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Claudia Mercado


Conan O’Brien’s Mexico Episode Will Feature Mexican Guests and More

Conan O’Brien goes to Mexico and tries to raise money for President Trump’s proposed U.S.-Mexico wall. Sounds like the title of a 90’s Ernest movie, but it’s true. Lovable comedian and late-night talk show host Conan O’Brien shot an episode of his popular TBS show entirely devoted to Mexico. Conan announced earlier this year that he’d be traveling to Mexico City, rent a television studio, hire an all-Mexican staff and crew, and interview Mexican guests before a Mexican audience to “take things in a more positive direction,” in spite of U.S.-Mexico tensions and anti-immigration sentiments.

Confirmed guests include Diego Luna and former Mexican President Vicente Fox, who’ve both famously denounced President Trump. In a preview of the much anticipated episode, Conan roams the streets of D.F. asking citizens for donations to finance Trump’s wall. Of course, hilarity ensues as one man tries to insert a middle finger into the bank instead, and a grandmother replies to Conan’s plea, “He said Mexico would pay”—“But we didn’t.”

While the episode is sure to bring some lighthearted comedy to tough times, it’s important to note its relevancy and significance at a time when the U.S. is divided to the point of talks of impeachment and an entire state’s planned secession (#CalExit, anyone?).

Conan Without Borders: Made in Mexico will air on TBS on March 1, 2017 #ConanMexico

#ConanMexico #TeamCoco

BIANCA: The Badass LA Singer Who’s Bringing Girl Power Back

Bianca Varela (aka BIANCA) is a breath of fresh air. The LA native whose first single, “Eyes on Me,” just dropped via RnBass, talks to Musica Roots about the inspiration behind her single and sound, quitting her job to focus on her music, being a girl in a male-dominated industry, and her all-star all-girls creative team. Bianca is definitely the girl we want, and need. She’s fun, fierce, and determined to make her mark while getting the party started with her girls. Her debut single is a sexy, cool soundtrack for those chill, and epic LA nights.

Musica Roots: How did “Eyes on Me” come to be?

Bianca Varela: The song came from one night that I was out with my girls. It was last summer, I was partying a lot and every single time that I go to a party, obviously I’m dressed up, we’re all looking good and cute and there’s just a lot of girls that give me a stinky face. So I kinda wrote about that situation and my perspective: If anyone is trying to stunt on you, or if anyone is trying to shame you, it doesn’t matter, like eyes on you, go you, confidence, go get it. I co-wrote it with one of my good friends Jada, she sat with me and we kinda went back and forth, it was more of a collective thing, but I am the main writer of the song.


MR: How was working with the producer, Batman On The Beatz?

BV: Yeah, BatmanOnTheBeatz, that’s all together with a Z, he’s very particular. He’s amazing, he’s worked with a lot of different producers in Atlanta. He’s a very mysterious character. He first reached out to me via Soundcloud. He had some beats he sent over and asked me if I wanted to do anything with them and if he liked it he would use them, so I did and he liked it! We’ve been working together ever since.

MR: Tell us about your creative process.

BV: I really want to keep my music genuine to me so I spend a lot of time with the track and I sit there by myself and I create melodies and come up with lyrics. And sitting with the track and going back through it, does it feel right, does it need more, should I change this, should I change that? And that’s just my process before bringing it to the table with my creative team. And then that alone is another process. It’s constantly creating it and re-processing it and perfecting it.

MR: When can we expect another single? Do you have other stuff going on?

BV: I am working on some new music and finishing up my project, it will be coming out soon. I should have a new single early March and the project in April. We are working very hard on that. I wanna keep up with the fire, you know what I mean, gotta give you more.

MR: Definitely, we wanna hear more. How do you describe your music and your sound and what influenced that for you?

BV: Well, I’ve been influenced by different artists, at a very young age. I was very infatuated with the whole singing and being in front of people and just creating and I was driven to that part, the creation. So just seeing different artists do their thing, that inspired me to be creative and more. And also to be a great performer.

MR: Any artists in particular?

BV: Britney Spears, Missy Elliott, Ciara, Usher, Alicia Keys, oh my God. Who else? Alanis Morisette, she was amazing. I love her, I love how she was like so bitchy but then she had a little bit of attitude, and I just love that about her.

MR: Would you say that your sound came from these different artists? Obviously you’re taking your own spin and putting yourself out there too.

BV: I’ve had a lot of training with teachers and I do believe in your own art, and your own sound. So I would definitely say that I took from different people’s influences, but I made it into my own and what I felt was good and amazing.

MR: You were born and raised in LA. Tell us about your upbringing and how that influenced your sound and music and what you’re doing now?

