Spanish-Language Hip Hop

Hip Hop turned 50 in August of this year! The iconic music form originated in New York City, specifically the Bronx in predominantly Black and Brown communities. Puerto Rican New Yorkers, fondly known as Nuyoricans, were and still are immensely influential in the development of Hip Hop. Although the majority of old school and newer Hip Hop is a largely AAVE and English-based genre, Spanish language Hip Hop has been around for almost as long as the mother genre and has often included Spanglish influence. Via cassettes and bootlegs of songs recorded in NYC and other places around the US, the genre spread to Spain and Latin America throughout the 80s and 90s. 

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Kali Uchis Could Help You Learn Spanish!

Kali Uchis is a Colombian-American singer and songwriter with four albums and various EPs and singles in her discography. Uchi’s two earliest albums, Por Vida and Isolation, are primarily in English but are heavily influenced by Latin R&B, soul, psychedelic soul, and Latin American Boleros. For anyone learning Spanish, these earlier albums might improve your cultural fluency with modern Latin music and musicians. Likewise, for someone at a 200-400 level in Spanish, Uchis’ two most recent albums Sin Miedo (del amor y otros demonios) and Red Moon in Venus, are a great way to immerse yourself in gooey eclectic bilingual love-stricken bops that tease with verses flowing between Spanish, English, and Spanglish. If you’re struggling to understand the fast-paced lyrics of musicians such as Bad Bunny or even Rosalia, Kali Uchis might be the girl for you. Her slow hooks and unique take on reggaeton make you want to play her discography on repeat. Rumor has it that Uchis will be releasing her fourth studio album very soon so get ahead of the trend while you’re at it! Feel free to check out her socials if you need some more convincing 😉
Gracias y buena suerte!

El espíritu revolucionario a través de la música

Artist Reccomendation: Silvio Rodríguez

60s/70s Cuban singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez was a household name while I was growing up. My parents used to tell me stories about the one time they went to his concert, and one of their friends kept requesting “Ojalá!” (one of his most popular songs) by yelling the title constantly from the audience. It wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I actually listened to his music and fell in love with it. 

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Recommendation: Luis Miguel

Today’s blog post brings a music and television recommendation all in one. 

Luis Miguel: La Serie is a Netflix drama series that follows the life of legendary Mexican singer Luis Miguel throughout his early life and rise to superstardom. This show intimately explores Luis Miguel’s private life, focusing on the challenges he went through to balance his public image with his relationships with friends and family. With beautiful camerawork, fun 80s aesthetics, and a heavy dose of LuisMi’s most popular songs, this series keeps you hooked from beginning to end. It’s no surprise that it has become a favorite in the Spanish-speaking world.

Luis Miguel is currently available on Netflix. Keep an eye out for the third season, coming out today (October 28th)!

Or, if you’re just looking for something to listen to, here are some of my favorite Luis Miguel songs:

  1. Soy Como Quiero Ser
  2. Ahora te Puedes Marchar
  3. Cuando Calienta el Sol
  4. La Incondicional
  5. Tengo Todo Excepto a Tí

Six Spanish Shorts to Watch Over Winter Break

Headed into the break but still want to practice your Spanish? Check out these six Spanish short films for quick and easy immersion! Each film is directed and filmed for and by native Spanish speakers, and they come from a wide range of countries. Many of the shorts are also favorites at film festivals around the world! Make sure to check out Uno by Javier Marco. For more Spanish shorts, check out Short of the Week, and sort by country to find more foreign language short films.

Detrás Del Espejo (Behind the Mirrors) by Julio O. Ramos

Best for: Beginners
Genre: Action
Location: Peru
Watch for: an exciting short with a dramatic end
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Elite! Your Next Netflix-Binge

Much of the cast during a scene. Courtesy of Netflix.

Looking for a new Spanish tv show filled with dramatic teenagers and a series of incredibly unlikely but intriguing events? Elite has you covered. 

Netflix released season 1 of Elite in 2018, and although being a Spanish show, it gained popularity around the world. Elite follows 3 scholarship students from a working-class part of town as they begin attending Las Encinas, a rich private high school, for Spain’s most elite. This parallels flashforwards to the main character’s mysterious murder. Throughout the series, viewers are watching the events that led up to the killing along with police interrogations following the murder. This leads a viewer to constantly ponder who was killed, who was the killer, and what was their motive. 

Elite has also been recognized for the diversity of its characters and storylines, taking on tough subjects especially for a dramatic teen tv show. There’s an inclusion of a gay storyline between two male characters, and their struggle to be accepted by one boy’s Muslim family. Additionally, one girl struggles with her religious identity when her school requires her not to wear a hijab to school. One main character even deals with the trials of being HIV-positive for the rest of their life. 

Elite tries to cover a large variety of themes, from those mentioned above, to class and race struggles. The show has been criticized for often glossing over these themes in order to focus on flashy drama. However, in comparison to other shows of the same genre, it still introduces many issues relevant to young people of this time. 

Elite does a good job of developing its characters as well. Many tropes are used at the beginning of the show, but it soon becomes clear that each character has a rich and interesting backstory explaining their actions as the show progresses.

Samuel during the murder scene that the show is focused on. Courtesy of Netflix.

For Spanish-language learners, Elite offers great practice. The show is meant for native Spanish speakers and uses Spain-centric Spanish. Characters give beautiful dialogues, some slow and some fast. For any level of Spanish learner, Elite offers a learning opportunity. Beginners may opt to listen in Spanish but use English subtitles, intermediates may rely on Spanish subtitles, and expert speakers can face a challenge by watching the show completely subtitle-free. 

SpanishDict: The Best Online Spanish-English Dictionary

SpanishDict is a super helpful English-Spanish Translator website, specializing in helping English speakers learn Spanish. The app is very comprehenisze with its definitions, offering examples, pronounciation help, a conjugation chart, popular phrases, a thesaurus section, and examples from the web. 

The website also has hundreds of articles explaining each type of conjugation, common grammar mistakes, and a range of other issues faced by native English speakers while learning the language. A new section of the website now also offers vocabulary practice.

A screenshot of a popular article detailing the difference between “ser” and “estar”.

Unlike Google Translate, SpanishDict can translate words and entire phrases. When translating a word, the site will pull up a dictionary-styled page explaining each definition for the word and when to use each one. This prevents beginner speakers from making mistakes when translating a word such as “fly,” which has very distinct meanings between the noun and verb form. Additionally, when translating entire phrases, SpanishDict gives you the results of Microsoft, SDL, and PROMT. In my experience, SpanishDict has yet to mistranslate any word or phrase I’ve entered, and it’s my go to for looking up a Spanish word I don’t know. 

The newest addition to the SpanishDict website offers basic vocabulary exercises. The majority of “flashcards” are grouped by topic, such as ‘animals’ or ‘foods’, but may be useful for an introductory Spanish learner.

To access, go to

Spanish Novel, Los Detectives Salvajes

This masterpiece by Roberto Bolaño centers around a group of radical poets and their hungry, crazy, and romantic lives in Mexico City. It’s got lesbians, mystery suicides, schizophrenics, and a lot of jaw-dropping stories. It’s worth to struggle with the Spanish because Bolaño is a masterful wordsmith, but this book will be most enjoyable for advanced Spanish readers.