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Defining Latin Alternative Music

An eclectic range of influences is at the heart of Latin Alternative, a music created by young players who have been raised not only on their parents' music but also on rock, hip-hop and electronica. It represents a sonic shift away from regionalism and points to a new global Latin identity.

The name "Latin Alternative" was coined in the late 1990s by record company executives as a way to sell music that was -- literally -- all over the map. It was marketed as an alternative to the slick, highly produced Latin pop that dominated commercial Spanish-language radio, such as Ricky Martin or Shakira.

Artists within the genre, such as Candela Soul and Maldita Vencidad y los Hijos del Quinto Patio, have set out to defy traditional expectations of Latin music. Now, in an age of Internet connections, downloading and sampling, Latin Alternative has become not just a reaction to outside influences but its own genre.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Felix Contreras is co-creator and host of Alt.Latino, NPR's pioneering radio show and podcast celebrating Latin music and culture since 2010.