The Rise of Latin Music

At this point, if you haven’t listened to “Despacito,” then you’ve probably been living under a rock. The song, by the Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi and featuring Daddy Yankee, a Puerto Rican rapper and reggaeton superstar, remained number one for 31 consecutive weeks on the U.S. Hot Latin Songs chart. And, the song became YouTube’s most viewed and most liked video, with over 3.8 billion views.

When a remix of the song was released featuring Justin Bieber singing the Spanish chorus, the song reached an even larger market, gathering more success. This remixed version reached number one on the Hot 100, and remained there for 16 consecutive weeks, becoming the longest-remaining number one single in Hot 100’s history (tied with Mariah Carey’s song featuring Boyz II Men, “One Sweet Day”).

“Despacito,” however is only one recent example of the success that Spanish-language songs have garnered in the U.S. and abroad. In recent years, music charts have had a growing number of Latin artists featured. These artists, such as Nicky Jam, J Balvin, Don Omar, CNCO and Enrique Iglesias, are obtaining worldwide commercial success, primarily in the genres of pop and reggaeton. Reggaeton is an extremely popular music genre in Latin American countries, particularly in Puerto Rico and Colombia.

With “Despacito” having topped 50 international charts, including in the United States and United Kingdom, it is clear that more and more people, not just Latinos, have a growing interest in Spanish-language music. Reggaeton, Latin pop, and also Latin trap, have been growing in global popularity – with successful Latin trap artist Farruko even collaborating with Fetty Wap on his latest album, “Trapxficante.”  Spanish-language music is not just a niche market anymore.

If you go to any party with a DJ or to a club, it is more than likely that they’ll play Don Omar’s “Danza Kuduro” (which has nearly 1 billion views on YouTube) or Shakira’s “Chantaje.” Which, in addition to having more than 1.8 billion views on YouTube, is also ranked 20 in the most viewed YouTube videos.

Justin Bieber and Pharell Williams both collaborated with the extremely popular Colombian artist J Balvin. Little Mix remixed the popular boy band CNCO’s song “Reggaeton Lento.” This rise in Latin music of all genres, and its growing audience, has not only inspired artists like Justin Bieber, Pharell Williams and Little Mix, but has excelled in the commercial market all across the world.

Latin music is no longer something primarily streamed in Latin American countries, but now has made its way into the homes of many Americans and non-Spanish speakers alike.

The Sounds of State-Amor Castro and Frida Ocadiz-Ortega

It was a beautiful November morning in San Diego when I hopped on the trolly to meet Amor Castro and her cohost Frida Ocadiz-Ortega. She told me we could meet in the Communications building so I sat in one of the chairs outside of KCR’s studio waiting for the pair. I unknowingly and embarrassingly stayed in my seat as I saw Frida walk in and sit down. I had only corresponded with Amor so I didn’t know who Frida was or what she looked like. When Amor walked in I also wasn’t sure if it was her until she mentioned that she was looking for me. Such is the extent of online conversation I suppose.

With that mix up resolved, we went to leave and find a quiet space where we could record our interview without bothering anybody’s studies. We walked outside and settled on the area behind the Comm building and sat down. I could already tell that Frida and Amor would give me a good interview. Once we began, it was immediately apparent how friendly the two were and how well they played off each other when speaking. Frida suggested that I get that speech recognition software, which I agreed would clearly help with my transcription process. Ironically, because the pair are so close and comfortable with each other, I think they would have given the software trouble because they kept talking right after each other. Even going so far as to finish each others sentences at some points. It was clear that they certainly had good cohost chemistry.

I’ll let them do the talking for now, so without further ado, here’s our interview:

Cameron: Okay we are recording. I’m with Frida and Amor, and so let’s start off with an easy question. What is your radio slot with KCR?

Amor: It’s entertainment.

Frida: Mondays at nine.

CS: Mondays at nine?

FO: To ten.

CS: Nine to ten? Alright.

FO: Yes.

CS: And I heard you two have your DJ names, what are those?

FO: Mine’s MC Fridalicious.

AC: And I’m DJcito.

CS: Alright cool, so how long have the two of you been with KCR?

AC: Well this is my second semester.

FO: And this is my first semester.

CS: Welcome, welcome to KCR.

FO: Thank you.

CS: It’s good to have you here. And so another easy question, what is the type of music that the two of you normally play?

AC: Hip hop.

FO: Yeah, and top 40 music.

AC: Yeah.

CS: The hot 40? Alright. Do you play hip hop cause normally that’s what you like, or are there any other genres that the two of you, you know, like to play?

AC: We like to play upbeat music. Stuff that kinda gets you moving.

FO: Yeah. We also like Latin music. And we’re thinking about incorporating some of that sometimes.

AC: Yeah. Last show we did two songs that were in Spanish but they’re those party Spanish-

FO: Yeah, like Reggaeton songs.

AC: Yeah, or some Bachata.

CS: Alright cool, well so how come this music is important to you? Why do you like to play hip hop and this other Latin music? Do you have a personal kinda connection to it?

AC: Yes I do. Growing up I was the youngest girl, and I have two older brothers and they always listened to hip hop. So I kinda grew up with this mixture of, I dunno, Tupac, Biggie, Jay Z, Common Sense, Nas, you know all the old school hip hop songs out there. And then also some reggae and then the Spanish of course cause I’m Hispanic so, so that’s kind of like how I grew up, with all that music, so that’s what I like to play. We play throw backs too, so it’s kinda like the feel good music. So sometimes when you’re out and you hear a song and you’re like “oh my god, this reminds me of high school” or “this reminds me of this one time when I turned seventeen” or something you know?

