Locos Por Juana is a Grammy-nominated, bilingual jam band notably recognized by their electrifying dynamism onstage and their unique take of Afro-Caribbean music. The present lineup consists of vocalist Itagui Correa, guitarist Mark Kondrat and drummer Javier Delgado, who form the nucleus of the group, joined by trombonist Lasim Richards and percussionist Carlos Palmet, and at times as many as five to seven guest musicians may join the band onstage. In other words, it’s a fiesta for Latinos to rejoice. And now, they’ve released “Mueve, Mueve,” a new single from their sixth studio album Caribe, due out March 2016. The LA Times described wrote of the band back in 2009:
Blending relaxed reggae grooves with biting social commentary, hip-hop raps with brassy solos, Locos por Juana pulls listeners into a reverse Gulf Stream churning through the Straits of Florida south to Jamaica, Venezuela and Colombia, and over to Puerto Rico.
And of course, I love fiestas Latinas with a Rebelde touch. So, I had to talk with Itaguí Correa, singer of this awesome band.
Marlena Fitzpatrick: You have been around for a long time, and now you are about to release you’re sixth album titled Caribe. You released the single “Mueve, Mueve.” Explain how the song came about.
Itaguí Correa: That song talks about the beautiful ritual of dancing. It’s a great manifestation of the body. It’s not having rules to dance, to feel free. It’s about having an amazing time. It’s about being positive and forgetting about the negative things.
MF: However, all your songs are not just about fiesta and baile. You have really serious manifestations, in your lyrical content. In your song “Levántate” you say:
Se siente que la gente
se le olvidó que unidos
somos mas fuertes …
Unete a la lucha.
What is “la lucha“ for?
IC: when I wrote that song I was suffering from the abuse of the illegal immigrant, I was almost 12 years illegal.
MF: You were undocumented?
IC: Yes, undocumented for 12 years. And there many doors were closed for many reasons. So this song talks about us being humans, not being from different countries or selective because we speak different languages. The song says if we are all together we are stronger. We are all humans that love and have passion. It’s basically saying “come and join our force.” We should all come together and not be racist.
MF: And how relevant is that song now?
IC: Yes, that song should be released now.
MF: What is your take on the Saturday Night Live controversy this past weekend?
IC: My take is that I did not want to promote or participate by even mentioning that man’s name. He is not contributing anything to my community. So when I hear someone attacking my community, attacking our principles, attacking us as people, I don’t pay any attention to that. And what I mean is, I don’t even mention his name. By paying attention on promoting him, the show gets more ratings.
MF: Don’t you think by staying quiet it does the opposite thing, because people may vote for him?
IC: I would not necessarily say stay quiet; being quiet is not the solution either. But I will say sometimes you need to know how to fight the devil. You do not fight him by standing in front of him. The devil will get you. We fight by unifying our Latino people. The thing with Saturday Night Live is that there were a lot of people talking about it. It was the theme of the week. It’s so funny when you tell Latinos ‘do not watch that’; the first thing they will do is go watch it. “Curiosity killed the cat.”
MF: But like they say in Puerto Rico: “murió sabiendo.” It’s a catch-22. Now, this leads me to another song, “Rebel Champeta,” where it says:
Everywhere I go
the police follows
they say they want
to hear the sound
of my music
Is that a sarcastic take of what the police really wants with us or do you really mean the police loves your music?
IC: No, it’s a sarcastic tale of how much abuse we suffer from the police. When I was in high school I got in trouble several times. And when I was 17 I got hit by a cop. He came and knocked me out. I always saw the abuse from authority. Every single day the talk is about that, about someone just got killed by a police officer. Just recently a good friend of ours, an amazing drummer, got killed by a cop. His name was Corey Jones.
I’ll tell you how he died: His car broke down like at 3 a.m. after a gig. He stopped to call his brother in the middle of the highway. Suddenly, a van pulled next to him. It was an officer without a badge, maybe undercover. Of course, if someone comes in the middle of the night in a van, you will think someone will attack you. Corey got scared, and then he was shot seven times. He was just a guy that looked suspicious. They are abusing their power every single day.
MF: In your opinion, is this abuse exclusive to brown and Black people, or is everyone suffering it?
IC: At this point it’s across the board. There are many Latinos that look and are white. They’re abusing all of us, period. I’m asking everybody in solidarity to be human, to unite. It’s time for that. It’s time for people to stop killing each other for no reason. Black, Latinos, brown, Asian, white — it’s time for everyone to get along. The time is being wasted.
MF: Not only time, but energy is wasted, too. It doesn’t matter if we’re Black or white, gay or straight, we should all say: “When one person is abused, everyone is abused.”
IC: Yes, we should all come together, because what about the many other people who are abused but the news doesn’t come out? We have to be very careful with the media.
MF: Interesting. Great point. How influential is media with these issues?
IC: Sometimes the percentage of the truth is minimal. We have to be careful with what we hear, see and share.
MF: Are artists like yourself responsible for carrying this message?
IC: For me it’s really important. I’m a writer. Everything that I write must have a meaning, a positive message. Personally I’m a motivator. I like to tell people to enjoy life. For me, like I see my eight-year-old daughter, I want her to be happy and I want her to get along with everyone. My main focus is for everyone to get along and respect each other’s backgrounds. It’s sad to see what’s going on in the world, and the only thing you can do is pray and deliver a good message through your music. I strongly believe there are only two people with power, and those are politicians and musicians.
MF: Really? Very fascinating.
IC: Yes, we have to help the people. It’s just the power that a microphone gives you.
MF: Politicians and musicians are the most powerful people; not religious leaders, not billionaires, not weaponized individuals.
IC: Well, I may add every artist — a painter, a writer — anyone that can reach to masses with a strong message has power. That power should be used for greatness. It shouldn’t be used for sadness or do bad things to the world.
MF: We definitely need more people to think like you do because it’ll be critical for our voting results. We should vote into power likeminded politicians who mean the best for everyone.
IC: I never get involved with politicians, because I get involved with people when I believe what they’re saying. To be honest with you, I have a hard time believing in most of what they say. So for me it’s direct communication with the people. If I can have 20,000 people in a show where I can tell them “go and enjoy life, your family, believe,” for me that’s the most important thing.
MF: With that said, what is your definition of a Latino Rebel?
IC: A Latino Rebel is a person who believes and dreams that we can change this world. I strongly believe a Latino Rebel can change this world.
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