BV: Well my upbringing was a little bit difficult. My parents divorced at a young age and I was out of my house since the age of 16. I have a lot of family that opened up to me that I’m forever grateful for and they helped me out to get by. So I would definitely say that my music comes from that. You’ll hear a lot, a lot of what I’ve experienced in those moments but that’s not even something to dwell on. It’s about moving forward and creating your own path. And I would definitely say I became street smart, real quick, cuz I had to deal with a lot of people, you know…It’s a lot of sacrifice. I actually just recently quit my job so I can work full-time on music. It’s been difficult but it’s worth it. It’s definitely worth it.

MR: Yeah, that’s admirable. Looking through your Instagram account, you’ve got really cool style, tell us about it.

BV: Thank you. Well, obviously providing for myself, I didn’t have a lot of money you know what I mean. So, actually my grandma introduced me to “Willie,” we call it “The Willie,” its the Goodwill. But, I definitely took a lot of time in thrift stores and I kinda put this and this together to bring this out. And I kinda like my outfits to be all out there and crazy. I love fashion too, so I’m always playing and messing around with different patterns and stuff. I love Buffalo Exchange too, that’s been my spot recently. You’ll find little treasures, you just gotta be patient and look.

MR: Are you working on any videos? Is that something we can expect from you too?

BV: I’m working on that as well. Coming soon. To be continued. It’s gonna be exciting, I promise.

MR: Any artist or producer you’d love to work with, or are dying to work with?

BV: I’d love to work with Missy Elliott, Nghtmre, and with Wonder Girl. She’s really badass…she’s so badass. She’s an underground producer, she has like that heavy bass and I love that heavy bass, and those high hits. I’m all about that. I’m all about all that. Obviously, you can tell from my song. I have attitude too, I’m really sweet and everything, but every girl has to protect herself and that’s what that comes from.

MR: Glad you said that. Tell us about being female in this industry. How do you overcome any setbacks?

BV: Honestly it’s been very difficult. There’s a lot of men in this industry, you feel me. So I definitely feel I was very blessed to come by good people and be surrounded with my team that I have now. I’m forever thankful for that, that’s for damn sure. I’m all about girl power. I’m all girl power. Actually, my art director, for my projects, are all women. I’ve worked with men too and I didn’t really like it, but I fell in love with Amy, Amy is my director and my photographer Migella, as well, she’s an amazing photographer, and they just know my angles man. Migella is actually the one that took the picture of the artwork.

MR: What do you envision for yourself in the next year?

BV: Well, first things first, for myself, I wanna be happy. It’s more important than anything, I wanna be happy and I wanna love what I’m doing and I wanna keep continuing to create and I want to tour the world and I want to be able to share my music with other people. That is what my vision is, for this project and more. So wherever that leads me and wherever that takes me, I’ll thank God.

Soundcloud: Bianca Varela
Twitter: @BiancaVarela_
Instagram: @biancavarela_
Facebook: Bianca Varela

Prince Royce and Shakira Give Us “Deja Vu” With Rightfully Named Single

Fresh from celebrating “Chantaje” becoming her second-longest No. 1 hit on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart (tied with “Hips Don’t Lie” and behind “La Tortura”), Shakira returns on none other than Prince Royce‘s newest single, “Deja Vu.” Prince Royce and Shakira took to Instagram to announce their collaboration, available now, and fans can rejoice as these two forces deliver the bachata duet we’ve been waiting for, and want to hear over and over again.

Prince Royce, who embarked on a North American tour with Pitbull last year does not take breaks, “Deja Vu” is the crooner’s fourth single off his upcoming album FIVE (scheduled to release February 24, 2017). A video for “Deja Vu” is on its way, judging from Shakira’s last collaboration and Prince Royce’s reputation as El Príncipe de la Bachata we anticipate nothing less than romance and sex appeal. Listen to “Deja Vu” here.

From Action Movie Star to Pop Vocalist Vin Diesel Sings on Single “It Ain’t Me” with Selena Gomez

Actor, producer, director, and screenwriter Vin Diesel is best known as a leading action movie star, helping to rake in millions for The Fast and the Furious movie franchise and starring in films like XXX. Vin Diesel can now add singer to his resume, the actor took to Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to promote the single, “It Ain’t Me,” produced by Kygo with Selena Gomez on vocals, available now on all music platforms. Vin Diesel stepped out of his comfort zone when Kygo invited the star to lend his voice to a version of the track as well, listen to it here.

