Why Every Popular Rap Song Gets a Latin Trap Remix

Gaming the system by combining an original track with an ostensibly related one with some level of Latinx representation is a long-standing strategy.

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Apr 18 2019, 8:10pm

via YouTube

Earlier this month, Dominican-American hip-hop artist DaniLeigh earned RIAA gold certification for her single “Lil BeBe.” Those paying attention caught wind of the South Florida native’s catchy cut when it dropped last fall as part of Def Jam’s burgeoning campaign to push new rap acts after a lucrative if off-brand foray into the pure Canadian pop of Justin Bieber and Alessia Cara. Some six months after that initial release and just a couple weeks prior to the sales award announcement, the powers-that-be let off a remix with urbano notables Nio Garcia and Rauw Alejandro. With a dembow rhythm shoehorned in, the former, still feeling fresh off the tremendous success of reggaeton posse cut “Te Boté,” and the up-and-coming latter join DaniLeigh for a wholly revised bilingual version of her radio-driven hit.

Like it or lump it, the so-called Latin remix phenomenon isn’t going away. In the streaming economy, where every Spotify play and YouTube click counts, gaming the system by combining digital consumption of an original track with that of a ostensibly related one sporting some level of Latinx representation will be the wave until further notice. While DaniLeigh’s version does much better than most, with a reconfigured beat and her newly recorded vocals done predominantly in Spanish, the general opportunism and pandering of the strategy nonetheless stays wholly transparent. (The move works both ways, of course, as made evident by Latin American artists like Anitta and Bad Bunny snagging North American rappers for their singles and album projects.)

Still, as major label executives continue to pat one another on the back for the cross-departmental synergies of these often ancillary tracks, traperos have been dropping their own unsanctioned Spanish-language versions of hip-hop hits. Mixtape heads know there’s nothing new to jumping on someone else’s beat and attempting to make it one’s own, whether as a freestyle or something more structured, even if only for a few fire minutes. But it speaks volumes that, beyond some of the more overtly pop-wise acts generating most of the press around música urbana, traperos carry on the tradition as authentically as ever.

Keeping proper tabs on all of these freestyles and remixes would require an entire monthly column of their own. Many of these Latin trap takes on English-language rap songs come replete with music videos, benefitting from the fortuitous high quality meets low budget nature of today’s visual recording technology. Unsurprisingly, one of the most reliable places to find these cuts is YouTube, by far the biggest streaming platform for urbano artists. A simple search on the site for “Latin remix” or “Spanish remix) and the name of any hot rap track all-but guarantees a result.

Fans of Blueface’s smash “Thotiana” will find instant gratification in “KLK Thotiana,” slickly executed by New York metro area traperos Tali Goya and Lito Kirino. Shot in what appears to be a modest hotel suite, the duo’s video makes the most of the setting with a few well-placed models and narcotic accoutrement. And lest anyone doubt the potential for such a track, the clip has garnered more than 920,000 plays in less than a month-and-a-half, no doubt a function of virality converging with the respective artists’ sizable underground followings.

Having quite notably appeared on the official “Bodak Yellow” Latin remix with Cardi B, New York’s own Messiah El Artista has an impressive selection of such songs in his YouTube discography that stretches back quite a few years. He slays over Future’s “Fuck Up Some Commas” and flexes flawlessly on the Metro Boomin beat for 21 Savage’s “No Heart.” It’s little wonder that he’s built up enough of a reputation to sport the title King of the Spanish remix.

Naturally, the format is hardly the sole purview of urbano’s known quantities. Thanks to the suspiciously Democratic YouTube algorithm, one can search for a Latin remix of Calboy’s “Envy Me” and end up with multiple options. Cash in hand, New England’s El Maldito Budy delivers his confident take in the confines of an underpass, flashing the finger to a Providence police cruiser that conveniently whizzes by. If that doesn’t satisfy, Latin versions by CriCri Fly Boy, D Produkt, and the aforementioned Lito Kirino are but a click away.

Newly emerging Billboard Hot 100 hits like Megan Thee Stallion’s “Big Ole Freak” and Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” seem all-but destined for the Spanish-language freestyle treatment in the coming weeks. If nothing else, all of this serves to remind that Latin trap is inextricably part and parcel of modern English-language hip-hop.

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