Cosa Nuestra: ‘Pa’ La Ciudad’, A Fiesta with a Side of History

By 26 April, 2017

If there’s one thing we took away with us after attending “Pa La Cuidad” in Brooklyn on April 22, it was the desire for every party to come with a history lesson.

The party, hosted by the Cosa Nuestra collective, included the hotly anticipated New York City debut of Puerto Rico’s electro-Yoruba devotional singers, ÌFÉ, and a unique feature by way of actor/performer/poet Flaco Navaja.

Flaco Navaja / Photo by Megan Mack

Flaco Navaja / Photo by Megan Mack

Navaja appeared at different times throughout the night, narrating the history of the drum as it pertains to AfroLatin and Latin music. At times, he was accompanied by dancers who performed the Puerto Rican bomba, a challenge/connection between the drummer and the dancer, and, later, a riveting carnival-like atmosphere with stilt-dancers and cabezudos (large paper mache characters).

The night was very much a journey into AfroLatino culture.

The Cosa Nuestra collective (whose name was inspired by Willie Colon’s album “Cosa Nuestra (Our thing)” album)  is comprised of Latino creatives who banded together last year with the intention of showcasing the best of all things Latino. Their goal is to combat the anti-Latino narratives that arose in 2015-16 during the United States’ drawn-out election campaign process.

What better way to accomplish that mission than through Latino food, drink, dance and sounds?

Guests were treated to an assortment of cocktails made by mixologists from La Factoria, an acclaimed cocktail bar in Puerto Rico, and appetizers with a modern take on Puerto Rican classics designed by acclaimed Puerto Rican chefs including Maria Mercedes, Ibrahim Sanz, Guillermo López and Esteban Muñiz.

Music-wise, performers included bomba-influenced Jazz sounds by ÊMINA, a female trio hailing from Puerto Rico, and Ilu Aye, a New York City -based rumba group.

But the big draw of the night was undoubtedly IFÉ, an emerging electro-rumba group who will be back in New York City this summer during the Latin Alternative Music Conference (LAMC) for a performance at Central Park’s Summerstage.

The band is a bold new musical undertaking from Puerto Rico-based drummer/producer/singer Otura Mun. An Ifá priest or “Babalawo” in the Yoruba religion, Mun has been at the vanguard of the Puerto Rican music scene since arriving from Indiana in the late 1990s, producing critically-acclaimed albums and songs for many of the island’s most important musical voices, including Mima and Cultura Profetica. ÌFÉ’s latest single “Umbo (Come Down)” is a musical invitation to the benevolent forces that be and draws from rhythms and incantations of sacred Yoruba praise songs. Their debut album, IIII+IIII, is out now.

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