Deejaying is an undeniable art form. One of the founding elements of hip-hop, it’s vital to curating the vibe in a space. A DJ reads the room, merging the innate ability to work the crowd’s energy and one’s extensive musical catalog. Although music, and in this case DJing, is a largely male-dominated industry, mujeres are shaking things up and creating their own platforms — breaking and creating their own rules as they spin to the top. Meet several Latinx women deejays that are doing just that:
Bori-Panameña DJ Bembona spins more than underground hits, a mix of old and new school, genres like cumbia, salsa, merengue, funk, plena and Latin trap, to name a few, she’s known to embed a social or political message within her set. The proud second-generation Afro-Latinx artist, also known as Xiomara Marie Henry, or Negrita con Tumbao, curates her own vibe with her monthly party, Vibras NYC. With Panama often getting left out of conversations on its musical contributions, past and present, the 27-year-old shared her thoughts and several Panamanian Urbano artists to watch with Remezcla. “My purest intention is to make sure Panamanians know we are out here doing things, and to connect, build and let our presence be known.”
A trailblazer, Jazmin Venus Soto, widely-known as Venus X, paved the way for boundary-pushing, inclusive safe space parties. With what began in 2009 as a party titled “Death Wish” at a Brooklyn bar quickly morphed into GHE20G0TH1K, a now globally known event that welcomes marginalized communities so often left out of the nightlife scene — LGBTQIA, Black, and Brown gente. The Dominican-Ecuadorian creative’s career has gone from spinning crowd faves like dembow, goth and hip-hop, among other genres, to designing a Nike Air Max sneaker, running her Planet X boutique, curating MoMA PS1’s Warm Up series lineup, and adding designers like Louis Vuitton to her list of clientele.
Spinning for brands like Genius, Nike and Rolling Loud, the newest member of The HeavyHitter DJs at Hot 97 is making her mark. DJ Saige, who is a classically trained pianist (she’s been playing since the age of five), hosts the DJ N’ Chill podcast while also deejaying on the air for the station. The Haitian-Dominican-Irish deejay is quickly becoming a sought-after talent in New York City.
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Hi I’m Perly👋🏼😃 They call me the Mean Mug Thug. The name says it all. And if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see a couple birdies fly. Just Perly being Perly😏 Battle me and you never know whatcha gonna get. You’ve been warned😎 #djperly #djlife #dj #dmcusachampion #boricua #femaledj #femaleturntablist #turntablism #turntablist #technics #rane #serato #meanmuggin #badass #meanmugthug #dmcusadjbattles #nofilter #defendingchamp #champion #hiphop #funk #soul #photosbyignaciosoltero #rane72 #denvercolorado #flippingthebird #routine #Repost @dmcusadjbattles ・・・ Tell em how you really feel! @djperly defending her national title at the 2018 DMC US DJ Finals presented by @ranedj and @milehighdjsupply @ @temple_denver! @photos_by_ignacio_soltero www.dmcdjchamps.com
This Bronx born puertorriqueña is the first woman to win the esteemed USA DMC Battle Championship in 2017, which came a year after she became the DMC NYC Regional Champ, also the first woman to hold that title. DJ Perly made history as that had never been achieved since the DMC’s founding in 1985. A lover of turntablism, the ground-breaking deejay won Best Scratch DJ 2018 by women-centered DJ magazine, DJaneMag.
Hailing from Houston, the Colombian-Cuban deejay grew up in a household that loved music. While she was exposed to Latinx genres of music in her home, DJ Ill-Set got a taste of funk, soul, Houston house and old-school hip-hop growing up, even learning to breakdance. Now, you’ll catch her performing at venues across Texas, Miami, L.A., Las Vegas, Europe, and the Caribbean.
Known for her high-energy power sets, DJ Nina Vicious, formerly known as Nina Azucar, graces the crowd with the sounds of her upbringing: salsa, merengue, kompa and zouk, among others. The Puerto Rican and Haitian creative is thoughtful and smooth in her approach on the 1’s and 2’s, even weaving in her formal musical training into her sets. Vicious has caught the attention of DJ Scratch, DJ Premiere, Talib Kweli, Tony Touch and more. She was crowned Uptown’s Best DJ 2016 by Kool DJ Red Alert & DJ Stormin Norman for the Uptown Art Of The Mix Battle. You’ll find her live at her monthly residencies, including Bed Vyne Brew Bar, Harlem Tavern, Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club and Union Hall.
You can catch the Ecuadorian-Lithuanian DJ, producer and record label founder either vibing out with a crowd during her live sets or hosting her own show on Red Bull Radio’s Bien Buena, alongside Uproot Andy. Riobamba, whose real name is Sara Skolnick, runs APOCALIPSIS, a record label and creative agency centered on cultivating visibility for narratives by those “ni de aquí/ni de allá” (neither from here/nor from there). That’s an ethos she incorporates within her sets, spinning Latinx musicians and artists that don’t normally land in the crates of her counterparts. Human rights and equity are also important to the Brooklyn-based deejay, who aims to educate her show’s listeners — and party goers — on issues central to the Latinx community.
Known to play “pretty much anything from the African diaspora,” DJ Laylo, who is ⅓ of the founding team of A Party Called Rosie Perez, has a fondness for sounds that capture “the fabric of New York dancefloors,” she shared with Remezcla. The name for the popular party is part ode to the Boricua actress, part celebration of their Latinx roots. “I do identify as a black woman, as a Dominican woman and as a New Yorker; those are the biggest parts of my identity. In many ways, Rosie Perez represents that ability to be Afro-Latina, to be a New Yorker, to be from the hood, and be unapologetic about it. And to be authentic about it, and forge all kinds of new pathways for herself — not in spite of who she was but because of who she was,” Laylo said in the interview. “It’s perfect that the party is named after her.”A Party Called Rosie Perez is also affiliated with the creative agency Sociedad.
It’s hard not to instantly think of twin sisters Nicole and Natalie Albino and their dancehall hit, “Move Ya Body,” which peaked at No. 4 on Billboard’s Hot 100. The duo also struck it big when they hopped on N.O.R.E.’s reggaeton crossover hit, “Oye Mi Canto.” Nina Sky attained stardom in their late teens and over a decade later they’re still going strong and drawing a crowd, no matter if it’s a live performance or they’re spinning overseas (or in the states). Oh, and it’s hard to miss them as they set the mood with electrifying tracks in fashionable threads.