LAMC 2012: What Does "Latin Alternative" Mean?

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al·ter·na·tive //ɔlˈtɜrnətɪv, æl-// adjective
6. employing or following nontraditional or unconventional ideas, methods, etc.;
existing outside the establishment: an alternative newspaper; alternative lifestyles

These days, since everyone’s trying to define the “Latino market” – their likes and dislikes, their look, their language, and their thoughts – it’s more and more important to celebrate what’s different. Latinos are newer and younger in this country than anyone else, and we’re growing more complex, more plural, all the time. We mix and remix culture, borrowing from the new and the old, the English and the Spanish and the Spanglish, the norteamericano and the latinoamericano – and not just from whichever country our viejos are from, either.

The great American melting pot is loaded with cilantro and a pinch of sazón.

Of course, this extends to music. For every mainstream there is an equal and opposite collection of more interesting scenes – “Latin” isn’t a genre, no matter what the shelf at your local music store tries to tell you, in much the same way that “alternative” isn’t; both are umbrellas covering tons of different styles that have some basic things in common. It’s only natural, then, that “Latin alternative” not only exists, but thrives.

So throw away the categories, because you don’t need them anyway. Explain to your friends that moombahton and reggaeton aren’t the same thing; that ñu-cumbia is like cumbia but, well, new; that there’s rock in Spanish and all sorts of Latin music in English and that Latinos can make any kind of music they want, have their hands in as many jars as they see fit, and not be any less authentically whatever.


The above is featured in print in this year’s LAMC – Latin Alternative Music Conference – guidebook. LAMC 2012 begins tomorrow, 7/11.