As Puerto Rico’s independent music scene continues to expand, more artists look to find a voice in the field of electronic music. Among the many who take advantage and experiment said sounds are the west’s own Labajura and Javo Grant, the metro’s Mau Lynx and the diaspora-based Buscabulla and Los Walters. Despite the wave’s young age, musicians are exploring wide and finding their own voice within the many genres of electronic music. One of the few to release an album earlier this year was Jean Nada who, with Algo Fijo, manages to display a variety of influences from synth pop and R&B to psychedelia and experimental electronic music.
Starting Jean Nada’s debut project are “Indiscreta” and “Arzuaga,” two very sexy tracks that will serve as great additions to anybody’s late night playlists. While the first one displays more of Nada’s R&B influences, the second relies more on synth pop vibes, psychedelia and a danceable beat. From there we are delivered “Asi de Facil,” an experimental tune which fuses Latin and psychedelic sounds with dreamy vocals while maintaining an upbeat energy. Afterwards, Nada provides “Esperando,” a very funky track that is somewhat reminiscent of the vibrancy served by Shpongle. Finally, the first half of Algo Fijo finishes with “Victimas,” a song that follows the mood set by the previous tune while mixing it with a few Latin soundscapes.
The second half of Jean Nada’s debut project starts with “Nilsson,” a relaxing and psychedelia influenced song. Then we are taken to the album’s title track, a nicely detailed psychedelic and danceable tune. Afterwards, Nada provides a short interlude where he displays some of his synth pop influences in the form of “Primera Llamada.” Subsequently, he provides “Ultima Llamada,” a very funky and groovy song that will have listeners dancing in one way or another. Finally, Algo Fijo ends with “Estrellada,” another groovy track that serves as a sum of the varied sounds explored throughout the project.
While Puerto Rico’s art scene continues to grow, especially in the field of trap, many voices are taking their creativity towards the field of electronic music. Among the few to do so is Jean Nada who manages to experiment successfully with his debut project Algo Fijo, an album that shows sound exploration while displaying the artist’s own identity.
Listen to Algo Fijo on Spotify
All of the pictures in this article were found in Jean Nada’s Facebook
As electronic music becomes one of the most explored genres of music in Puerto Rico’s independent art scene, more musicians are slowly creating full-length projects to deliver some sort of concept while others provide a vibe that serves as the perfect mood setter. Last year, multi-instrumentalist Javo Grant Bassat delivered a great album in the form of Elixir Beats, what he describes as a “[w]ork music playlist” but what could be used for a variety of moods.
As mentioned previously, Javo Grant Bassat’s Elixir Beats, though described as a “[w]ork music playlist,” can serve for various moods. As shown in the first few songs, “Sigue Mis Pasos,” “Segundo Aliento,” “La Nueva Casa” and “Remedio,” the project shifts from laid back and relaxing vibes, which will help audiences study and work, to more danceable and upbeat settings that will inevitably make listeners move their bodies. Meanwhile, a song like “Reset” might serve as a way for the audience to relax and stretch if they are dancing, working or even doing a hard workout. Finally, “Larga Espera” is yet another song that can create a variety of moods for the listener as it can be a bit danceable due to its beat, but might relaxing because of its guitar work. However, if there is one thing that is certain, is that the tune will keep one active in one way or another.
As Puerto Rican musicians continue to explore electronic music, more artists are delivering full-length projects for a variety of reasons. While some might want to deliver some form of story, others want to deliver a form of mood or energy. With Elixir Beats, Javo Grant Bassat manages to provide an album that can serve for various moods be it relaxation, work, dancing or even exercising.
Listen to Elixir Beats on Soundcloud
All of the pictures in this article were found in Facebook
While Puerto Rico’s economy and overall political and social status continues to reach new lows, the independent art scene continues to serve as an avenue for all sorts of artists to express their distress and frustration in a variety of ways. One of the many fashions in which musicians have decided to let out said problems has been in the form of rock n roll and all of its sub-genres. Recently, the hardcore trio Desahuciados decided to do just this in their self-titled debut album.
