On Cultural Identity:Music

This blog post is part of a series on my own experience with cultural identity. Future posts will soon follow. 

Every Monday morning on my commute to work, I put on my earphones and enthrall in a listening session of Discover Weekly, a playlist based on your listening history crafted by Spotify, one of the largest online music streaming services. The playlist automatically refreshes itself every Monday, providing a new roundup of tracks catered to your own musical preferences.

For the last two weeks, my Discover Weekly playlist has been saturated with Spanish tracks. Initially, I was baffled with the absence of English tracks, but then I remembered the algorithm Discover Weekly uses to select songs.

In an effort to stay in touch with my culture and native tongue, I’ve been listening more to Spanish music than that in English in order to preserve what I define as my own identity, which largely includes the Spanish language.

About a month after starting work in Washington, D.C., I began to feel a dire need to seek external cultural stimuli. Coming from El Paso, Texas, a city abundant in cultural identity, I felt fickle and foreign. El Paso is a fusion of both American and Mexican idioms, a conglomerate entity of the American dream with a Mexican flare.

I had interned in D.C. for five months before, so it wasn’t as if the city was new to me, but I found myself trying to recreate certain cultural aesthetics I could easily find back home.

The issue of cultural identity-with its many variables and adaptations-is a complex one that I’ll discuss in depth on a future post, but music is a essential staple of it. Most cultures and sub-cultures have different musical genres that help define the wide scope of its nature.

This is how I turned to music.

For me, music has long been the most useful art form that can encompass the many contributing factors that shape my identity. Spanish music, in this instance, has helped me better comprehend and utilize my first language. But music also has a way of capturing the geographical and communal essence of the areas/cities of its origin. It’s magical when you hear the sounds of the streets, the vitality of the people and the social and political awareness of that community through music. It can work as an embodiment of life in certain areas.

Through Discover Weekly, I’ve been able to vicariously be in touch with my Mexican and Latino culture while far away from my own border community.

I’ve put together a small compilation of some of the tracks that have helped me remind myself of the sonic part of my culture. Some are new, some are older, but they are all in Spanish.

Espero que disfruten.

-José

CITRICO-ATEMPORAL:

CARLA MORRISON-VEZ PRIMERA

NIÑO COHETE-EL BOSQUE

LA YEGROS- MAGNETISMO

CAIFANES- ANTES DE QUE NOS OLVIDEN

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