Chucha Santamaría y Usted: Chucha Santamaría y Usted 

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Representing Oakland by way of Puerto Rico and New York, Sofía Córdova and Matthew Kirkland (aka Chucha Santamaría y Usted) are all about the mezcla. Fusing elements of Latin freestyle, ítalo disco, and progressive politics, their new synth-driven mini LP is a soulful blend of Debbie Deb and Anita Tijoux, with hints of early M.I.A. thrown in for good measure. Handling concept, lyrics, and melody duties, Córdova impresses on the album's eight songs, while Kirkland's backing tracks, albeit sparse, keep the body moving. Topics range from the "discovery" of Puerto Rico on the simmering "Fiebre Tropical" to the challenges of immigration on "Dipsi Diver." Other highlights include the Santogold-invoking "Fanta Fabuloso," and "Bright Young Light Pt. 2," where a glowing Córdova momentarily trades in her native tongue for English. Even "Miami Lakes," which tones down Córdova's vocal presence, displays a complex yet emotional allegiance to a freestyle genre that, at least in San Antonio, still gets plenty of spins. "Making this album came out of a personal question, for sure, but if you strip all that away it should remain a solid dance album, following in the traditions that implies," says Córdova. "This isn't ironic pastiche, it's the real thing."


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