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'Turista' O Explorador: Our Favorite Latin Songs This Week

Rene Lopez's latest track is in this week's <em>Alt. Latino</em> playlist.
Courtesy of the artist
Rene Lopez's latest track is in this week's Alt. Latino playlist.

Each week, Alt.Latino brings together songs from Latin artists. Through Natti Natasha's ideals on female sexuality to Juanes and Labo Ebratt's stylized vallenato, this week's list lends itself as one not meant to be hidden.

This playlist (which you can listen to at the bottom of this page) is part ofa series of NPR Music's favorite Latin songs, updated weekly on Spotify. Catch our weekly thoughts and hot takes here.

/ Courtesy of Pina Records
Courtesy of Pina Records

Natti Natasha, "Pa' Mala Yo"

"Puedo ser bendición / Puedo ser maldición," sings Natti Natasha on her newest single, "Pa' Mala Yo." The lyric is reminiscent of the edgy wordplay of middle school Facebook statuses. "Todo depende de como me trates," she continues. Natasha isn't that malleable young girl, however; she's an adult woman who, contrary to the public perception of infantilized sexuality that her and Becky G's chart breaker "Sin Pijama" arguably, with some irony plays into, is slowly, with obstacles, experimenting with how female sexuality is treated in Latin pop.

"Pa' Mala Yo" is a straightfoward enough tu reina o tu ruina track, but the 32-year-old artist is making subtle work of divorcing female sexuality from male subjugation, no longer a chip to be gambled in the literal game of poker she plays with her male counterpart in the video. It's still sexy, but the "como me trates" line carries a weight, however surface-level for most, that love and sex are not just gifts to be received but a contract to be negotiated by two parties of influence. — Stefanie Fernández

/ Courtesy of Trick or Treat Music
Courtesy of Trick or Treat Music

Ferraz, "Turista"

"Live like you live here" is one of my favorite axioms I learned in the last year, thanks to my hometown publication The New Tropic. Venezuelan producer Ferraz operates on a similar framework on "Turista," a cleverly produced R&B vocal that calls to the kind of love that uproots you and holds you, and so too your surroundings, in a new light.

"Hoy vengo de turista / a explorar a tu sonrisa," he sings. The texture of the production is playful and surprising, complementing the vital strangeness that comes with new love alluded to in the lyrics. — Stefanie Fernández

/ Courtesy of Liberation Label
Courtesy of Liberation Label

Rene Lopez, "Once Again"

In case you missed it before, we played a track from NYC-based Rene Lopez last month. That's because the prolific Mr. Lopez is releasing a track a month. So far, the songs have been new creations but this month he was cleaning out an old hard drive and discovered this gem from 2004.

Lopez is a master at his craft and this track's slow, intimate musical backdrop is perfect for his poetic declaration of love. Again, put Rene Lopez on your Must Listen list. -- Felix Contreras

/ Courtesy of UMG
Courtesy of UMG

Juanes featuring Lalo Ebratt, "La Plata"

Juanes had a very good 2018. His conceptual album, Mis Planes Son Amarte, was critically acclaimed and "Pa Dentro" won a Latin Grammy for Best Short Form Video.

Jaunes keeps the video magic alive and gives us a preview of his upcoming album withLa Plata, which is soaked in traditional Colombian vallenato. The visuals center around a raucous adventure that moves through his native Medellin on a chiva, a communal bus used to move people around the Colombian city. Musically, it also borrows a bit from reaggaeton dembo but only enough to give it some funky bounce.

Yo, Juanes! Get off that bus and finish that record! We like what we hear so far.

-- Felix Contreras

This playlist is updated weekly:

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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