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  • Writer's pictureMano Gil

Cumbia is diversity at its best

If you have been exposed to #Cumbia you know exactly what it sounds like every time you hear it. But if you're not sure if you know cumbia I can almost guarantee that have listened to cumbia and just didn't know that that's what it was.

Cumbia is a latin rhythm that originated in the caribbean coast of Colombia and that in itself would be enough to explain the melting pot of influences that culminated in cumbia. But let's break it down a little bit more.

There's a 2015 article on NPR that cites cumbia as being "the musical backbone of Latin America". You see, Latin America had its own diverse identity before the Europeans arrived to decimate and colonize the peoples that lived across the Americas. One of the few elements that the Portuguese and Spaniard weren't able to destroy was the indigenous musical heritage that kept on being passed from generation to generation. Actually, when the Europeans arrived, bringing their new instruments and musical styles and when they brought in slaves from the African continent, they ended up contributing to a forced cultural exchange that resulted in the incredible diversity we see across Latin America today.

No, I am not giving the European colonizers a pass for the atrocities they committed. I honestly would much rather be living peacefully somewhere in West Africa (where half of my ancestors came from) or somewhere in the North of Portugal (where the other half originated) however, I feel that humans, when oppressed, have this wonderful ability of overcoming and making something good out of a tragedy, and that's exactly what cumbia represents.

When you listen to a song from #AndresLandero, who is rightfully considered "El Rey de la Cumbia" (the king of cumbia) you can clearly recognize this mix of indigenous, african, and european musical heritage.

Cumbia is universal. You can mix it with modern electronic rhythms or pop music, or keep it clean and traditional and still have people dancing their shoes off.

#VoxBorders made this almost "Cumbia for dummies" video that shows really well how the rhythm was born and how it spread out. Check it out bellow. Also check out the video of one of my favorite modern cumbia remix with El Dusty (I hope you'll notice that it's the same Andres Landero song from the video above).

Viva la Cumbia! Wepa!!!

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