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Y La Bamba’s “Mujeres” music video is a call to protect and fight for all women

Y La Bamba | still from video

Y La Bamba ‘s new music video for “Mujeres,” the title track to its 2019 album, is exactly what the commanding, percussion-heavy song deserves. It features women of every demographic embracing and celebrating their femininity. The group’s lead singer and songwriter Luz Elena Mendoza said, “This song is a daily mantra to continue to protect and fight, for all women, for myself.” Continue reading →

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NON-COMM Recap: Y La Bamba call for honesty and empathy at the end of the night

Y La Bamba | photo by Gabriela Barbieri for WXPN

Y La Bamba brought their potent mix of indie-punk, música mexicana and raw emotional storytelling to the PRX stage to close out Tuesday night in inspiring fashion. Throughout the Portland band’s career, lead singer, guitarist and songwriter Luz Elena Mendoza has channeled into their performances the energies of her Mexican-American heritage and her many frustrations with American culture. A mission statement by Mendoza on the band’s Facebook page declares, “BEING A CHICANA, MEXICAN AMERICAN HAS BEEN AND WILL CONTINUE TO BE A STRENGTHENING JOURNEY. I AM LEARNING HOW TO CELEBRATE MY BEAUTY, HISTORY, BE AND HEAL FROM WITHIN IT.”

Mendoza, who is the daughter of immigrants from Michoacán, ripped furiously at the strings of her guitar as she sang and rapped in Spanish and English, railing against misogyny, patriarchy, and white ignorance. Her mission statement explains, “I WRITE IN SPANISH BECAUSE IT WANTS TO BE SUNG, I WRITE IN ENGLISH BECAUSE IT WANTS TO BE SAID.”

Y La Bamba were at their most intense last night when Mendoza rapped in unison with keyboardist Julia Mendiolea, including on their fiery opener, “Paloma Negra” — in English, “Black Pigeon.” This track served as a B-side for the title track from their 2019 album Mujeres, Mendoza’s meditation on womanhood and self-love. Continue reading →

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XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week: “Quatro Crazy” by Y La Bamba

Photo by Steffannie Walk | Courtesy of the artist

Y La Bamba is the musical nom de plume of Luz Elena Mendoza. Menodza formed the group in 2006 in Portland, Oregon, and created an eclectic mix of folk, ethereal pop, and traditional Latin music. The daughter of immigrants from Michoacan, Mexico, she’s worked with an evolving cast of players on her records, however at the heart of Y La Bamba is Mendoza’s musical vision. Continue reading →

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Y La Bamba explores growth and strength in new “Boca Llena” video

Y La Bamba | still from video

Portland singer-songwriter Luz Elena Mendoza is getting ready to release the latest album from her project Y La Bamba, and just shared a new track and video. “Boca Llena” is the third single from the forthcoming record Mujeres, out February 8. Y La Bamba just announced an East Coast tour this spring which includes a show at Johnny Brenda’s on April 9.

If you’re not already familiar, “Boco Llena” marks the perfect introduction to Y La Bamba’s infectious, Latin-infused folk; the video matches the song’s intensity with bright flashes of color. Watch below. Continue reading →

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DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist celebrate Afrika Bambaata and the art of turntablism at The TLA

DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist | Photo by Matthew Shaver | mattshaverphoto.com
DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist | Photo by Matthew Shaver | mattshaverphoto.com

In the most basic description of the term ‘DJ’ it is possible to narrow down the term to 3 categories. There is the DJ that just plays music, only presses play or plugs in the iPod or hits shuffle on the laptop. This, unfortunately, is by and large the view of the DJ in far too many circles. Second is the DJ that works the crowd, they have an understanding of music that runs deep and knows how to play to their target audience, and in turn deepen that appreciation, and build relationships. Thirdly, there is the DJ that can play an audience not the music they came to hear, but the music the DJ wants to play, and present it in such a way as to give said audience an appreciation of something that might otherwise be outside of their comfort zone. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Obscura at A-Space, DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist tribute to Afrika Bambatta at The TLA, and Cassavetes at the First Unitarian Church

Obscura
Photo via Kieko Photography

After a successful debut showcase in June, the Obscura series is returning to A-Space. The brain child of journalist and promoter Melissa “Lissa Alicia” Simpson, Obscura‘s goal was to gain recognition for hip-hop artists in the West Philadelphia area that had unfortunately slid under the radar. Local rappers Verbatum Jones and The Bul Bey are featured on the bill, as well as Luci Rising, an eclectic songwriter and poet. Click here for tickets and more information. Below, watch The Bul Bey’s music video for “Where I’m From.” Continue reading →

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Interview: Cut Chemist talks record-shopping, Philly, and his collaborative Afrika Bambaataa tribute with DJ Shadow

Cut Chemist (Photo via Facebook)
Cut Chemist (Photo via Facebook)

Cut Chemist, né Lucas MacFadden, doesn’t just make beats. He makes vibes. The DJ, producer, and mix-Master (with a capital M) has been soundtracking moments for 20 years now. He got his start with boisterous underground rap crew Jurassic 5 (remember them?)—then also took turns in Latin-funk band Ozomatli and Less Than Jake (yes, really)—in addition to creating his own, mind-blowing jams.

Throughout the years MacFadden has worked closely with fellow DJ and like-minded artist Josh Davis—a.k.a., DJ Shadow. The pair has released four live records together, and share an affinity for creative yet effortless beats. This Saturday, they’ll team up at the TLA for their “Renegades of Rhythm” tour, featuring the music of hip-hop progenitor Afrika Bambaataa. Continue reading →

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Digging For Something: Lushlife’s Raj Haldar on sample mixing, musicology and No Dead Languages

Lushlife | photo by Megan Matuzak for WXPN
Lushlife | photo by Megan Matuzak for WXPN

For the past decade-plus, rapper / producer / DJ Raj Haldar has built up a catalog of music unlike any in of hip-hop. Working under the stage name Lushlife, Haldar has carved out a very particular sonic space in the pop cultural landscape. On full-length projects like Cassette City, Plateau Vision and 2016’s Ritualize, Lushlife has explored the seemingly improbable fusion of the flossy, stream-of-consciousness approach you hear from rap outsiders like Camp Lo and Wu-Tang’s Ghostface Killah with electronic beats and dense, ornate baroque-pop arrangements reminiscent of Beach Boys’ auteur Brian Wilson.

His latest, No Dead Languages, is a unique detour back into the artist’s musical history. Compiled of recordings made at the turn of the millennium, the EP is a suite of dense, sample-heavy instrumental hip-hop and electronica of the sort that ruled the late 90s / early 2000s.

Speaking from the road in the midst of a tour with underground rap pioneers Blackalicious, we spoke with Haldar about sample / crate-digging culture, his creative process and his formative years spent bent over a drum machine, trying to find a way to fuse the disparate sonic locus points into a whole and natural musical cosmos. We’re also stoked to bring you the premiere of the title track to No Dead Languages, which you can listen to below. Continue reading →

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Erykah Badu, Phantogram, The Weeknd and more to play Roots Picnic 2015

Erykah Badu | Photo via facebook.com/erykahbadu
Erykah Badu | Photo via facebook.com/erykahbadu

The eighth annual Roots Picnic will bring its eclectic, Questlove-curated lineup to the Festival Pier on Saturday, May 30th, and the lineup is, as usual, pretty damn exciting. In addition to a set from hometown heroes The Roots themselves, this year’s “old school guest” will be Erykah Badu – the progressive soul singer who notably sang the hook on The Roots’ 1999 hit “You Got Me” (and who The Roots earned their first Grammy with in 1998, for production on her album Baduizm). Continue reading →