Songs for the Road No. 22: A Soundtrack for a Road Trip on the West Side of Colombia

by Ekua on April 2, 2014 in Colombia,songs for the road

In Colombia, there are distinct Afro-Colombian cultures on both the Caribbean and Pacific Coasts. The Pacifico Afro-Colombian culture is even more obscure to outsiders and harder to access than that of the Caribbean Coast. Perhaps because of that, the Afro-Colombian culture there is quite strong.

African rhythms and call and response singing are combined to the achieve the earthy Pacifico music called currulao. The most distinctive aspect of this music is the sound of the marimba de chonta. The marimba originated in West Africa, and slaves brought to Colombia used local materials to create a similar instrument. The marimba de chonta is often incorporated into currulao fusion music which blends the traditional style with hip-hop, electronica, and other genres.

In addition to the distinct music of the Pacifico, salsa music thrives in Cali. Colombian hip hop is also prominent in this part of the country and the lyrics often comment on social justice issues in the region. Here’s a collection of songs that will get you into the unique spirit of the western side of Colombia:

Vengo de Guapi by Cantadoras del Pacífico

Muévelo Negro / Ñanguita by Nidia Góngora & Quantic

Que Rico Boogaloo by La-33

De Donde Vengo Yo by ChocQuibTown

Amanece by Herencia de Timbiquí

Homenaje by Asilo 38

Dub del Pacifico by Quantic Presenta Flowering Inferno

Note: While Pacifico music and culture are difficult to access as a traveler, there are some annual festivals in Cali that celebrate the Afro-Colombian culture of the west side. The most well known is Festival de Musica del Pacifico Petronia Alvarez which is held in September and there is also Dia del Pacifico in December.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah Shaw April 2, 2014 at 1:53 pm

I love your posts about Colombian music, Ekua. I just saw Bomba Estereo and Systema Solar perform at Carnaval in Barranquilla. Have you heard “La Boquilla” by Bomba Estereo? It’s about the community I live in. 🙂


Ekua April 4, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Thanks! Yup, I have heard that one. Bomba Estereo comes through the Bay Area every so often, but I haven’t seen them live yet!


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