“Mississippi Lullaby:” A Music Video About a Private Prison

We saw this via the Prison Culture blog, and even though at first we balked at the pop-like feel of the song, we listed and then we read some more.


Yes, a catchy (maybe sappy) music video about private prisons that in the end is actually a bit tender and moving.

As the artist Lara Herscovitch writes on her YouTube channel:

The United States is the world’s largest jailer: it has less than 5% of the world’s population, and about 25% of the world’s prisoners. On any given day in America, over 70,000 children are in custody; 10,000 of them in adult jails and prisons. An estimated 250,000 children are tried, sentenced, or incarcerated as adults every year across the U.S. Most of them are charged with non-violent offenses.

The song Mississippi Lullaby was first inspired by National Public Radio (www.npr.org) reports about the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility in Mississippi. “The Grove” is an example of the inherent conflict between profit and rehabilitation. Typically, staffing is kept at a minimum, often well below recommended standards; programs for education and treatment for substance abuse and mental health issues – things that will help a person succeed in society and life when they are released – are cut. Private prison company lobbyists influence legislators, resulting in harsher policies and more people behind bars (which is good for business). Regulation and monitoring is often minimal.

The number of people in private prisons in the U.S. has increased by 353.7% over the past 15 years.

A local facility like Walnut Grove is also one of many examples of the so-called “prison industrial complex.” Though in practice the facility hurts kids and in fact teaches them to become better criminals, it’s also seen as a welcome source of jobs and income in a struggling town. In Walnut Grove, there were twice as many kids in prison as citizens.

Children in the facility, with the ACLU and Southern Poverty Law Center, filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the GEO Group and the state of Mississippi. U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves, who oversaw the case, wrote, “what happened at Walnut Grove ‘paints a picture of such horror as should be unrealized anywhere in the civilized world’” (bloomberg.com). Kids under the age of 17 were subsequently ordered to be removed from the facility and placed in a publicly-run one instead.

Learn more and get involved:
Campaign for Youth Justice – www.campaignforyouthjustice.org
Justice Policy Institute – www.justicepolicy.org
National Juvenile Justice Network – www.njjn.org
The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth – www.fairsentencingofyouth.org

Meet NYC’s Psychedelic Salsa Band La Mecánica Popular

Finally, a band that sounds like 2014 New York City.

Forty years after the emergence of Fania Records in the same city, a future-looking Latin sound breaking barriers is connecting the roots, rhythms & future possibilities of tropical music. Meet La Mecánica Popular. On the heels of a steady rising breakout year which has seen the band perform & refine their “Psychedelic Salsa” sound in venues all over the city, as well as advance to become one of just three national finalists in Dewar’s “Dewaristas: The Search for the Next Great Latin Sound,” (Juanes: “La banda suena de puta madre!“) Brooklyn record label, Names You Can Trust presents the group’s debut album to a worldwide audience.  You can get it on iTunes (buy) or order the beautiful vinyl LP (buy).

Art by Muriel Holguin

The album features guest percussionist Louis Bauzo (Fania Records) & was produced by Xuxi Lazaro (Rita Indiana & Juan Luis Guerra). Led off by the lead single and official video which dropped earlier in the year on NYCT, “La Paz Del Freak,” the 9-track album of original compositions was recorded between NYC & Peru, weaving it’s way around the traditional stylings of Salsa & Bolero, with a heavy dose of eléctrico, incorporating a blend of Peruvian guitars & experimental synths, sounds and textures.

Upcoming Shows in New York City:

Monday, February 10 @ Taj
Friday, February 21 @ Nublu Friday
February 28 @ SOBs
Friday, March 21 @ Nublu

The band was featured in the NY Daily News in print last year about their breakthrough sound. You can read the full piece here.

Check out this interview with Sounds & Colours with band director, Efrain Rozas:

Is chicha or Peruvian cumbia a big influence on the sound of La Mecánica Popular?
Definitely. 3 of us come from Peru, we grew up listening to that music. Peruvian cumbia musicians had the psychedelic sounds in their phrasing, arrangements, sound effects, and at the same time had a killer rhythm section. That is what LMP is about! Being trippy but keeping the clave, the best of both worlds.

Are there any other big Latin psych influences on your music?
Salsa artists like Ray Barretto and Eddie Palmieri … you can hear psychedelia in their amazing arrangements and soloing. They were far out but were always close to the people, making them dance. I have to mention, although he is not Latin, the electric era of Miles Davis. It had a tight, funky groove, but at the same time they were flying on top of that with open improvisations. All of them are amazing musicians I can always go back to their records and learn something new.

Was it a conscious decision to add guitar to the band to take the music into new territory?
In our band guitar and synths replace the horns section. Instead of using harmonies and wind arrangements we go for textures, ambiance and rhythm using these instruments. This gives us a different sound from salsa, afrobeat or cumbia bands, it’s part of a quest for new musical possibilities which include psychedelia. In this we follow Peruvian cumbia where the guitar has a main role.

Do you see there as being a Latin psych scene in New York with young people listening to new variants of Latin music and bands trying different things with Latin styles?
This is something new. And it is exciting to do something new in New York! But it is also hard work. We are building a scene with bands like M.A.K.U. Soundsystem or Diego Bodego and I know it will be huge in a little while. There are a lot of people in the Latin and experimental scenes in this city. Our goal is to bring them together, make them dance and trip away at the same time.



Rebelsounds and Latino Resiste Present “EZLN: 20 Years” (A Musical Compilation)

EDITOR’S NOTE: So we asked our friends at Latino Resiste if we could republish their latest piece, which contains free downloads of musical compilations honoring the Zapatista movement as it celebrates its 20th anniversary. They said yes, and we are honored to share the post here.


For many of you, the Zapatista is just a part of the iconography that has been going around from actually mid 90’s and slowly got into a more fashionist way of being rebellious.

For many of those who were in the actual jungle, 20 years ago, it was their time to face the biggest enemy any indigenous group can handle: Their own government.

It is amazing how just few hundred of campesinos (farmers) who are direct descendants of the Indigenous tribes that once populated the whole American continent achieved to get a highlight in their struggles in a pre-social media era, putting in evidence the corruption and mischievous way of governments to treat their aboriginal communities.

The Zapatista represented not only the Mexicans; they represented the whole continent’s struggles.

20 years ago, the whole planet moved even for a slip of a second to that jungle, and the gov, didn’t have any other choice that listen to their demands, because they knew everyone was paying attention.

Back in those days many artists decided to paint a musical landscape in support of that community.

Jungle, Mestizo, Cumbia, and Rock-grunge were killing it.

So the first musical compilations that supported EZLN, came from that direction, bands like Rage against the Machine, Manu Chao, Asian Dub Foundation, Fermin Muguruza, Sergent Garcia, and many more decided to add their music and got inspired by their fight.

Fast forward to 2014.

The campesinos struggles are exactly in the same spot.

Although many things changed, and let’s be fair—in many ways, there had been a slight improvement. In reality, 20 years after, the power pyramid remains intact.

New struggles came in these two decades, from cultural appropriation to Land given to the corporations for mining purposes, to the actual selective killing of Indigenous political members; these communities keep facing five centuries of oppression.

We also now have learned we are not going to win, or change anything drastically in the political landscape of these countries.

But we bet all of our efforts to let the system know, that we will do anything in our power to reverse these situations.

There have been many small changes all separated, that when you add them up, they create a whole context for the Indigenous communities and empower them.

From the Bolivian refusal of using genetic modified seeds, and kicking out McDonalds, to the name drop of a local sport team in Canada in where a disrespectful name and mascot made very uncomfortable aboriginals and their families; to the actual legal fights in Brazil for the Amazon territories passing thru Colombian or Chilean strikes, this Zapatista fight represent everyone!

Not just the Mexican, but the whole continent.

And we needed to be consequent with today’s musical landscape, but we still need to keep a tight relation with the initial movement and their supporters since day one.

That is why we are extremely happy to announce for the first time ever, we can get together pioneers and current legends, as well as a whole bunch of big names, and obviously in Latino Resiste style unveiling unknown producers, but equally talented.

Because this is not about names, this is about the fight, the struggles; it is about connecting young people, of this moment of history, with this particular issue.


The compilation starts with Indigenous Resistance & Asian dub foundation dropping their super killer track, Esta tierra no esta a la venta ( This land is not for sale).

Then we strike with A Tribe Called Red joining Mexican producer Javier Estrada, for a fast-paced super crazy track called Indigenous Power, in where Pow Wow meets Tropical Bass.

This track is NOT a Mano Negra remix per se. It was actually made by the original composer, Thomas Darnal, who was the keyboard of Mano Negra, and also the mastermind in p18, which were both featured in the original rumors of war compilation which was the OST of the Zapatista Revolution in 1994.

Next; Being an “all star” project from pretty much every big underground band of Colombia supporting the Campesino Strike, Papa con Yuca is the perfect track to show Indigenous support meets Musical richness.

Less known, but equally talented, Chilean Mr Toé and Dj Subversivo, spent a great amount of time in the actual Jungle, learning from Aboriginal tribes, and living with them before going back to civilization and start mixing those experiences with music.

Rebelsounds founder members David Raga submitted that Jose De Molina badass track that represent perfectly his knowledge about the actual Zapatistas, and the original EZLN members musical taste, as well as the most radical side of the political spectrum.

Also Rebelsounds member, and always conspirator Caballo drops his Latin tune Amolao (Struggled).

The whole Booklet is AMAZING, art was made by Rebelsounds’ art director Punker, and the actual EZLN political support is given from Rebelsounds’ very own Hannibal whose mestiroots are having the official blessing from EZLN sympathizers.



FREE. We know… from a credible source, the Mexican and actually a few South American govs will try to take this one down, as it distorts the reality they want to sell it through the media.

¡REBELSOUNDS & Latino Resiste! ¡Aguante la lucha Indígena!

For more, visit Latino Resiste.

Our English Translation of Calle 13′s Powerful “Multi_Viral” Video

Last night we posted this: the new video from Calle 13 called “Multi_Viral.” (Sorry for the YouTube ad.)

Already people are asking us about the lyrics.


Here is the Spanish (this video was done by another user with lyrics, our translation in English is below):

Todo empieza con una llamarada
cuando despedimos llamas de nuestra mirada
quieren detener el incendio que se propaga
pero hay fuegos que con agua no se apagan
y se acerca la linea policíaca
los músculos se tensan
y aumenta la frecuencia cardíaca
suben los niveles de testosterona
y empieza ese momento
en el que se enfrentan las personas
cuando, somos amigos del coraje
cuando gritar se convierte
en nuestro único lenguaje
a mi me ordena la razón
a ti te ordena un coronel
si nuestra lucha es de cartón
la de ustedes es de papel
no nos paran, por que un mensaje contundente
convierte a cualquier teniente
en un tiburón sin dientes
el estado nos teme por que al mismo tiempo
somos 132 y 15m,
si la prensa no habla nosotros damos los detalles
pintando las paredes con aerosol en las calles
levanto mi pancarta y la difundo
con solo una persona que la lea
ya empieza a cambiar el mundo…

crece la ola crece la espuma
cuando cada vez mas gente se suma

el que controla, el que domina
quiere enfermarte pa’ venderte medicina
y nos endrogan, nos embrutecen
cualquier pregunta que tengamos la adormecen
son las mentiras recalentadas
nos alimentan con carne procesada
y la gente sigue desinformada
una noticia mal contada
es un asalto a mano armada
nos infiltramos, nos duplicamos
como las células nos multiplicamos
al que no quiere caldo se le dan dos tazas
somos la levadura que levanta la masa
nuestras ideas son libres y están despiertas
porque pensamos con las puertas abiertas
lo que no sé ve lo estamos viendo
nacimos sin saber hablar
pero vamos a morir diciendo…

crece la ola crece la espuma
cuando cada vez mas gente se suma

And here is a translation we did:

It all starts with a flare
we expel the flame from our eyes
they want to stop the fire spreading
but some fires can’t be extinguished with water
and as you approach the police line
muscles tense up
and your heart rate increases
testosterone levels rise
and then begins the moment
which people face
when we are friends of courage
when yelling becomes
our only language
my reason gives me my orders
while a colonel orders you
if our struggle is cardboard
yours is made of paper
it not stop us, because a strong message
turns any lieutenant
into a toothless shark
the state fears us at the same time
we are 132 and 15m,
if the press does not talk, we provide the details
spray painting walls on the streets
lift up my banner and I spread it
if only one person reads it
the world begins to change

a growing wave foams and gets bigger
when more and more people are added to it

he who controls, who dominates
wants to make you sick to sell you medicine
and they drug us, brutalize us
any questions we have they numb them
the lies get overheated and reheated
we are fed processed meat
and the people still stay uninformed
a poorly told story
it’s an assault with a deadly weapon
we infiltrate, we duplicate
like cells that multiply
those who don’t want are given two bowls
we are the yeast that raises the dough
our ideas are free and awake
because we think with open doors
what we don’t see, we are seeing
we were born unable to speak
but we will die saying …

a growing wave foams and gets bigger
when more and more people are added to it

Calle 13′s “Multi_Viral” (VIDEO)



Calle 13. Tom Morello. Palestinian artist Kamilya Jubran. And, oh yeah, Julian Assange. (BTW, YouTube ruins it by placing a 30-second ad before the song starts.)

“Drop It Like It’s Hot” Spoof Video: Best Obama Rap Impression Ever

This is for all of you who have a sense of humor.


This dude (Alphacat on YouTube) sounds just like President Obama. Classic. And yeah, it is a clever way to #GetCovered.

Now let’s see an immigration one.

One of the Greatest Guilty Pleasures Song Ever: “Rock en la TV” by Menudo (VIDEO)

We miss the early 80s.


Hit it, boys.

In case you need to the lyrics (read with Spanish as your first language, it’s not “Buggy” it’ “Boogie”:)

Buggy, buggy, buggy,
buggy, buggy, buggy, buggy.
Buggy, buggy, buggy,
buggy, buggy, buggy, buggy.

La primera vez te vi bailando rock ‘n roll
Y la cabeza me sonó bang-bang.
Yo no supe qué decir, no supe qué pensar
Y la cabeza me sonó bang-bang.

Me enamoré,
De tu forma de bailar y tu dulce sonrisa.
Me enamoré,
Y aunque tú no lo creas, quiero llamarte
Tengo que buscarte nena entre las ondas.

No me cambies de canal,
Sigue así en televisión
No puedo ya vivir sin ti.

Por eso canto en la televisión,
Canto rock en la televisión,
Bailo y canto en la televisión,
Porque quiero que te fijes en mí.

Por eso canto en la televisión,
Canto rock en la televisión,
Bailo y canto en la televisión,
Porque quiero que te fijes en mí.

Buggy, buggy, buggy,
buggy, buggy, buggy, buggy.
Buggy, buggy, buggy,
buggy, buggy, buggy, buggy.

La segunda vez te vi soñando enamorada,
Y mi corazón bailó rock ‘n roll.
Pues era yo el chico a quien tu amabas,
Y mi corazón bailó rock ‘n roll.

Me enamoré,
De tu forma de bailar y tu dulce sonrisa.
Me enamoré,
Y aunque tú no lo creas, quiero llamarte
Tengo que buscarte nena entre las ondas.

No me cambies de canal,
Sigue así en televisión
No puedo ya vivir sin ti.

Por eso canto en la televisión,
Canto rock en la televisión,
Bailo y canto en la televisión,
Porque quiero que te fijes en mí.

Por eso canto en la televisión,
Canto rock en la televisión,
Bailo y canto en la televisión,
Porque quiero que te fijes en mí.

Por eso canto en la televisión,
Canto rock en la televisión,
Bailo y canto en la televisión,
Porque quiero que te fijes en mí.

Por eso canto en la televisión,
Canto rock en la televisión,
Bailo y canto en la televisión,
Porque quiero que te fijes en mí.

E! News Calls JLO’s Celia Cruz Tribute “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights” and Then Deletes Tweet

First we had to defend Pitbull (first time for us) and now we have to defend JLO? Is this Bizarro Day at Latino Rebels?


Last night JLO paid tribute to Celia Cruz at the AMAs.

Guess that didn’t sit too well with people as well, who also questioned JLO’s “Americaness” on Twitter. Here’s the scoop, via NBC Latino’s Nina Terrero:

E! News added to the criticism of Lopez’s performance – never mind that the 44-year-old’s tribute was nearly flawless— tweeting “Nice to see they’re previewing the ‘Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights’ musical at the #AMAs tonight.”

Terrero’s piece then goes on to say that Latino Twitter took E! News to task.


Terrero then added this, “E! News has yet to respond to NBC Latino’s request for comment regarding the tweet, which has since been deleted.”

Of course they aren’t commenting, because E! News is clueless.

Seriously, defending BOTH Pitbull and JLo on the same day? Historic day for LR.

Amazingly Powerful “Lo Que No Voy A Decir” Track by Chile’s SubVerso

What are we listening to this weekend?



You can download SubVerso’s song here. (H/T @latinoticias) For more about SubVerso, go here.

The Note Less Played: Argentina’s Laptra Proves Success Exists Outside System

What do independence and music have in common? Independence is defined as freedom from outside control or support, and for a group of 15 bands that make up the music label, Laptra, there is no music without independence.

Laptra began in 2000 with bands from Buenos Aires Capital, Buenos Aires Province, Mexico and Uruguay. The independent label “creates a way to exist outside the bloody corporate battle,” according to its website.


Two significant events in Argentina’s politically and economically turbulent, recent past have led to the emergence of a vibrant independent art scene today. The most recent dictatorship from 1976 to 1983 and the economic crisis in 2001 urged Argentines to cope in creative ways. When factories shut down, workers took over and created cooperatives to keep them running. When giant media conglomerates became more and more powerful, journalists broke away and started their own independent publications.

“It is our own, which is liberating,”  said Javi Punga, Laptra member for more than three years,  “It is a practice of freedom.”

In the music industry, all the power is in the hands of a few big labels with very deep pockets. By signing contracts with these labels, bands become members of multinational companies with unknown interests, according to Santiago Barrionuevo, vocalist and bass player for El Mató a un Policía Motorizado, one of the most well-known Laptra bands.

“When you sign a contract, you are signing with a label that generates a media monopoly, the enemy of independent bands” he said.

That doesn’t mean that the independent way is easier. As Marcos Antonio, vocalist and bass player for the band, Mapa de Bits, explained, there is an innumerable amount of work that goes into sustaining a band.

“Organize tests, contacting people to find gigs, getting equipment, finding tickets and hotels, recording and/or editing a cd, etc. It’s an uphill battle.”

Despite the extra work, independence gives the group things that a big label never could. Laptra acts as a vein, pulsing blood to its members that get together to discuss, produce, plan and always lend a helping hand. The group has an event called Festi Laptra that they organize at the end of every year as a platform to present themselves to the public.

“It was organized by no more than five people, everything from renting the venue, the sound, the graphics, talking to the media, etc,” Marcos explained. “We always help each other out lending equipment, batteries, instruments, even musicians.”

Laptra has a big public following of people who find their independence liberating. One thousand people came to the latest and third annual Festi Laptra this October.

“The connection is an emotional one, something we all have in common,” said Javi.

Working together as a collective label gives the bands true freedom of expression. They are not forced to succumb to the market’s interests. For the bands of Laptra, freedom is worth more than power, self-management more than results, collective more than competition, individualism more than systematic.