Vin Diesel has always been musically inclined, he’s been known to post lip-sync videos on social media and had a start as a break dancer. While we know he won’t be leaving the big screen anytime soon, we can probably expect to hear more of Vin Diesel the singer, who teased an exclusive project with reggaetonero Nicky Jam and a video on his Facebook page shows Vin and Nicky singing on a beach. We’ll have to wait for their collaboration, but from the looks of his Instagram post it may be featured in an upcoming XXX flick?

Romeo Santos Returns In Superhero Form for Latest Single “Héroe Favorito”

If your Valentine’s Day was a bust, Romeo Santos, the bachatero responsible for wooing the masses since his Aventura days, returns to make us believe in cheesy love stories again with a single and video, “Héroe Favorito.”

Following the success of his sophomore album Formula, Vol. 2 (2014), Santos took a break, depriving the world of the love drug-laced bachata he’s seemed to master. But in true love story fashion, he’s returned, dropping his first single in three years right before Valentine’s Day. In “Héroe Favorito,” Santos croons to his love interest, so desperately wishing he was the Hulk, Batman, Superman, and even The Flash, so he can save her from a boring (and abusive) rich boy, and love her right. Of course Santos gets the girl and special effects turn our bachatero into the superhero he is so he can win over his damsel in distress and the two share a kiss à la Spiderman. The song, and video are the epitome of cheesy, but oh-so-romantic kind of stuff that’s made for the movies. Let’s give it to Santos to inspire some real-life superhéroe’s and love stories with his latest single and visuals.

Follow Romeo Santos on social media for more from his upcoming album Golden, rumored to drop in May 2017. And watch the video here.

Twitter @RomeoSantosPage
Instagram @romeosantos

Oakland-Based Duo Los Rakas Tease Newest Project Raka Love 2

Raka Rich and Raka Dun, who collectively make up Los Rakas, a hip-hop, reggaeton, reggae, and dancehall group who’ve coined their musical style “Panabay,” an homage to their Panamanian descent and Bay Area upbringing, have been hyping up their newest project and recently released a video for their single, “Besame.”

Los Rakas, cousins with an urban-Latino musical style and a conscious soul, have been making music since the early 2000s and have gained much of their success without the help of a major label. Their full-length album El Negrito Dun Dun & Ricardo (2014), received acclaim for its wide range of genres that culminated in a soulful and eclectic celebration of beats. The duo regularly sing in both English and Spanish, reverting between the two languages and have kept their roots heavily embedded in their music. Their name is derived from the Panamanian slang word “Rakataka,” someone from the ghetto—which Los Rakas have reclaimed to give it a positive meaning, proudly calling themselves “Raka.” Label or no label aside, Los Rakas have already made waves, performing alongside legends like Cypress Hill, Snoop Dogg, and Manu Chao at Smoke Out Festival and collaborating with producer Diplo.

Los Rakas will be performing in Los Angeles on 2/10/17 and in San Francisco on 2/19/17 before heading off to Colombia. Raka Love 2 will release on February 14, 2017 and is available for pre-order. See the video for their first single from Raka Love 2 here.

Twitter @LosRakas
Instagram @losrakas
Facebook Los Rakas

Gabriel Garzón-Montano: The Colombian-French Musical Genius You Need To Know

Back in 2014, Gabriel Garzón-Montano released an EP called Bishouné: Alma del Huila, a sultry, jazzy, and all-around smooth compilation of songs he wrote, composed, and produced all on his own. A couple months later, Gabriel’s sultry vocals and beats from “6 8,” off his debut were sampled on Drake’s “Jungle,” the rest as they say, is history.

Sampling by arguably the best rapper alive aside, Gabriel Garzón-Montano is a multi-talented artist that deserves stand-alone credit. The French-Colombian musician can play the violin, drums, guitar, piano, and bass, talents he utilized to seamlessly create his EP and debut studio album Jardín, which released on January 27, 2017. Garzón-Montano credits his French background for his meticulous work ethic and his Colombian roots for his musical tastes, including salsa and cumbia. Jardín is a hauntingly beautiful album you can feel in your skin, to put it frankly, baby-making music. To categorize Gabriel’s music as simply R&B, neo-soul, or even mainstream versus Latino, would be banal, there are layers to his musical genius. And while Gabriel doesn’t sing in Spanish, or come off as an immediately Latino music artist, it is inspiring to see a masterfully-skilled musician of Latino background gaining mainstream acclaim.

If you’re in the Los Angeles area you may want to check out Gabriel performing at Amoeba Hollywood on 2/2/17 and at Fingerprints Music in Long Beach on 2/3/17 before he heads off on a European tour. Check out his website for the latest, and be sure to follow Gabriel Garzón-Montano on social media. See the video for “Crawl” here.

