These seven songs are our jams. Be they about women embracing their power, dropping the wrong man, or simply feeling themselves, these are the songs by fierce Latina musicians we want to listen to as we get ready in the morning or blast in the car after a long day at school or work. These tunes will make you wanna grab your girls and fight the patriarchy together.
“Ella” by Bebe
It’s been out for more than a decade, but “Ella” is still one of those songs that demands to be heard at full volume. A standout from Spanish singer Bebe’s 2004 debut Pafuera Telarañas, it’s a total “get your groove back” jam. Its cheerful pop beat is the perfect salve for a bad day at work, a fight with mami, or the final stages of getting over a bad breakup. Look in the mirror and tell yourself: “Hoy, vas a ser la mujer, que te dé la gana de ser,” and shake off the cobwebs.
“Siete-D” by Gina Chavez
At first listen, “Siete-D” is simply a song about taking the bus. But, lean in to this danceable track from Austin-based musician Gina Chavez, from her 2014 album Up.Rooted, and you’ll hear that it’s really about: Daily life overcoming obstacles in San Salvador, where gangs paralyzed public transportation. Nevertheless, brave young women persist; and the song features four who are pursuing higher education thanks to a college fund created by Chavez and her partner. These girls didn’t let anything stop them from opening doors; they had to “pegar para que abren la puerta.”
“Esa Noche” by La Dame Blanche
When you want to feel like a total badass, this is your jam. Paris-based Cuban musician La Dame Blanche, French for “the white woman,” mixes hip-hop, cumbia, dancehall, and reggae to create a style as original and fearless as her lyrics. “Yo no le tengo miedo a na’ / Yo ando en la carreterra, solita en la cuidad,” she raps. Born Yaité Ramos, La Dame is an accomplished flautist and daughter of Jesús Ramos, director of the Buena Vista Social Club, and while she may weave those influences into her sound, her music is completely fresh, new, and something you’ll want to listen to over and over again.
“Corazón Nómada” by Rebeca Lane
A romantic relationship, at its best, strengthens and empowers. That’s the kind of love that Guatemalan rapper and poet Rebeca Lane celebrates in her track “Corazón Nómada” from her 2012 album Dulce Muerte. Many of Lane’s songs are bold, feminist, and celebrate women’s power and spirit, (and this track is certainly all of those things) they also ditch the conventional love song tropes in favor of rewriting the narrative on the couple’s own terms. “Quiero la libertad de amar sin sufrimiento / Sin etiquetas / Inventarnos algo nuevo,” she sings.
“Mi Libertad” by Monsieur Periné
It’s hard to define Monsieur Periné’s sound, but that’s precisely why this indie band is so cool. A fusion of swing, gypsy, cumbia, and jazz by way of Colombia, this trio is quite unlike any other. “Mi Libertad,” off their 2015 sophomore album Caja De Música, reminds listeners to embrace and express their own uniqueness without fear. You won’t be able to stop singing the hook: “Por mis venas corre fuego / Mis ojos brillan en la oscuridad / Y mi voz hambrienta no tiene miedo / De cantar por siempre mi libertad.” The acoustic version features a performance stripped down to the basics, but it’s still fire.
“I Won’t Cry for You” by La Santa Cecilia
While Lane sings of the right kind of love, La Santa Cecilia reminds us that life’s too short to be with the wrong love. When a romance isn’t satisfying – in any sense of the word – an independent woman knows that it’s time to say goodbye and go in search of a more fulfilling relationship. “Don’t like rides that take me nowhere, I’m getting off,” belts out lead singer La Marisoul without a shred of heartbreak. All in all, “I Won’t Cry for You,” from 2016’s Buenaventura, is the happy breakup song we need. The Spanish-language version is also amazing.
“Antipatriarca” by Ana Tijoux
There are a million reasons to love “Antipatriarca,” French-Chilean hip-hop artist Ana Tijoux’s fierce ode to fighting the patriarchy. One, naturally, is because it’s a modern feminist anthem. Another is because the video features women – and some men – from different walks of life, races, ages, and abilities coming together in support of Tijoux’s liberation song. Another still is because this song, and the others off her 2015 album Vengo, features indigenous Latin American instruments and sounds. Finally, it’s empowering lyrics reminds you that you are una “Mujer fuerte, insurgente / Independiente y valiente.”