If you’re Latinx and live in the U.S., you are used to other people telling your stories. Whether it’s reporters parachuting into border towns, or just plain-old whitewashed roles in films and television, Latinxs have always had a voice and something to say, but have long struggled to be heard. When it comes to media, it starts in the makeup of the newsroom: when everyone comes from the same place, an outlet’s perspective becomes homogenous, and you get writers tasked with assignments they are ill-equipped to handle. Newsroom diversity — or the overwhelming lack thereof — is one of modern media’s greatest failures, and addressing it is a stepping stone to solving some of its other problems.
When Latinx cultural phenomena become too big for mainstream media outlets to ignore — like “Despacito” or, say, Lido Pimienta’s Polaris Prize win — homogenous newsrooms get exposed for the holes in the knowledge base of their staffs, and are sent scrambling to find someone – anyone – who can make sense of cultures that have been growing and thriving right under their noses. And it’s often embarrassing (at best) or offensive (at worst) to see major outlets publish work by writers clearly out of their element when discussing the nuance of art in the diaspora. More disheartening is the erasure of indigenous groups and Afro-Latinxs in criticism of Latinx art, whether through laziness, sheer ignorance, or both.
As a former editor, I can attest to the difficulty of assembling a diverse staff of contributors, people who you can trust to write authoritatively and deliver the goods quickly. It takes lots of effort, hard work, and patience to develop new talent; editors tend to build out their networks organically, relying on people they trust to recommend new collaborators. But when your network is homogenous (as they often are in the upper echelons of journalism and criticism), it’s a recipe that sustains the status quo, and keeps people on the margins from having a voice in the mainstream.
Now, there’s no excuse. We’ve done the work for you.
This is a list of writers who cover music that you should already be following — consider this a letter of recommendation. Their specialties run the gamut from reggaeton and bachata to the most ubiquitous pop stars and obscure indie musicians. They each bring their own skillsets to their work, with a wide variety of perspectives on Latinx identity.
Latinxs are far from monolithic; it’s unfair to expect the one Latinx writer on your staff or in your stable of freelancers to speak for every member of the community. In curating this list, we set out to be as inclusive as possible, attempting to reflect a range of specialities. It’s worth thinking about the ways structural issues in the media industry play out here, whether it’s the colorism that benefits white or light-skinned Latinxs with access to more prestigious platforms, or whether it’s the inability to take on unpaid internships that will help writers build careers in the long run. For this reason, it remains as important as ever to support independent creators and writers when you can.
So don’t just wait for the next “Despacito:” include these voices in your newsroom now, and watch it get smarter, more nimble, and empathetic.
Editor’s note: This list intends to highlight the larger community of Latinx music critics and writers outside of Remezcla’s own contributor base. If you’re a faithful Remezcla reader, consider following all our Latinx contributors through their author pages.
Marjua Estevez, Associate Editor, Billboard Latin
An Afrocaribeña writer and poet, Marjua Estevez has carved out a lane for herself documenting hip-hop aesthetics, Dominican culture, and the urban Latino experience in the U.S. After a stint at VIBE Viva, VIBE’s Latino vertical, she’s been named an Associate Editor at Billboard Latin.
Read Marjua’s VIBE cover story on Cardi B here.
Follow Marjua on Twitter here.
Jaquira Diaz, Freelancer
An accomplished prose essayist, Jaquira Díaz has collected fellowships, grants, and scholarships for her writing, most recently the 2016-18 fellowship at the historic literary magazine The Kenyon Review. She’s done deep dives for the likes of Rolling Stone and The Guardian, and of late has blessed The FADER with her elegant prose in profiles of Kali Uchis and Fuego.
Read Jaquira’s FADER cover story on Kali Uchis here.
Follow Jaquira on Twitter here.
Suzy Exposito, Assistant Music Editor, Rolling Stone
Suzy Exposito has been schooling bros on guitar music for years now, and is happy to remind you that if she can’t “baila esta cumbia in your punk scene,” she wants no part of it. She’s held staff positions at MTV and Rolling Stone (where she’s currently an assistant music editor), and boasts bylines in Pitchfork and Teen Vogue. A talented writer and illustrator, her wit is just as biting as a comic or as criticism: For evidence, peep her work in Rookie and Bitch Media, or buy one of her photocopied zines.
Read Suzy’s recent interview with Lin-Manuel Miranda here.
Follow Suzy on Twitter here.
Paula Mejia, Associate Editor, Atlas Obscura
A Colombian-American writer who hails from Houston, Texas, Paula is one of culture writing’s brightest young stars, something Brooklyn Magazine has already recognized. She recently published her first book, a 33 1/3 volume on the debut album from post-punk prophets The Jesus and Mary Chain. She has spent the last year writing up shows for The New Yorker, and her recent profile of Romeo Santos appeared in New York Magazine’s culture pages. Mejia was recently snatched up by Atlas Obscura to, among other things, work on their soon-to-be-launched Food & Drink vertical.
Read Paula’s New York Magazine story on Romeo Santos here.
Follow Paula on Twitter here.