DESAHUCIADOS kicks off with the post-punk and deathrock blend “Fomes Peccati,” which serves as a perfect introduction to the rest of the project. The following tune is “Emancipacion,” a sludge metal influenced post-punk tune that features some unnerving guitar solos. Then the trio take us to “Historia Breve del Decaimiento,” a song heavily inspired by classic punk rock that displays some dark imagery and nice transitions. Afterwards, we are treated to “Consciencia Subvertida,” an introspective hardcore tune about personal demons. Next we are provided with “Autofagia,” a post-punk song reminiscent of Black Flag and Fugazi. Finally, the first half of the album closes with “Amigo Fiel,” a track that could be interpreted in a variety of ways, two of which can be about the trust and honesty one puts on friends and another about one’s internal battles and how one can betray one’s regular thought process.
The second half to the trio’s debut album starts with three heavily post-punk inspired tunes in the form of “Despertar Necrotico,” “Reclusion en el Desperdicio” and “Animales Domesticos,” all of which feature heavy guitar riffs accompanied by dark, poetic and introspective lyrics which will have some listeners head banging and others thinking. Afterwards, the band delivers “Sobreviviendome,” a tune reminiscent of the origins of punk alongside space rock influenced vocals and lyrics that explore existentialism. Finally, Desahuciados’ self-titled debut finishes with “El Regalo del Fracaso,” another track influenced by the origins of punk mixed with inspiration from hardcore that touches on the subject of sacrifice and failure.
As a way to cope with the island’s struggle, many musicians have found a way to express themselves through heavier sounds. As a result of this, the San Juan-based punk trio Desahuciados have managed to do that in the form of sub-genres like post-punk, hardcore and a little bit deathrock here and there mixed with dark yet poetic and reflective lyrics which will have listeners either moving their bodies or analyzing the words.
Listen to DESAHUCIADOS on Spotify and Bandcamp
All of the pictures in this article were found in Desahuciados’ Facebook page
As Puerto Rico’s indie music scene continues to grow, more artists are experimenting with a variety of sounds to create their own interpretations. Among the many to recently have done this is Unochosiete who with his new album Adrede blends Latin rock sounds with elements of psychedelia, sampling and a bit of hip hop influences every now and then.
(cover for Adrede)
Kicking off Unochosiete’s latest project are the songs “Arrecife” and “Quizas o na (sata)” where the musician shows a bit of his Latin rock, psychedelic and blues influences in tracks that also display his Draco Rosa inspired vocals. Afterwards, he delivers “Maravillas,” an ethereal R&B tune where he provides a visually driven addition to anybody’s nightlife playlist. Then he closes the first half of Adrede with “Prrre (La Maravilla),” a funky blend of trip hop and Latin rock that will surely make listeners dance a bit.
The second half of Adrede starts off with “Nicky Jam en Haciendo Escante,” a 1960s pop rock influenced tune that displays Unochosiete’s ability to explore said genre along with garage rock influenced vocals. Afterwards, he delivers a very groove song in “Candelande,” a hip hop influenced and acoustic guitar-driven Latin rock track that touches on some of Puerto Rico’s political and social issues. Then comes “Deseo,” another tune that shows Unochosiete exploring psychedelic and Latin rock sounds while providing glimpses of blues rock. Finally, Unochosiete closes the project with a new acoustic guitar-fueled rendition of his track “Sombra de tus Labios,” which was originally featured in one of his earlier albums, la flor o la polvora.
After delivering two more genre focused projects with 2013’s la flor o la polvora, which is heavily influenced by 1960s pop rock, and 2014’s hip hop collaboration with Skeptic, UnochoSkeptic, Unochosiete returned to explore more of his guitar driven influences while never leaving behind his more hip hop based inspiration. Adrede is a short and to-the-point album that serves as another presentation of the artist’s musical capabilities, experimentation and possible mainstream appeal.