“It is twice the work but 1,500 times more gratifying,” Marcos declared.

To be part of the label, a band has to have certain morals.


“It is a secret code that is only revealed in your own heart,” Javi said.

Collaboration is key for Laptra, which gives each individual band the possibility to do things it could never do on its own. Music listeners who value this independent movement stay up-to-date with Laptra’s upcoming shows and CDs here.


¿Qué tienen en común la autogestión y la música? El término autogestión (significando: administración autónoma) se refiere al uso de cualquier método, habilidad y estrategia a través a de las cuales los individuos pueden dirigir eficazmente sus propias actividades hacia el logro de sus objetivos, con independencia de cualquier poder o autoridad. Las 15 bandas que forman el sello Laptra valoran tanto la autogestión como la música.

“Fundamentalmente pasa por reconocer un horizonte deseado y visualizar la estrategia de transformación para alcanzar ese sueño que es propio, nunca impuesto, que es liberador, que es una práctica de libertad”, dijo Javi Punga, miembro de Laptra desde hace tres años.

El sello Laptra nació en 2000, gracias a bandas de Capital Federal, provincia de Buenos Aires, México y Uruguay. Es un sello independiente que “crea una marca para salir al encarnizado combate de las corporaciones”, según su sitio.


“Los poderes o autoridades del sector musical son las empresas discográficas. Los acuerdos con esas empresas hacen que las bandas sean socios de multinacionales y con muchos intereses desconocidos”, según Santiago Barrionuevo, el vocalista y bajista de El Mató a un Policía Motorizado, una de las bandas más conocidas del sello Laptra.

“Cuando firmás un contrato, lo estás haciendo con un sello que genera un monopolio mediático, que es el enemigo para las bandas independientes”.

Eso no quiere decir que el camino independiente y autogestionado es fácil. Como explicó Marcos Antonio, vocalista y bajista de la banda Mapa de bits, hay muchas cosas que van por detrás de tener una banda.

“Organizar ensayos, contactarse con gente para buscar fechas, conseguir equipos, solventar pasajes y hoteles, grabar y/o editar un cd, etcétera. Todo es a pulmón, siempre”.


Aunque sea mucho trabajo, la autogestión da al grupo cosas que una empresa discográfica no jamás podría. El sello actúa como una vena que pulsa sangre a sus miembros que se juntan para discutir, producir, planear y siempre dar una mano al otro”. Por ejemplo, el evento Festi Laptra, que hace el sello al final de cada año,  da una plataforma en que el grupo puede presentar al público quiénes son. “Fue organizado por no más de cinco de nosotros desde el alquiler del lugar, sonido, gráfica y difusión en medios”, explicó Marcos. “También nos damos una mano siempre presentándonos equipos, cuerpos de batería, instrumentos y hasta músicos”.

Laptra tiene una relación fuerte con el público. La última Festi Laptra fue el octubre pasado y a ella asistieron más de mil personas.

“Lo veo a nivel afectivo, y es ahí siento una gran comunión,” describió Javi.

Trabajar juntos como sello colectivo les de una verdadera libertad de expresión. No tienen que sucumbir a las lógicas del mercado. Para las bandas de Laptra, la libertad vale más que el poder, el auto empoderamiento más que los resultados, el colectivo más que la competitividad, el particular más que lo sistemático.

“Cuesta el doble pero la gratificación es mil quinientas veces mayor,” declaró Marcos.

Javi explicó que ser parte del sello Laptra tiene que ver con cualidades morales y estéticas. “Es un código secreto que se sólo se le revela al iniciado en su propio corazón”.

La colaboración es clave para Laptra, dando a cada banda la posibilidad de hacer cosas que nunca podría sola. Los que escuchan música y conocen la importancia de la independencia siguen a Laptra aquí.


Taylor Dolven is an “infinitely curious journalist” based in Argentina. You can follow her on Twitter @taydolven. She is part of a growing independent media movement in Argentina, miarevista.com.