Oye Como Va!: Hybridity and Identity in Latino Popular Music

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Listen Up! When the New York-born Tito Puente composed "Oye Como Va!" in the 1960s, his popular song was called "Latin" even though it was a fusion of Afro-Cuban and New York Latino musical influences. A decade later, Carlos Santana, a Mexican immigrant, blended Puente's tune with rock and roll, which brought it to the attention of national audiences. Like Puente and Santana, Latino/a musicians have always blended musics from their homelands with other sounds in our multicultural society, challenging ideas of what "Latin" music is or ought to be. Waves of immigrants further complicate the picture as they continue to bring their distinctive musical styles to the U.S.-from merengue and bachata to cumbia and reggaeton.

In Oye Como Va!, Deborah Pacini Hernandez traces the trajectories of various U.S. Latino musical forms in a globalizing world, examining how the blending of Latin music reflects Latino/a American lives connecting across nations. Exploring the simultaneously powerful, vexing, and stimulating relationship between hybridity, music, and identity, Oye Como Va! asserts that this potent combination is a signature of the U.S. Latino/a experience.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Pacini Hernandez (director, American studies & Latino studies, Cornell Univ.; Bachata: A Social History of Dominican Popular Music)—a resident of South America and the United States with Italian and Colombian heritage who is a fan of traditional Latino music and some of the various international hybrids—brings an anthropologist's eye to the history of Latin music and the many ways it has been hybridized in America. She traces the beginnings with Tito Puente's groundbreaking Oye Como Va from 1963 and Carlos Santana's updated 1970 version and follows the development of many newer kinds of music, including popular artists such as Los Lobos and the modern amalgam known as reggaeton. VERDICT This somewhat scholarly exploration will probably not appeal to casual fans of Latin-flavored music. Best for readers interested in music as culture and those who want to understand what forces have shaped the diverse landscape of Latin hybridized musics in America and worldwide over the last 40-plus years.—Bill Walker, Stockton-San Joaquin Cty. P.L., Manteca, CA
From the Publisher
“Oye Como Va! provides an incisive historical and contemporary overview of all the major popular musical genres defined as ‘Latin.’ Pacini Hernandez presents an insightful, coherent, eloquent, and engaging analysis of the hybridity of Latino musical practices, carefully documenting the ‘transnational’ musical interactions between Latinos in the United States and in their countries of origin.”—Jorge Duany, University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras

"Deborah Pacini Hernandez’s wonderful book highlights the magnificent diversity and generative hybridity of Latino popular music. Oye Como Va! presents empirically rich and theoretically sophisticated analyses of a dazzling range of national and transnational musical genres. From her fully realized critiques of cumbia, merengue, and salsa to her explication of the hidden bilingual and bicultural histories of disco, freestyle, rock, reggaeton, hip-hop, and house, Pacini Hernandez has produced a timely, compelling, and significant book." 
—George Lipsitz, author of Footsteps in the Dark

"Oye Como Va! brings Pacini Hernandez's unsurpassed expertise in Latino/a and Latin American popular music into a groundbreaking study of how issues of cultural nationalism, immigration, and transnationalism have affected its identification and marketing. The result is the most comprehensive treatment of Latino/a music to date. From bachata to rock en español to reggaeton, Pacini Hernandez discusses both the historical and most fascinating contemporary dimensions." 
—Arlene Dávila, author of Latino Spin: Public Image and the Whitewashing of Race

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439900901
  • Publisher: Temple University Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/2009
  • Pages: 238
  • Sales rank: 668,379
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Deborah Pacini Hernandez is Associate Professor, Anthropology and American Studies, Tufts University. She is the author of  Bachata: A Social History of a Dominican Popular Music (Temple), and the co-editor of  Reggaeton and Rockin' Las Americas: Rock Music Cultures Across Latin/o America.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Hybridity, Identity, and Latino Popular Music 
2. Historical Perspectives on Latinos and the Latin Music Industry 
3. To Rock or Not to Rock: Cultural Nationalism and Latino Engagement with Rock ’n’ Roll 
4. Turning the Tables: Musical Mixings, Border Crossings, and New Sonic Circuitries 
5. New Immigrants, New Layerings: Tradition and Transnationalism in U.S. Dominican Popular Music 
6. From Cumbia Colombiana to Cumbia Cosmopolatina: Roots, Routes, Race, and Mestizaje 
7. Marketing Latinidad in a Global Era 
Selected Bibliography 

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