“Latinoamérica” is a song by Puerto Rican alternative hip hop band Calle 13, released September 27, 2011, as the fifth single from their fourth studio album, Entren Los Que Quieran (2010). It was written and produced by Rafael Arcaute and Calle 13, and features additional vocals from other Latinoamerican recording artists; Peruvian Susana Baca, Colombian Totó la Momposina and Brazilian Maria Rita. The song won Record of the Year and Song of the Year in the Latin Grammy Awards of 2011. The song is important in that it touches on many underlying historical, social, and political themes present throughout Latin America.
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I have enjoyed this video and the song for a while now but, after I recently watched Calle 13’s documentary “Sin Mapa” (“without a map”), the lyrics made all the sense that I had missed until then. It’s a painful documentary, as almost everything about Latin America is, but it made me appreciate better Renè (lead singer) as an artist and poet. The documentary is about his effort to understand Latin American culture and reality so as to be able to write about something more important than, as he said, tacky things. He went traveling through the South American continent to see what we are ‘not allowed’ to see. The lyrics come from what he witnessed in that ‘travesìa”, in those traveling.
His experience at 18K feet high in Bolivia gave him those verses in the song: “a village hidden in the summit” and “the high altitude that suffocate”. It’s not the same meaning until you see the documentary. The man almost die up there! And the “village”…it’s HELL ON EARTH, truly.
It’s worth watching that documentary.