FO: And we’re students so we understand that students are not just students but they have families and friends, personal lives, and work and so our show really is meant to be upbeat and just relaxed. Something that somebody can just listen to while doing homework or on their car ride home. Something relaxing and fun, and so that’s why we like to play upbeat music.

CS: That’s awesome. You’ve got a theme behind it.

FO: Yeah.

AC: Yeah and we do mention some school stuff, but it’s mainly kinda like, you know, after school and you kinda wanna tune out a little bit and not think about so much about school and all that. We do mention like “oh my god midterms are coming” or “finals are coming” but we also say “let’s enjoy some music and just kinda chill for a little bit.”

CS: That’s awesome, you got a whole idea behind your DJ block, that’s sweet. So how did the two of you become cohosts? How did you partner up?

FO: Well we’re actually soulmates—just kidding.

AC: (Laughs)

FO: But we’re both Communications majors and we met in a class. 300?

AC: Yeah Comm 300 or something.

FO: Yeah or 350, and we’re like “oh my gosh” and we just hit it off. We became friends fast.

AC: And then, I don’t know how, I think you have a friend that was in KCR and I was like “what’s that?” and you were like “there’s a radio show here.”

FO: Oh yeah.

AC: And I got really interested and we got information from there. And I actually got the chance to DJ last semester so I told her about it and she-

FO: Yeah I blew her off. I was like “yeah” but I didn’t pursue it and she ended up just doing it by herself. But now I’m doing it with her and I’m like “man I should’ve done this last semester, it’s so much fun.”

AC: It’s so much fun.

FO: So much fun.

CS: That’s funny how things work out.

FO: That’s why I think our radio name should be the Comm Comms, but DJcita still is kind of-

AC: Iffy about it.

FO: Iffy about it.

AC: But it’s a good one.

FO: Like you know the can can and then pom poms, I dunno.

AC: (Laughs)

CS: Yeah (laughs) that’s funny. So as cohosts would you say that you two have good chemistry on air?

FO: Definitely.

AC: Yeah. Cause we talk how we would talk off air.

FO: Yeah, and off air we have good—we just flow naturally, play off each other’s emotions and what we say, and it’s just positive vibes.

CS: That’s awesome. So is there anything—this is sort of another bit out there question—is there anything that the two of you have been listening to lately or just obsessing about, just a great song or great artist?

(FO and AC pause and laugh)

CS: You don’t need to be shy about it.

AC: I’m trying to think.

FO: I dunno. My favorite songs right now on the radio are 2 On by Tina Shay—Tinay Shay-

AC: Tinashe!

FO: Tinashe! Her name is so-

AC: Different.

FO: Yeah different.

AC: Okay I love that song. I’m obsessed with that.

FO: Yeah and then Don’t Tell Them and then the-

AC: The “about a week ago

FO: I don’t know, that’s you, that’s you.

AC: Oh (laughs) sorry.

FO: But I also like that song, that “put your knees to your elbows” song.

AC: Oh yeah.

FO: What is that called?

AC: I think Knees Touch Your Elbows or something—

FO: Yeah the one that’s like Turn Down For What, that artist I think, yeah.

AC: Sorry.

FO: I’m not that obsessed with that song.

AC: You like to dance to it.

FO: But Don’t Tell Them and 2 On yeah.

AC: Tinashe.

FO: I like to shake my butt to music so-

AC: She does it in the studio!

FO: Yeah.

AC: And sometimes we put it on Instagram and then we tell people go on her Instagram or she records me dancing.

FO: Yeah! And my Instagram is _Freeduhh.

AC: (Laughs) and mine’s Loveyaswagga.

CS: Alright, I’ll be sure to link that up.

AC: Okay.

FO: Yeah.

CS: Alright so, this has been a great interview so far thanks. You’ve been great. One last question and here’s a fun one, so could you please describe your perfect show on air? Like how would it go?

AC: Yesterday was pretty fun.

FO: Yeah yesterday we had two callers, which is really good.

AC: Or on Monday, sorry.

FO: Yeah, oh yeah on Monday. And so I think my perfect show would be to play the songs that I want, that I like, and for people to call in and, at least five callers to call in.

AC: (Laughs)

FO: And just talk to them about whatever topic we’re talking about that day and just good feedback from callers.

AC: Okay one of my favorite shows was when someone called me from a classroom and said that the whole class was listening to me, and then one of them played the ukulele and they got it on air.

FO: Awww.

AC: And it was really fun and everyone was like “yeah we always listen to you.”

FO: Last semester?

AC: I think so. And they were all happy and I was happy and that’s a perfect show, if everyone’s happy then that’s great.

FO: Yeah.

CS: That’s awesome. I really gotta say that’s really cool to have that kind of feedback.

AC: Yeah it was really cool.

CS: Alright I think we’re gonna wrap it up there. Thanks for being on.

AC: Thank you.

FO: Thanks Cameron.

Alright I lied about linking the Instagrams because I don’t have one so I couldn’t find them, but I’m sure you readers can do it if you’re curious. Also beware, the songs that I linked are rather explicit for the sensitive listener.

I couldn’t stick around and talk to Amor and Frida afterwards because I had to go to work, so we went our own ways after we had a few words. I left the interview feeling good about the state of KCR Radio. I’ve only done this for 3 weeks but I’ve already met some fantastic DJ’s who all are very dedicated to their work. I know what they meant when they said how much fin they had being on air, although personally I’m a bit jealous of the number of callers they get. I’m sure if they were writing this interview, Frida and Amor would tell you and I to remember to relax and have fun every once in a while in our hectic lives here at San Diego State.

That’s does it for this week on Sounds of State. Check in next week for my first interview with a pair of DJ’s from our very own Sports Department!

Thanks for reading.