Soundcloud Gabriel Garzón-Montano
Instagram @gabrielgarzonmontano
Twitter @MrGabrieLorenzo
Facebook Gabriel Garzón-Montano

Daddy Yankee and Natti Natasha Give Us Desert Romance in Latest Video for “Otra Cosa”

We’re calling “Otra Cosa,” the single by El Rey de Reggaeton Daddy Yankee and the up and coming Natti Natasha, the love anthem of 2017 thus far. The single was released via Pina Records last month, and is the first single off the label’s highly anticipated compilation La Súper Fórmula, featuring the very best of musica urbana y reggaeton from the hottest Latin music artists .

The video for the the single “Otra Cosa,” dropped on Friday, January 27, 2017, and is just as sexy as the track. Daddy y Natti tease us in a pink desert we could only make up in our dreams and the song is a nice blend of pop, reggaeton, and Caribbean beats. Natti Natasha’s first studio Album All About Me was released in 2012, and although the super talented Natti has already signed on Don Omar‘s label and collaborated with other artists like Farruko, we really get a taste for the Dominicana’s musical range. Daddy Yankee doesn’t fall short, reminding us why he’s the King of reggaeton. Watch the video here while we wait for La Súper Fórmula.

Nu-Cumbia’s Master El Dusty Releases Video for Newest Single “La Chusa”

Dusty Oliveira, the Tejano DJ better known as El Dusty and responsible for dubbing the sub-genre nu-cumbia, released a video to his latest single “La Chusa,” and it is gold. The track is about Texan urban legend, La Chusa, an owl with the face of an old woman taunting passerby while perched on top of your house. But more importantly, the single is a fusion of cumbia and electro, a blend that El Dusty has seemed to perfect, apparent with his 2016 Latin Grammy nomination for “Cumbia Anthem.”

El Dusty has been spinning techno cumbia since his days in his native Corpus Christi, TX for all the Mexican-American ravers. A self-taught DJ, El Dusty came into the spotlight back in 2012 with the single “K Le Pasa,” which rightfully earned him a contract on the label AFTERCLUV. For “La Chusa,” El Dusty collaborated with Toy Selectah and Mexican Institute of Sound‘s Camilo Lara, diving into an archive of cumbia tracks from the 60’s and 70’s, sending the beat to Mexico City and Austin, TX, to be chopped up and repurposed into the cool, electro-cumbia you either want to dance, or cruise around to. The video for the single, produced and animated by Mexican artist, Omar Juarez “EL OMS“, takes us back to the lowrider heydays of the 90’s.

El Dusty will be performing at EDC Mexico 2017, but has been in LA recently, spinning cumbia at locals bars and venues. Check out El Dusty on social media to be in the know.

Twitter @djdus
Instagram @eldusty
Facebook El Dusty
Soundcloud El Dusty

CALIBASH 2017 Pre-Festival Introduces LA to Promising Young Stars

CALIBASH 2017 returned to Los Angeles this weekend where the legendary Wisin, Prince Royce, and Don Omar rocked the Staples Center on Saturday, January 20, 2017. While Don Omar shut the night down, also in attendance were Nicky Jam, Farruko, Zion & Lennox, Ozuna, J Alvarez, Gente de Zona, CNCO, De La Ghetto, Alex Sensation, and special guest Arcangel. If you missed the show you can still catch CALIBASH Las Vegas where Ricky Martin will also be performing, get tickets here.

The CALIBASH Pre-Festival took place outdoors pumping up the crowd before the main event. The pre-show was not without excitement as guests were introduced to some hot, new Latin music artists we’re sure to be hearing everywhere soon and anticipate as the next biggest stars in Latin music y reggaeton.

Karol G

Karol G was a contestant on the Colombian version of The X Factor and has already collaborated with some of the most popular reggaetoneros like Nicky Jam and Ozuna.

Karlos Rosé

This bachatero from the Dominican Republic is sure to be turning heads with his bachata covers of songs like “Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars.

Kevin Roldan

In 2014, Kevin Roldan was known on the Billboard charts with the single “Salgamos” featuring Maluma and Andy Garcia. Kevin hyped up the crowd at CALIBASH Pre-Festival letting fans know he’d be headlining the main stage next year.

Sebastián Yatra

Sebastián Yatra was named one of the emerging Latin artists worldwide by Spotify and continues to climb charts with his remix to the successful “Traicionera.”

Tomás The Latin Boy

“El Reggae” by Tomás is sure to be an anthem this summer.

Natti Natasha

Natti Natasha has been featured on Farruko’s “Crazy in Love” and collaborated with Daddy Yankee on “Otra Cosa.”

ATL Garza

ATL‘s newest single “Todo Para Mi” is the perfect blend of pop y bachata.