Listen to Adrede on Spotify
All of the pictures in this article were found in Unochosiete’s Facebook
As Puerto Rico’s mainstream continues to embrace reggaeton pop and Latin trap, fans of traditional lyrical rap have to go to underground and independent artists to find what they desire. Among the many young rappers to slowly gather a following has been Dorado’s Rey Varreino. After having a big impact with his single “MVP,” the musician has slowly put out a few more songs, but it wasn’t until recently that he released his debut mixtape, Chamaco, where he continues to exhibit his abilities as a young wordsmith.
Varreino’s debut mixtape starts with “Estrellas,” a boom bap influenced track produced by Christian Velez that starts to show the Dorado rapper’s skills, which are enhanced by sound effects used across the beat. Afterwards, he collaborates with E.A. Flow on a psychedelic jazz rap beat produced by Leaf Beach where he chronicles some of his adventures with close friends.The third entry in the project comes in the form of “Celestial” where Varreino raps over a PRISM LITE beat in a lyrical display that shows him go against all forms of critics and haters. Then he comes together with Jah Ire on an interesting, psychedelic and surreal production by c. ncht where he reflects on a variety of topics such as love. To close the first half of Chamaco, Varreino displays his talents as he raps about a variety of subjects such as wisdom, sacrifice and love over interesting production by The Ugly with the tune “Kombucha.”
The second half of Chamaco starts with “Ojos de angel,” a track released as one of the first few singles for the mixtape over two years ago. The song is a love-fueled jazz rap tune where the self-proclaimed Niño Dorado shows more of his emotional side as well as his lyrical expertise. The project then moves on with the lo-fi boom bap track “Tato Bien,” a song that shows more of Varreino’s introspective side as he reflects on his life. Afterwards, Chamaco continues with another lo-fi boom bap production in the form of “Zafiro,” which presents the Dorado artist rapping about a variety of subjects from love to his regular life and lyrical mastery. Afterwards, Chamaco moves on with another of the singles used to promote the mixtape in the form of “Crecio,” a song which sees Varreino rapping easily over some great Jonwayne production. Finally, the project ends with “El Niño Dorado,” a perfect closing for the short project that continues to display Varreino’s abilities and reflective lyrics as he smoothly raps over a beat by the late and great J Dilla.
As mentioned previously, Rey Varreino’s music before releasing Chamaco had already gathered him a loyal following and this project will make them happy and bring more attention to the young Dorado rapper as he isn’t afraid to balance themes of introspection, love and lyrical mastery over some fantastic production that helps him display his great beat choice and ever-growing expertise over language and how to use it to his benefit.
Listen to Chamaco on Soundcloud
All of the images in this article were found in Rey Varreino’s Facebook
As one of the least appreciated movements in Puerto Rico’s underground indie music scene, metalcore has never really seen any form of spotlight. However, that has never stopped artists from using the sound and experimenting with it to provide positive outlooks on life. With their debut EP, “Millennial Slaves,” which was released a little over a year ago, Mayagüez-based band The Poet manage to deliver a good metalcore project that might help those who are down to continue moving forward despite life’s many challenges.
“Millennial Slaves” kicks off with the project’s title track, a metalcore tune that explores the aforementioned positivity while exploring subjects such as class inequality and how there needs to be a change, a theme that is also touched upon in the following song, “Our Revolution.” However, it is the third and fourth tracks, “Stay Strong” and “Renegade,” in the EP that provide some sort of guidance towards finding said change and the band’s proposal is to have unity; that by staying together and putting our differences aside we can make the change we want. “Millennial Slaves” ends with the reflective and introspective tune “Your Memory,” a song which will have listeners thinking about those close who they have lost and thanking them for their greatness.
In short, The Poet’s “Millennial Slaves” is a short melodic hardcore and metalcore project that will uplift those who find themselves in the mud while motivating others to bring forth some form of social change.