Gary Suarez, Freelancer
Gary Suarez was born, raised, and still lives in Queens, NY. For the better part of two decades, he has been covering music for the likes of outlets such as Forbes, Noisey, Billboard, Pitchfork, and Complex. He can handle Latin pop as comfortably as he does hip-hop, and you can catch his monthly column on electronic music over at Vinyl Me Please.
Read Gary’s recent piece in Vinyl Me Please on Wagon Christ’s Musipal here.
Follow Gary on Twitter here.
Eric Torres, former MTV News Editor
As a former writer and copy editor at MTV News, Torres helped contextualize queer and Latinx voices for MTV’s youthful mainstream audience. Check out his profile of Helado Negro, or the moving essay he wrote after the massacre at Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub.
Read Eric’s essay on the Pulse shooting here.
Follow Eric on Twitter here.
Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, Culture Editor at Jezebel
Julianne Escobedo Shepherd may originally hail from Cheyenne, Wyoming, but she’s an OG when it comes to New York media, with stints at MTV, VIBE, and as the executive editor of the temple of swag that is The FADER. She’s helped mold young minds both as an editor at Rookie and as an adjunct lecturer at NYU. These days, she guides the culture section at Jezebel, occasionally blessing Pitchfork with her critical expertise.
Read Julianne’s review of Solange’s A Seat at the Table here.
Follow Julianne on Twitter here.
Isabela Raygoza, Audible
Remezcla’s former music editor, Isabela Raygoza has been diversifying her bonds ever since, curating Latin music playlists for VEVO, Google Play Music, and Third Bridge Creative, as well as fostering a burgeoning career as a musician. She’s currently creating content for Amazon’s audiobooks division Audible, and you can catch her writing in places like Univision, Noisey, and Rolling Stone.
Read Isabela’s profile on Mexrrissey here.
Follow Isabela on Twitter here.
Maria Sherman, Freelancer
Maria expertly occupies space at opposite ends of the pop spectrum — a discerning tastemaker of noise, hardcore, and indie pop acts, she tempers her ear for the obscure with an unabashed obsession with boy-band pop, breathlessly chronicling the rise of One Direction and 5 Seconds of Summer. A freelancer with a dizzying array of bylines under her belt, you can catch her in places like NPR, Rolling Stone, SPIN, and Alternative Press.
Read Maria’s interview with Kim Gordon here.
Follow Maria on Twitter here.
Shea Serrano, Staff Writer, The Ringer
As much an internet personality as he is a writer, Serrano has been known to use his profile to raise money for good causes (and help his friends promote their books), and Bun B’s Rap Coloring and Activity Book seemed to hit a sweet spot for Rap Dads everywhere. As a staff writer at The Ringer, he covers a lot of sports (especially the NBA), but still finds the time for deep dives into rap classics like Ma$e’s seminal posse cut “24 Hours To Live.”
Read Shea’s dive into “24 Hours to Live” here.
Follow Shea on Twitter here.
Marty Preciado, Editor-in-Chief, Nylon Español
Marty Preciado has been covering music from a few different angles for more than a decade; these days she spends her days running things over at NYLON Español, where she’s worked since 2014. Pulling double duty as Editor-In-Chief/Integrated Marketing Officer, she writes and edits, in addition to producing concerts and overseeing brand partnerships.
Read Marty’s interview with Chicano Batman here.
Follow her on Twitter here.
Nuria Net, Senior Editor, Music, Uforia
This Remezcla co-founder currently leads music coverage at Univision digital, where she also launched U-Lab Music, a bilingual platform that showcases emerging artists, giving a major signal boost to musicians operating under the radar. Net also hosts the U-Lab podcast, and says she’s focusing on multi-platform or “post-text” storytelling, such as the interactive story on Residente and his new album.
Read Nuria’s interactive story on Residente here.
Follow Nuria on Twitter here.
Catalina Maria Johnson, Ph.D, Beat Latino
Catalina hails from two towns named St. Louis — one in Mexico (San Luis Potosí), and one in Missouri. She contributes to NPR Music’s Alt.Latino and hosts her own podcast, Beat Latino. You can also catch her work on Univision and Bandcamp. The Fulbright scholar says her mission is to champion immigrant contributions to the U.S. outside of labor — art, literature, and music — that she feels are undervalued.
Read Catalina’s review of Mitú’s Cosmus here.
Follow Catalina on Twitter here.
Yezmin Villarreal, News Editor, The Advocate
Yezmin hails from Phoenix, AZ, where she covers pop culture’s intersection of race, sex, and gender as the news editor of The Advocate. You can find her freelance work in the likes of The FADER, The Los Angeles Times, and LA Weekly, where she recently profiled Chicana punk icon Alice Bag.
Read Yezmin’s profile of Alice Bag here.
Follow Yezmin on Twitter here.
Emilly Prado, Freelancer
Prado is a writer and photographer based in Portland, Oregon focusing on highlighting people in art and activism from marginalized communities. Her recent work in the Portland Mercury and Bitch Media focuses on providing context to music that is often sorely lacking; a recent essay convinced her paper’s music editor to stop using “Latin” as a genre.
Read Emilly’s recent piece on Portland’s El Pueblo Unido fest here.
Follow Emilly on Twitter here.