Borderline Latin: Jovanotti

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Borderline Latin is an exploration of the influence of Latin music in styles, places and rhythms beyond its traditional borders, and of different types of cross-pollination between Latin music and other musical creatures. Each week, we will feature the works of a ‘non-Latin’ artist via song or musical style whose rhythm, themes, melodic inflections or influences have earned it the name of Borderline Latin.

Ever wondered where the “Latin” in Latin America comes from? That’s right: from Italy. “Latin America” designates those countries that speak a Romance language –one that descends from Latin, the language of ancient Rome. Unsurprisingly, Latin American countries share some cultural similarities with Latin European countries. Spain and Portugal are an easy match; but Italy is too –just get on a bus in Rome during rush hour: it’s like riding a pesera in Mexico City. Perhaps this is why lots of Italian artists have chosen to invade the Spanish-speaking market. But amidst names such as Eros Ramazzotti and Laura Pausini, there’s one that stands out for his borderline appeal: Jovanotti.

Two of Jovanotti’s hits became quite popular in Latin America during the ’90s: “Penso Positivo” and “Serenata Rap,” from Lorenzo 1994. After his success in the Spanish-speaking world, he recorded several Spanish versions of his songs, particularly from Il quinto mondo. He also collaborated with Jarabe de Palo for an adaptation of his hit “L’ombelico del Mondo,” which was revamped into “El ombligo del mundo” and is part of his greatest hits album Pasaporte – Lo Mejor de.

Jovanotti is permanently getting out of his comfort zone, incorporating different musical elements into his personal blend of hip hop, funk and pop, and reaching for new audiences. In 2009, he made his debut in the US, performing in NYC clubs such as Le Poisson Rouge and Joe’s Pub. Now he’s back. He will perform next week (03/12) in Williamsburg, and he’s planning to release a retrospective album called Italia 1988-2012 this summer, which will feature four world premiere tracks, and was produced by Ian Brennan, who also produced Tinariwen’s 2012 Grammy-winning album Tassili. Wait for it. In the mean time, fill your ears with nostalgia, and think positively:

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Click HERE to read more on “Borderline Latin.” For comments and tips, please contact me at:, and for more info on my “Borderline” works, visit Borderline Projects.