Listen to “Millennial Slaves” on Spotify
All of the images in this article were found on The Poet’s Facebook page
The impact Puerto Ricans have had in the field of hip hop is undeniable. Right from the foundation of the genre, one could find Boricuas being part of the culture in one way or another. However, the island never really recognized this form of music until rapper Vico C made it popular in the late 1980s and the 1990s. While eventually Puerto Rico would serve as one of the breeding grounds to the sub-genre reggaeton and now Latin trap being led by Bad Bunny, the island has always failed to embrace those Mainland Puerto Rican rappers who have managed to excel in such a competitive field.
Prince Markie Dee
One of the first Puerto Rican rappers to gain some form of recognition, Mark Anthony Morales is known for his work with golden age rap group The Fat Boys who reached mainstream ears in the mid-1980s with their self-titled debut as well as The Fat Boys Are Back, Big & Beautiful and Crushin’. He has also served as a songwriter, record producer, radio personality and is currently vice-president for the Uncle Louie Music Group.
Probably the most respected Nuyorican rapper by the hip hop community as a whole comes in the form of Big Pun due to his amazing lyrical ability, as displayed in his albums Capital Punishment and Yeeeah Baby as well as multiple collaborations, which aided him to tell street tales filled with crime, sex, drugs and hardship. While the artist sadly passed away due to health complications, the respect for his work can always be found.
One of the few Nuyorican rappers to receive high praise on the island after his 2000s singles “Lean Back” and “Make It Rain” hit the airwaves, Terror Squad founder Fat Joe aided in bringing Big Pun’s work to light and to this day still receives praise for his music as he continues to collaborate with some of the biggest names in hip hop today.
The Brooklyn native born Gloria Rodriguez is best known for her only studio album, 1997’s All Woman, and her collaborative project with fellow Nuyorican rapper Thirstin Howl III, Mami & Papi, as well multiple guest appearances in the works of rappers such as Keith Murray, Redman and Xzibit.
Thirstin Howl III
An unapologetic Brooklyn native who wears his Puerto Rican heritage on his shoulders, Thirstin Howl III is a Nuyorican rapper known for his attention to lyrical skills and his ability to rap in both Spanish and English. Ever since releasing his debut project in 1999, Skillionaire, he has never stopped putting out work.
One of the few Nuyorican rappers who has successfully displayed lyrical ability in traditional hip hop while also exploring reggaeton and other pop-oriented sounds, N.O.R.E., formerly known as Noreaga, started his celebrated career in the mid 1990s eventually joining forces with fellow rapper Capone to form the duo Capone-N-Noreaga (CNN). Aside from working with Capone, N.O.R.E. has also released solo music, been featured in the video games Def Jam Vendetta and Def Jam Fight for New York and expanded to having his own podcast, Drink Champs, alongside Miami hip hop pioneer DJ EFN.
Known for being part of the hip hop collective The Diplomats, also known as Dipset, alongside fellow Latino Juelz Santana and rappers Cam’ron and Freekey Zeekey, the Harlem-bred artist has been active since the late 1990s having his biggest single in 2005 with “We Fly High.” Ever since then, the artist has continued to stay active with his most recent project being 2018’s Wasted Talent.
Born Joell Christopher Ortiz, the Brooklyn native is known for being a versatile lyrical rapper who made his debut in the Kool G Rap single “It's Nothing” in 2002 and eventually released his debut album The Brick: Bodega Chronicles in 2007. After releasing a few solo projects and collaborative efforts with the now defunct supergroup Slaughterhouse, Ortiz most recently released his latest project That's Hip Hop in 2016, was part of the Lin-Manuel Miranda single "Almost Like Praying" and is scheduled to release a collaborative album alongside producer Apollo Brown entitled Mona Lisa.
Nitty Scott MC
A young rapper with a variety of projects already to her name, Nitty Scott MC is known for carrying her heritage on her shoulders with projects like her most recent solo release CREATURE! and the collaborative effort alongside Joell Ortiz and Bodega Bamz entitled Westside Highway Story, which saw the three artists paying homage to their roots by mixing hip hop with Latino sounds under the group name NO PANTY.
