In December of 2018, my cousin Josephine and I received a message via Instagram from a woman named Vicko who was visiting from Chicago with her partner Lester Rey. They hadn’t spent much time in Atlanta despite having some family here and hoped to see it through the eyes of the locals here, specifically through a Latinx lens. An IG meet up soon became a weekend of blossoming friendships bonding over ways in which we grew up and ways in which we were currently working to break the wheels of colonization. These types of interactions are what we try to do with La Choloteca: Building, representing, and supporting communities without borders.
Lester grew up in the strongly Puerto Rican influenced neighborhood of Humboldt Park located in West Chicago. His journey with music began in the Pentecostal Church where he began playing the congas at the age of 5. His music style has been described as “a reinvention of Latin soul” but doesn’t stray away from the influences of multiple genres including: salsa, rumba, reggaeton, hip hop, and even anime. What enhances his musical compositions is his poetic lyricism that tackles subjects such as past traumas, machismo, a women’s right to perrear, and the intersection of ni aqui, ni alla (neither here, nor there). In his music video for “Ni Santa”, trans rapper-actress Lila Star owns her sexuality as his love interest while Rey reinforces that women are the owners of their body and of their intersections between sainthood and sexuality. It also marks the first time a trans woman leads as a video vixen in a reggaeton video. His latest EP release Santaurio, delves deep to get you into the feels but with rhythms that take the listener through a sonic cruise leaving them with smiles on their faces and hope their hands.
Joining him on the rise of representation in the Latinx music scene is Atlanta breakout rapper Nino Augustine. Nino is a unique figure in the urbano scene because he represents one of the early birthplaces for reggaeton with his Panamanian roots. When most people think about reggaeton, it is detached from its very black origins. This should not come as a surprise as historically Latin America has held racist viewpoints and is also guilty of participating in the whitewashing of history.
Before there was reggaeton, there was reggae and dancehall. Though it was still being consumed by the black and poor, it took light-skinned, white passing artists to bring the genre to the forefront. What is unique about Nino Augustine is that he is a black Panamanian artist living in the South. The layers to his Latinidad are not only connected to the Caribbean, but also to his Atlanta deep south hip-hop influence. His rising voice in the epoch of light skinned reggaetoneros and perreos is exactly what the growing Latinx community in the South and worldwide need. Nino Augustine is the amalgamate of diasporic blackness and it is so good!
Join us for a very special Choloteca on 5/16/19 at MJQ as these two worlds collide to bring you an evening of cultural and musical magic. Lester Rey makes his Atlanta debut with Nino Augustine, and only a week later Nino will make his Chicago premier. Also joining us from Chicago are Fern Chavez from the duo Los Marafackas and Roger McFly who is cofounder of the Pachanga party. Sets by local Atlanta qts Santiago Paramo, Aquaria, Nena Linda, and Malcriada!
Co-written by Kenneth and Josephine Figueroa who are La Choloteca: Ley de Latinx.