WNYC STUDIOS AND FUTURO STUDIOS ANNOUNCE “LA BREGA: EL ÁLBUM”
Companion Album to the Critically-Acclaimed Podcast Series Features Six Classic Puerto Rican Anthems Reimagined By Contemporary Boricua Artists From Both The Archipelago And The Diaspora
Listen To The First Single “Preciosa” By Xenia Rubinos; Transforming The Classic Song Popularized By Marc Anthony Into Alternative R&B
The Full Album Will Be Released On April 11th; It Also Features New Recordings By RaiNao & ÌFÉ, Ana Macho, Balún, La Tribu de Abrante, Mireya Ramos (Flor de Toloache) & Velcro MC
(New York, NY – March 21, 2023) — Futuro Studios and WNYC Studios have announced “La Brega: El Álbum,” a companion to the second season of its acclaimed podcast, “La Brega: The Puerto Rican Experience in Eight Songs.” The album will be released on April 11th via all digital music services. The announcement is accompanied by the release of the first single “Preciosa” by New York artist Xenia Rubinos.
“Preciosa” is a love song written for Puerto Rico and best known for a version sung by Marc Anthony. Xenia’s cover brings the bolero form to 21st century New York, where it becomes a minimalist alt-R&B masterpiece sung with a sense of diasporic longing. “I’m thinking a lot about my family and being the daughter of a Puerto Rican woman,” Xenia shares. “Being born here in the States and being far away from a home that you never knew, but that at the same time is very much yours.”
Hailed as one of the “Best Podcasts of 2021” by The New Yorker and The New York Times, “La Brega: The Puerto Rican Experience in Eight Songs” expands season one’s exploration into the culture, history and soul of the island, this time through one of its most-cherished exports: its music. From the lyrical boleristas of the 1930s, to the electric salseros of the 70s, to the reggaetoneros of today who have taken music from the margins and made it a global sensation, “La Brega” takes listeners on an exciting, richly-reported, cross-genre adventure that captures the ceaseless creativity, emotional resonance, and yes, la brega (“the struggle”) that are hallmarks of Puerto Rican music across eras and formats.
The second season of “La Brega” tells stories inspired by songs, from a deep dive into the queer history of an epic salsa to an exploration of the sexual liberation inherent in Freestyle music. “La Brega: El Álbum” features six classic Puerto Rican anthems reimagined by contemporary Boricua artists from both the archipelago and the diaspora. The album’s cast includes some of the hottest names in Puerto Rican music today: RaiNao, Balún, Xenia Rubinos, La Tribu de Abrante, Ana Macho, ÌFÉ, Mireya Ramos and Velcro MC.
“Each cover on the album takes a song from Puerto Rico’s past and recasts it for today, and even for Puerto Rico’s future,” says La Brega host Alana Casanova-Burgess. “These are hits we grew up with, and now we get to hear them with new layers of meaning and relevance from every artist.”
“The artists featured represent the absolute cutting-edge of Puerto Rican music, and the tracks they made have blown us all away,” says Marlon Bishop, VP of Podcasts for Futuro Studios and co-EP on La Brega. “And it’s really cool how their covers are in conversation with the topics we’re exploring in the podcast episodes.”
Trans and non-binary pop artist Ana Macho takes on Willie Colón’s “El Gran Varón,” a song praised as ahead-of-its time in 1989 for its portrayal of a queer person’s relationship with their machista father, but written long before the current level of consciousness around LGBTQ issues. Ana Macho gives the song new meaning, coming from “una cuerpa trans queer,” and presenting it with a throwback sound: 80s New Wave and dance pop. “I really wanted to make it feel like a song that a queer person in the eighties might hear,” says Ana Macho.
Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam quietly revolutionized how female sexuality was portrayed in pop music with 1984’s “I Wonder If I Take You Home,” from the Nuyorican-dominated Freestyle genre which mixed Latin percussion with electro beats and pop vocals. Now, rising alt-urbano star RaiNao teams up with electro-rumba innovator ÌFÉ for a cover inspired by the oriza rhythm used in Puerto Rican salsa. “The original Lisa Lisa song was kind of already doing a rhythm that was really similar to that,” explains ÌFÉ’s Otura Mun. “RaiNao is crushing it and it was really cool to be able to get together on this song.”
La Tribu de Abrante is known for bringing Afro-Boricua roots sounds to a live, horn-driven party band, so they were the perfect fit to cover “Las Caras Lindas,” a Black pride salsa anthem written by Tite Curet Alonso that celebrates the beauty of Black people everywhere. “No Tienes Corazón” pairs up brother-sister duo Mireya Ramos (of Latin Grammy-winning Flor de Toloache) and Velcro MC for a red hot amapiano remake of a classic merengue by La Patrulla 15. They tapped legendary producer DJ Adam, who made many of Tego Calderón’s most recognizable beats, to produce the track.
Balún closes the album with their dreampop-meets-tropical sound to “Olas y Arenas,” a legendary bolero by composer Sylvia Rexach about the place where the waves caress the sand – reimagined in the context of the fight for Puerto Rico’s beaches (podcast episode drops March 23).
LA BREGA: EL ÁLBUM TRACK LIST
1. Xenia Rubinos – Preciosa (original song written by Rafael Hernández & popularized by Marc Anthony)
2. Ana Macho – El Gran Varón (original song written by Omar Alfanno & popularized by Willie Colón)
3. Mireya Ramos x Velcro MC – No Tienes Corazón (original song written by Hugo Renato Nunez-Arias & performed by Jossie Esteban & La Patrulla 15)
4. RaiNao x ÌFÉ – I Wonder If I Take You Home (original song written by Full Force & performed by Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam)
5. La Tribu de Abrante – Las Caras Lindas (original song written by Tite Curet Alonso & popularized by Ismael Rivera)
6. Balún – Olas y Arenas (original song written & performed by Sylvia Rexach)