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by Rachel Devitt

March 9, 2014

Somos Politicos (Latin Political Songs)

by Rachel Devitt  |  March 9, 2014

A current of searing political critique in song runs strong through histories of Latin music. As was the case in many countries around the world in the 1960s and '70s, for instance, traditions of socially conscious and activist folk songs like Cuba's nueva trova and nueva canción in Chile (and elsewhere) rose up as a means of critiquing and outright fighting against repressive political regimes, Western imperialism and more. But of course, politics can be found even in more party-oriented genres: See, for instance, the work of socially savvy activist/salsero Ruben Blades, Cypress Hill's forays into political consciousness on tracks like "Armada Latina," or Los Tigres del Norte's musical critiques of the narco world.

Recently, the fires of the politico tradition have been fanned with not one, but two new releases by artists known for their social views as much as their sound: Reggaeton's resident rebels-with-multiple-causes Calle 13 just dropped their contemplatively provocative fifth album (featuring cameos by fellow iconoclasts Silvio Rodríguez and Julian Assange). And L.A. quartet Santa Cecilia, who addressed the plight of undocumented immigrants with last year's amazing "Ice el hielo," have also released their first full-length album. So we packed a playlist full of lots of songs like these, great music made to get you listening -- and thinking.

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