over the globe. So you mentioned Angola, Brazil, Cuba. Where else are we going on this trip?

CONTRERAS: OK, the U.S.-Mexico border. We're going to hear from a vocalist named Flores. She just uses one name. She is of Indigenous background from the U.S.-Mexico border, near El Paso and Juarez. She's from the Tigua Indian reservation. She's from a family of farmworkers and silver miners. You know, she is part of a wave of young women vocalists from throughout Latin America who have embraced '70s R&B from the U.S., like that poster of Teddy Pendergrass I see over your shoulder right now in the Zoom chat, right?

RASCOE: (Laughter) Yes, yes. I love Teddy P.


RASCOE: OK, so then from that vibe? OK.

CONTRERAS: Then you're going to really - oh, yeah, completely.

RASCOE: (Laughter).

CONTRERAS: All over Latin America. This track is called "Exito," which means hit or success. And again, the artist is Flores.


FLORES: (Singing) Get way too high to see the sunlight (ph). Don't need oxygen. We are breathing fine. Don't need oxygen. We are breathing fine, babe.


CONTRERAS: Yeah, it's got electronic vibe. But what - I hear '70s R&B in those vocals, man. I really like it.


FLORES: (Singing) We are breathing fine.

RASCOE: Yeah. I'd say - I feel like you got to let that breathe. You got to let it really breathe. Let it - yeah, let it flow.


FLORES: (Singing) Catch-22s all day for you. And if they don't act right, I will catch fate for you. But just don't let it catch us slipping.

RASCOE: We have time for one more piece of music and a little bit of backstory. So let us have it. Let us have it (laughter).

CONTRERAS: OK. This is a song by an artist named Doris Anahi. She is also a very busy Doris Munoz, who has a successful career going as a manager for other bands and artists in Los Angeles. And she is also the subject of a documentary recently screened at Sundance. It's called "Mija." It's the story of how she managed a crisis in her career as a woman in the music business and the story of how U.S. immigration policy impacts families, as we watch a family crisis unfold in her own family. It's a very moving story. It's been picked up by Disney. Here is her song "Que Sufras," a beautiful ballad she has out right now.


DORIS ANAHI: (Singing in Spanish).

RASCOE: Oh, yeah. That's very - I mean, I don't want to just say sad. But it's very, like, evocative. I liked that.

CONTRERAS: Yeah, wearing the emotions on the sleeve, for sure.

RASCOE: Yes. Well, that was quite a global roundup of new music to welcome in spring from Felix Contreras, the host of the NPR Music podcast, Alt.Latino. Felix, thank you so much.

CONTRERAS: Thank you, Ayesha. It's a pleasure.


ANAHI: (Singing in Spanish). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Felix Contreras is co-creator and host of Alt.Latino, NPR's pioneering radio show and podcast celebrating Latin music and culture since 2010.