Music can empower, strengthen and rebuild us, and sometimes, that’s just what we need to apply for a job, say “deuces” to a toxic relationship or just get up in the morning.
Artists like Celia Cruz, Maluca, Nitty Scott, MC and MC Soffia have cooked up some canciónes that center on and uplift Afro-Latinas. From love letters to ourselves to calling out people and cultures that tell us we are ugly, less than or unworthy, here are a few songs that celebrate black Latina womanhood without apology.
1. Nitty Scott, MC’s “Negrita”
Rapper Nitty Scott, MC gave Afro-Latinas the best Christmas gift in 2015 when she dropped “Negrita,” one of the first singles off her forthcoming CREATURE! EP. The half-Puerto Rican, half-African American artist told Sway the song is “about celebrating and embracing my intersectional identities and me being Afro-Latina.”
2. Maluca’s “Mala”
In Maluca's latest track "Mala," released earlier this month, the dominicana sends a direct message to people who call afro-textured hair “bad.” With lines like "pelo malo, pelo suelto como una bruja.” she reclaims what the haters criticize.
3. Celia Cruz's "La Negra Tiene Tumbao”
Cubana Celia Cruz dropped the biggest Afro-Latina hit at the start of the millennium, when she debut “La Negra Tiene Tumbao” in 2001. In a culture that pushes women of color to conform to Eurocentric beauty standards, the “Queen of Salsa” sings, "que es la negrita que tiene tumbao.”
4. Bia’s “La Tirana”
Afro-Puerto Rican rapper Bia takes a page out of La Lupe's book, sampling "La Gran Tirana" in her own song about unapologetic badassery, "La Tirana."
5. Trina’s “Da Baddest Bitch”
La Lupe and Bia aren’t the only Afro-Latinas in the music industry celebrating their badassery. Half-dominicana rapper Trina even made a song about it. Her 2001 hit “Da Baddest Bitch” proves that she, too, is someone you can’t eff with. With lines like “I’ll make him eat it while my period on,” she prioritizes herself and her pleasure, with no regrets.
6. Kelis' “Bossy” (Feat. Too $hort)
Kelis demands respect in her 2006 hit “Bossy.” Doing so, the part-Puerto Rican singer reclaims “bossy,” a word that has long been used to condemn women who dare to be leaders. As she says, “I’m the one y’all love to hate.”
7. Amara La Negra's "Poron Pom Pom”
Domincana Amara La Negra, also known as “The Queen Of Twerk,” wants Afro-Latinas like her to embrace their bodies, whatever they look like. “Nena, mueve la cintura, nena, mueve la cadera, nena, muevelo pa tras,” she sings before shaking her “porom pom pom” in her 2013 song of that name.
8. Esperanza Spalding's “Precious”
In Esperanza Spalding's "Precious," the part-Latina jazz bassist let's the world know she has no interest in conforming to others' ideas of beauty because she already has a "divine energy."
9. Everything From MC Soffia
MC Soffia is an 11-year-old Brazilian rapper whose songs aim to empower young black girls. "Children in the ghetto can't have a moment of joy. They treat us with disrespect. Who's going to find a way,” she raps in Portuguese. “Who can we trust to bring this to an end, so our black mother will cry no more? We are black children, and that's for sure. Don't take from us our right to live.” ELEVEN. YEARS. OLD.