In a blister of hand and electronic percussion, Maria Laboy’s voice rides in over a funky phased guitar. It’s a touch of several Caribbean genres, fractured and pasted back together into a fusion Laboy and producer Andres Rigau call “Despojo,” an invitation to “let go.” The genre’s premiere single dropped yesterday courtesy of Laboy and Rigau’s new project Musaraña. The song is called “Munchie Sexual” and you can hear it right here. Watch out for that funk breakdown:
Laboy reached out to Afropop, as she so often has in past in her capacity as a top promoter in New York’s Latinx music scene, but this time she was her own client, having taken her experience and dreams as a singer and performer to the next level. Inspired by the soneras of the past—Celia Cruz, Iris Chacón and La Lupe—as well as the power of drum circles and the futuristic sounds that characterize contemporary music.
"For the longest time, I have been desiring to experience music/sounds/gatherings that profoundly shake and elevate our spirits from the challenges that we have been facing daily on different scales," Laboy told me in an email. "In this, I am taking a cue from my African roots and how our ancestors used to do when dancing to drum beats to release the heaviness, the cruelties, of a hard day of labor and violence. Joy, music, claiming our right to dance and life has always been revolutionary for Afro-descendants, and while my music and rhythms (the layerings of them) are new, this isn’t."
Laboy and I were emailing back and forth and I told her how much I loved the fusion of physical and electronic drums.
“Yasss to the percussion, that is totally the idea, it has several different percussion-- merengue, bomba, etc. inspired and layered,” she said. “The guitar is a funky one! I love it too. The producer's magic touch, I must say.”
It’s that time of late summer, when everyone’s hot and struggling through, and this song feels like an especially timely call to “let go.”
“When you look around, our generation is facing some of the scariest financial, political, humanitarian and environmental threats of any generation,” Laboy said. “I wanted a sound that made people not only dance but helped people release suffering and all that weighed them, that emboldened them in joy. I want Despojo to feel like this utter sensual and soul release.”