The third member of NO PANTY and a very active rapper on his own right, Nathaniel DeLa Rosa has a variety of mixtapes to his name, among them the widely praised Strictly 4 My P.A.P.I.Z., as well as his most recent album, 2018’s PAPI. Bamz is also well known for being one of the leading members of the TANBOYS movement, which seeks to join Latinxs across the United States. Aside from music, DeLa Rosa is also an actor known for his work in the Showtime series SMILF.
Known for his love of New York while looking back at his Irish and Puerto Rican heritage, Patrick “Wiki” Morales is a young rapper who is influenced by all types of hip hop as well as punk rock. After exploding in the hip hop scene alongside fellow musicians Hak and Sporting Life with the group Ratking, he has slowly developed a solo career after releasing his mixtape Lil Me and his debut album No Mountains in Manhattan.
After slowly paving her path by releasing a few mixtapes under a few aliases and collaborating with fellow Nuyorican rapper Wiki in a few songs, Destiny Nicole Frasqueri A.K.A. Princess Nokia exploded in the scene with her diverse debut album 1992 Deluxe, which earned her a spot in 2018’s Coachella. Recently she released an emo rock and hip hop blend with her 2018 mixtape A Girl Cried Red.
The son of the lyrical master Big Pun, Chris Rivers does great by his father as he himself is a wordsmith who can stand on his own with anybody who controls the craft as seen in his collaborations with the Wu Tang Clan, The Lox, Joell Ortiz and Canibus. Ever since 2013, Rivers has been a very active member of the community releasing a few projects, the most recent being 2017’s Delorean.
Katorah Marrero, also known as Young M.A, is a Brooklyn native whose career began with a few mixtapes in 2015 and eventually exploded with the hit 2016 single "OOOUUU." Later in 2017 she released her debut EP, “Herstory,” and is expected to release a debut album soon. Her work displays great control of lyrical abilities while providing bangers or songs which explore topics of hardship, bravado and her life as a lesbian in the field of rap.
One of the younger rappers to be exploding right now, the Florida native already has a few projects to his name with four mixtapes, the most recent of which being 2018’s Ethernet. Throughout his work one can see subject matter related to his problems with substance abuse and other personal problems.
A Boston native who found her shot by working in the reality show Sister of Hip Hop, Bianca Landrau, or BIA for short, is currently signed to Pharrell’s i Am Other record label and recently released her debut EP, Nice Girls Finish Last: Cuidado. She has also collaborated with artists such as Ariana Grande, Victoria Monet and fellow Latina Kali Uchis.
Though she was born in California, Siya was raised in Brooklyn by her grandmother after her mother fell to drug addiction and her father to incarceration. After entering the music business at an early age, she eventually released her debut mixtape in 2011 with Elevator Music and she would not release any more lengthy projects until 2015 when she released two mixtapes, Better Late Than Never and What Never Happened. The year after she released her debut album SIYAvsSIYA in 2016 and in 2017 she put out the EP Commitment and the lengthier project 383 - For Roosevelt. In addition, she has opened up for artists such as Wyclef Jean and Fat Joe.
Easily one of the most controversial rappers right now, the Brooklyn native exploded into the scene with his single “Gummo,” which eventually led him to release his debut mixtape Day69. More recently he has released collaborative singles alongside artists like Nicki Minaj and Anuel AA.
The impact Puerto Ricans have had on hip hop cannot be denied and while many in the island mainly embrace acts in the fields of the reggaeton and Latin trap sub-genres, we can always look at our fellow Boricuas in the United States who have had left their own mark in the culture for extra insight into the diaspora experience in order to create some form of connection between island and U.S. Boricuas.
Fernando E. E. Correa González is the author behind over 20 self-published poetry books. He has been published by literary magazines & journals [Id]entidad, El Vicio del Tintero, Sábanas Magazine, Smaeralit, The Occulum and Tonguas. Other than writing, Correa is also a filmmaker, photographer and master’s student. He currently lives in his native Puerto Rico.