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Essential New Music: Slow-Burning Soul, Dance Floor Heat And Revelatory Jazz

Camila Meza mixes jazz, Mexican folklore and much more on her new album.
Courtesy of the Artist
Camila Meza mixes jazz, Mexican folklore and much more on her new album.

We cast our net very wide this week and bring music to both get you onto the dance floor and do a bit of self reflection.

Rosalía, "Aute Cuture"

Unquestionably rooted in the aesthetic influence of Latina and Romani women, "Aute Cuture" is Rosalía's marriage of high fashion haute couture with the institution of the nail salon. With claws several inches long, the Barcelona flamenco singer gathers a "Beauty Gang" that instills fear in camp villains like the "Green Bros." Per "Aute Cuture," the art of acrylic is baroque, ornamental for its own sake, and against the backdrop of producer El Guincho's horns and the interpolations of colloquial repetitions of "madre mía, Rosalía, bájale," it's a celebration of weaponized womanhood incarnate. — Stefanie Fernández

Paloma Mami, "Don't Talk About Me"

A year ago, Paloma Rocío Castillo Astorga took a cue from Drake, called herself Paloma Mami, and self-released her first song and video for "Not Steady," which now has over 50 million views on YouTube. With that song as well as her two subsequent singles "No Te Enamores" and "Fingías," Paloma experimented with R&B and urbanowith what she called an "elegant flow," her delicate and highly controlled voice shifting between bars and vibrato. On "Don't Talk About Me," her fourth single, the 19-year-old New York-born Chilena asserts herself outside of the clear-cut boxes of bilingual R&B she's already being placed into. In one interlude, she playfully refers to talk that she's untalented and un-Chilean. She laughs it off, comfortable in her flow "anormal" and where it will take her: "Ustedes están hablando mucho / ¿Pero quién te está escuchando?"— Stefanie Fernández

Bad Bunny & Tainy, "Callaíta"

El conejo malo is back with his first solo single since releasing his debut album X 100pre on Noche Buena in December and a string of remix features in May. "Callaíta" was produced by urbano veteran Tainy, takes place in any beach town with pelicans heard circling overhead in the background, and centers the archetypal good girl with bad habits that takes up so much space in Bad Bunny's ouvre. Given that the star of the video defied her real-life dad and his distaste for Bad Bunny to appear in it, consider "Callaíta" a chef's-kiss moment of life imitating art. — Stefanie Fernández

Jesse Baez, "Egoismo"

One of the obvious impacts of Jesse Baez's reverse immigration with his family from the U.S. back to Guatemala was his deep-rooted affinity for soul music, as displayed here on a smoldering new single called "Egoismo." He's emerged from the Mexican underground scene almost fully formed, which makes his upcoming album Nitro that much more worth waiting for. — Felix Contreras

Sofi Tukker & Bomba Estéreo, "Playa Grande"

A new song from Bomba Estéreo is always a treat. When combined with dance floor titans Sofi Tukker, Bomba Estéreo's electro cumbia is even more sublime. — Felix Contreras

Camila Meza, "Cucurrucucu Paloma"

Time to cleanse your palette from all the dance tracks with the Chilean-born, NYC-based jazz guitarist and vocalist Camila Meza. Her new album, Ambar, seamlessly glides between genres and languages. While I am a super fan of her guitar work, what she does with my mom's favorite ranchera "Cucurrucucu Paloma" left me stunned. The entire album is an artistic revelation.

Bonus: check out this 35-minute concert film of Meza and the Nectar Orchestra produced by our pals at NPR's Jazz Night In America, released just this week. — Felix Contreras

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.