Welcome to “This Week in Latin Music,” a collection of hot, fiery hot and diablo takes on the week that was in our special corner of the musical landscape.
Why did Bad Bunny drop a song called ‘K-Pop’ with Travis Scott and the Weeknd?
It’s a release created in SEO heaven: Three of the buzziest playboys in music record a song and name it after one of the hottest genres in the world. Then, presto, change-o — you‘ve got an instant hit. Right?
Featuring Bad Bunny and the Weeknd, “K-Pop” is the latest single from Houston rapper Travis Scott, off his upcoming LP, “Utopia.” It’s his first album since the career highlight that was 2018’s psych trap masterpiece “Astroworld” … as well as the lowlight that was his festival of the same name in 2021, which came to a grinding halt after a belligerent crowd crush claimed the lives of 10.
Scott, perhaps keen to boost morale after the tragedy, opted for more upbeat, pleasure-seeking fare to kick off his next chapter. Bolstered by an invigorating, Brazilian funk carioca rhythm, “K-Pop” is a stoned fever dream that follows the pop stars’ idyllic getaways: Scott sings of letting loose in the privacy of his tinted windows and in his scenic video dines on spaghetti alone in a stadium. Meanwhile Bad Bunny, fully marinating in his Hollywood Hills era, name-drops David Copperfield’s elite Musha Cay in the southern Bahamas — and throws a playful jab, perhaps at his girlfriend’s momager, Kris Jenner, when he says in Spanish, “If your mom catches us, she’ll ask me for a photo.”
As for the Weeknd, he does just what he’s best known for: R&B under the influence. In an ostentatious verse evoking his performance in the controversial HBO show “The Idol,” we discover that when he sings of getting “high off that K-pop” in the South of France, he’s not referring to the genre … but in fact, a lollipop coated in ketamine. Mystery solved!
THE VERDICT: Lots of competing vibes. Not enough Bunny. Stay tuned for the song’s live debut in front of the Egyptian Pyramids of Giza on July 28.
Barack Obama and A.M.L.O. share rivaling summer playlists
It’s July, which means it’s time for another summer playlist (allegedly) curated by former President Barack Obama. While his previous Latin picks have included Ozuna, Bad Bunny and Omar Apollo, this year’s diverse lineup shocked and enthralled many Spanish speakers among us. The picks include “Vampiros” by Rosalía and Rauw Alejandro; “Penas Con Pan” by La Doña; and “La Bebe (Remix)” by rising Mexican stars Yng Lvcas and Peso Pluma.
It’s hard to miss Peso Pluma, whose claim to fame has been his nasal folk croon that translates well across a broad range of Latin sounds from pop-reggaetón to corridos tumbados. Yet Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the current president of Mexico, has not shared the same enthusiasm for El Doble P, nor, for that matter, anyone coming up in the corridos tumbados scene, which he believes has promoted drugs, crime and materialism. Earlier this summer, Obrador sounded off against the increasingly popular genre in a news conference: “[Young people] can sing whatever they want, but we are not going to keep quiet when they say that ecstasy is good and that they have a 50 caliber gun, and that their idols are the most famous narcos, and that kind of corridos.”
In the interest of sharing songs that are not corridos tumbados, Obrador extolled the virtue of Mexican songs of love and heartbreak, such as Grupo Firme’s “Ya Supérame,” feminist singer-songwriter Vivir Quintana’s “Te Mereces un Amor,” and indie queen Silvana Estrada’s song with Daniel, Me “Estás Matando.” Three songs by Texas-based band Grupo Frontera also made the cut, including “x100to,” the band’s song with Bad Bunny, and “Frágil” with Yahritza y Su Esencia.
THE VERDICT: I’m not sure how to feel about the international implications. Does Obama really rock to Peso Pluma? Or is this just another case of hispandering by a president who was once given the moniker “deporter-in-chief“?
In honor of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, the Cali legends of Cypress Hill — the first Latino hip-hop group to go multi-platinum — played a funk-fueled set on NPR’s Tiny Desk series on Thursday, featuring Money Mark of Beastie Boys on the keys. Also: Read Tommy Calle’s latest write-up of last night’s Premios Juventud to find out just how many trophies Shakira racked up and why Tekashi69 couldn’t make it to Univision’s annual youth music awards show. And in case you’re free July 29, you can still get tickets to see Jorge Drexler, the Latin Grammy-winning musical alchemist par excellence, at the Ford in Los Angeles.