La Verdad According to Locos Por Juana

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Locos Por Juana, the funky musical collective that has been jamming all over Miami for the past decade, recently released their first major label album, La Verdad (Machete Music.) Y aunque parezca increible, the group, comprised of Itagui (vocals), Javier Delgado (drums), GuillermoChamoCabral (bass), Alan Reyna (percussion), Emiliano Torres (trumpet), and Mark Kondrat (guitar) will play their first formal concert ever this Friday at Manuel Artime Theatre in Calle Ocho.

Even though Locos have been an underground fixture for years, and their members’ side projects include the very active Xperimento and Suenalo Soundsystem, the band has toured around the country extensively and were nominated for a Latin Grammy for their 2005 sophomore album, Música Pa’l Pueblo, which was released independently. (Their self-titled debut came out in 2003.)

We called up the amazingly talented and buena gente Itagui so he could break down for us, in his own word, La Verdad. The result: a great chat about this pivotal time in their careers, cumbia, family and nalgas.

Name: Cristian Itagui Correa, aka Itagui

Age: 29

Roots: Colombianas

Miami Resident Since: 1991

Where does the name Itagui come from? Its my middle name and it comes from a municipality in Colombia, but the origin is a Chibcha indigenous name.

Do you remember how you looked like without dreads? It’s been like eight years, before that, I was bald.

What’s Locos secret to keeping yourselves so fresh and playing so many shows?
I think its keep writing music, keeping our brotherhood.

Profession before becoming a full-time Loco: Break dancer and I worked a 9-5pm at a party supplies store.

What statement do you want to make by wearing tie and suit in your shows? I always liked elegance – but my way. And well, my clothes reflect the seriousness of what I do.

Favorite part of going on tour:
To meet new places and people that inspire us.

Describe Locos Por Juana’s music in three words: Música del Mundo

Locos Por Juana’s La Verdad (2008, Machete Music) :  Itagui breaks it down, Track by Track :

1-    ” La Verdad”: This is the introduction to our new album, which reflects the truth of 8 kids, sons of immigrants who came to this country in search of their dreams. This album is what we have lived as a band and above all, as brothers, learning the way, experimenting with our folk music. It’s also an album with a positive message and hope. Es nuestra verdad.

2-  “Prende”: For us, “Prende” means to be motivated, even during hard times or disillusion. We combine cumbia with dancehall from Jamaica, and it was born on the road, motivated seeing all these people at our shows. Every time we play this song, we feel a beautiful vibe.

3 – “Tantas Veces”:
We recorded it in Monterrey, Mexico. It was an honor to work with [producer] Toy Hernández, since his time in Control Machete we’ve always admired him. More than our producer, Toy is our brother and in this track we added the special touch of Toy and Latin hip hop with a bit of cumbia. Sonidero Meets Locos Por Juana is amazing! Cumbia lives in my blood, it’s the reflection of my ancestors, it’s the rhythm of my heart. Its really moving to see this rhythm grow not only in Mexico but in Argentina, Perú, etc. La cumbia es nuestro orgullo, Somos cumbianberos!

4- “Armando”: Its in porró from Colombia, a combination of cumbia and vallenato. “Armando” talks about the conflict of a couple, about jealousy, insecurities…but at the end love always win. That’s what happens every day!

5- “Lo Tienes Todo”: It talks about one of the best solutions for the world…love. And what better than reggae. This song is a rock steady reggae in our style and its to reflect about materialism and poverty in the world.

6 – “Tu Sabes Muy Bien (La Nalga)” featuring Yeyo (from The D.E.Y): “La Nalga,” our most romantic song! LOL. Well this is  a fun song to dance and to enjoy, to move those nalgas. We met Yeyo from The D.E.Y., in the neighborhood, we’re family. We’re always doing music. It’s a great combination of hip hop and our sound. Hip hop is part of our generation and we use it a lot.

7 – “No Te Preocupes”: I wrote this for mi wife and for my new inspiration, my daughter Salomé. I give thanks to God for my family and that great gift of being a father. “No te preocupes” is also a song for all those families out there, its in street vallenato, it was the first time we used that rhythm and we’re very happy with the results.

8 – “Fire! (Out in the Streets)”: It speaks for its self, it’s the most energetic in the album. Es candela, a mix of drum n’ bass, reggae and with a message of unity and hope. Its in English and Spanglish. Being from Miami makes us a Spanglish community. We all grew up in the US, we’re from here and there.

9 – “De Donde Es? (Immigrante)”: It’s a very personal story, one time were were driving to Los Angeles on tour and we were stopped by immigration agents. I had forgotten all my papers at home. We practically experienced what our parents go or have been through. “Immigrante”   is a about la esencia Latina in this country; a proclamation to Mother Earth. We are all from here from this Earth.

10 – “La Española” feat Barullo: “La Española” es flamenco, cumbia, salsa all together. It talks about the moment I met my wife, who is from Spain. We invited a great gypsy brother, Antonio Cortez from the Cortez family and part of the group Barullo. Last year, they won a Latin Grammy for their work with Oscar D’ Leon in Oscar’s album Fuzionando.

11 – “Feelin’ Good” feat Omniscient: That’s what we feel when we play our music, we have the production from Beatsmith, (who has worked with The D.E.Y., Lil’ Wayne, Scott Storch) and featuring the best rapper in Miami, Omniscient. From Puerto Rican parents, Omniscient represents the true interpretation of hip hop here in Miami.

12-    “Calles de Babylon:” This is a drop of reggae that talks about our children and protecting Mother Earth. Reggae a genre that has influenced us a lot thanks to the music of Bob Marley, Burning Spears and more that filled our lives with positive changes.

13 – “Calle Luna Calle Sol”: This was a great opportunity to honor two of our biggest influences, los maestros Willie Colón and Hector Lavoe. We fused it with dancehall, reggae and salsa. They are key in our lives as musicians and this song is a classic of Latin music. They taught us to feel melodies and be honest with our music. They make us proud of being Latinos.