If reggaeton has taught us anything over the years, it’s that rhythm and sabrosura are the lingua franca of the Caribbean. And while traditions might differ from country to country, highlighting that connection and sense of brotherhood is at the heart of “Amigo,” the latest single from Chicago-based neo-soul singer Lester Rey. The Boricua vocalist and percussionist has linked up with rising Atlanta-based urbano firebrand Nino Augustine for a new anthem of diasporic solidarity, spotlighting the shared cultural and sonic heritage between Puerto Rico and Panama.
“Amigo” is built on a sumptuous foundation of bomba drums and mambo horns, where silky smooth verses from Rey and Augustine draw a line in the sand for fake friends. “No necesito amigo que me diga how I can or can’t connect with my heritage,” muses Rey via press release. “No necesito amigo in the music industry to tell me that bomba isn’t a viable sound for an emerging artist to promote. Mi isla no necesita amigo who just uses us. We got us, I got me.”
Much of the Alex Palma and Lester Rey-directed video for “Amigo” is shot at bomba dances in Chicago’s La Casita de Don Pedro, as well as the city’s Puerto Rican Day Parade, positioning the song as both an acknowledgment of true friendships and a rebuke of outside powers trying to control or deny us. The clip also features all-star cameos from bands Buyepongo and Dos Santos, NYC’s DJ Bembona and the Chicago Boricua Resistance – further underscoring the rhythmic and political crossroads of Puerto Rico, Panama and diasporic communities.
“The musical connection between Panama and Puerto Rico is filled with so much history that has influenced me tremendously,” adds Augustine, citing legends such as Ismael Rivera and Tego Calderón as personal inspirations. “For me it’s important to carry on that legacy and collaborate with artists such as Lester Rey that have a similar goal in mind, which is simply to create great music. “Amigo” is a perfect example of that beautiful mixture of cultures and genres that are becoming a new identity to us, the music innovators influenced by these different musical proposals.”
Watch the video here: