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The Companion Album to the Critically-Acclaimed Podcast Series “La Brega”
You Can Purchase “La Brega: El Álbum” for Digital Download Here
(New York, NY — April 11, 2023) — Futuro Studios and WNYC Studios present “La Brega: El Álbum,” the companion album to the critically-acclaimed podcast series, “La Brega: The Puerto Rican Experience in Eight Songs.” The album features classic Puerto Rican anthems reimagined by contemporary Boricua artists from both the archipelago and the diaspora. In a historic feat, this is the first music production by Futuro Studios. “La Brega: El Álbum” is sponsored by the Marguerite Casey Foundation. The second season of “La Brega” is made possible by the Mellon Foundation.
“La Brega: El Álbum” features reimagined covers from some of the most high profile and talented names in Puerto Rican music today: Xenia Rubinos, Ana Macho, RaiNao & ÌFÉ, Balún, La Tribu de Abrante, Mireya Ramos (Flor de Toloache) & 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,” said Alana Casanova-Burgess, host of “La Brega.” “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 album’s first single is “Preciosa” by New York artist Xenia Rubinos. Best known for Marc Anthony’s inspiring rendition, “Preciosa” is a love song written for Puerto Rico. Rubinos’ cover brings the bolero form to the 21st century, 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,” said Xenia Rubinos. “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.”
For the album’s second single, Puerto Rican trans pop artist Ana Macho released a new take on Willie Colón’s “El Gran Varón.” The song was praised as ahead of its time in 1989 for its portrayal of a queer person’s relationship with their machista father.
Ana Macho gives “El Gran Varón” new meaning, coming from “una cuerpa trans queer,” and presents 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,” said 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.” 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,” said 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, a 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.
“The artists featured represent the absolute cutting-edge of Puerto Rican music, and the tracks they made have blown us all away,” said 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.”
You can purchase “La Brega: El Álbum” for digital download here. The album is available for streaming wherever you listen to music.
Listen to “La Brega: The Puerto Rican Experience in Eight Songs” here.
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 & 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)
About Futuro Studios
Futuro Studios is the podcast and original programming division of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Futuro Media Group, an independent nonprofit organization producing multimedia journalism that explores and gives a critical voice to the diversity of the American experience. Based in Harlem and founded in 2010 by award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa, Futuro Media is committed to telling stories often overlooked by mainstream media. Since 2019, Futuro Studios has developed a slate of critically acclaimed podcast series, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Suave with PRX, La Brega with WNYC Studios, Anything For Selena with WBUR, Norco 80 for LAist Studios, LOUD: The History of Reggaeton with Spotify Studios, The Battle of 187, a co-production with the Los Angeles Times, Radical Imagination hosted by Angela Glover Backwell in partnership with PolicyLink, and Con Todo: Brown Love in collaboration with Netflix. Futuro Media also produces the Peabody Award-winning show Latino USA, the In The Thick political podcast, the pioneering digital news outlet Latino Rebels, and Hinojosa’s newest investigative journalism and special projects unit. More at futurostudios.org.
About Futuro Media
Winner of a 2022 Pulitzer Prize, Futuro Media is an independent, nonprofit organization producing multimedia journalism that explores and gives a critical voice to the diversity of the American experience. Based in Harlem and founded in 2010 by Pulitzer-award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa, Futuro Media is committed to telling stories from points of view often overlooked by mainstream media. Futuro Media produces Peabody Award-winning Latino USA, the longest-running national Latino news and cultural public radio program; In The Thick, a politics podcast from the perspective of journalists and issue experts; Latino Rebels, a pioneering digital news outlet founded by Julio Ricardo Varela that reaches millions through its website and podcast; Futuro Studios focuses on original podcasts and programming; and Futuro Unidad Hinojosa focuses on investigative journalism and special projects.
WNYC Studios is the premier producer of on-demand and broadcast audio, and home to some of the industry’s most critically acclaimed and popular podcasts, including Radiolab, On the Media, The Takeaway, The New Yorker Radio Hour, Death, Sex & Money, and Notes from America. WNYC Studios is leading the new golden age in audio with podcasts and national radio programs that inform, inspire, and delight millions of curious and highly engaged listeners across digital, mobile, and broadcast platforms. Programs include personal narratives, deep journalism, revealing interviews, and smart entertainment as varied and intimate as the human voice itself. For more information, visit wnycstudios.org.