'Parceros United'

Here’s the Story Behind Team Colombia’s Bilingual Copa América Song ‘Parceros United’

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - JUNE 28: Jhon Cordoba of Colombia celebrates with teammates after scoring the team's third goal during the CONMEBOL Copa America 2024 Group D match between Colombia and Costa Rica at State Farm Stadium on June 28, 2024 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images)

Colombians living in the U.S. have a new anthem for Copa America. Two weeks since the release of the song “Parceros United,” as Colombia kicked off its first match in Houston, TX, the catchy bilingual cumbia is making the rounds online – with videos of the song blasting in bars, restaurants, and watch parties from Arizona to Los Angeles. The official Copa America English language account even shared a TikTok about Colombia’s gameplay with “Parceros United” sounding off. The song was created by Butch Vega, Santibel, La Fragua, and Parceros United, a group of artists working together for the first time across borders to create an ode to fútbol, their motherland, and the experiences of those who immigrated and now live somewhere in between. Remezcla spoke with the minds behind the Parceros United online community, Santibel, and Butch Vega, about creating the unofficial bilingual anthem.

It couldn’t come at a better time, as Copa America has returned to the U.S. after eight years, bringing the excitement of fútbol and a rare opportunity for immigrant fans to witness their national teams in person. For those who can’t make it into the stadium, the energy and passion of near-daily fútbol feels, well… home adjacent, including hours-long tailgates with live bands and dancing, and restaurants and bars filling up for watch parties, with over a million viewers tuning in for every game. 

Fútbol has always been a unifying force, allowing people living at a distance to feel closer to home, even if momentarily. And music is such an integral part of the traditions around fútbol. It’s not just Shakira performing the official Copa America song – it’s the club songs, the chants, the anthems, the canticos in the stadiums. Thousands of fans chanting songs passed down from generations in unison in stadiums thousands of miles from home.

Friends Ronald Peña and Dani Sandoval, who run the popular online community called Parceros United, say that’s what led to the idea to create the “Parceros United” anthem. They looked around at a Colombian fútbol game and realized many of these die-hard supporters like them grew up or were even born in the U.S. If music was so important to the tradition of fútbol, and if music was so representative of the culture, why wasn’t there a song that spoke to the experience of being a Colombian away from home? So, they set out to make it happen. 

“It clicked. We wanted to help create something that spoke to the experience of those fans who grew up between two countries, that embodies what it’s like to feel so much love for your home even at a distance,” Peña says.

They enlisted the help of Colombian artist Santibel, who they recalled having a conversation with earlier in the year. “Santibel talked about returning home to Colombia after years living in Miami and this growing desire to reconnect with his roots and his identity,” Sandoval says. Santibel, a songwriter and producer with a handful of writing credits, including on Selena Gomez’s “Vicio,” wanted to make music for himself. He decided to stay in Medellin permanently and focused all his creative energy on honoring traditional sounds, incorporating traditional cumbia, joropo, boleros, and live percussion into his new work. 

Santibel brought in La Fragua, a popular band innovating in Medellin with their “wild cumbia” and glam tropical fusions. With producer LowKey, they recorded every instrument live and created a beat based on the traditional sounds of cumbia. The final touch came in the form of an English rap verse by Atlanta-based Colombian artist Butch Vega. Un poco de aquÍ, un poco de allá.

We wanted to help create something that spoke to the experience of those fans who grew up between two countries, that embodies what it’s like to feel so much love for your home even at a distance.

Like Santibel, Butch Vega had recently traveled to Colombia on a similar identity search. Born in Bogota but immigrating soon after, Vega was raised on hip-hop in Atlanta. “I’ve been making music and rapping all my life,” he said. “What I brought to the table was being brought up in the culture by my family, but my sound was formed by my experiences growing up in the U.S., so I am always true to that in my music.” Like many others raised between two cultures, he acknowledges there can be some tension around identity. “But there’s no wrong way to be who you are,” he clarifies.

Sandoval adds that he knew Vega was the missing link as soon as he heard the finished version: “It personified who we are. Music is all about shared experiences. We wanted our audience to feel seen.”

You can’t have fusion without a solid pillar of tradition. The Parceros United song resonates with listeners because it’s not about being a perfect representation but about building your own traditions and integrating them into the greater culture. As Colombia continues onto the Copa America semifinals on a winning streak, the Parceros United team hopes their song will also continue to spread joy and acceptance. 

Listen to “Parceros United” below.