Champeta (Colombia)

Champeta–also known as “Creole Therapy”–is an highly danceable genre of Afro-Colombian music that finds its inspiration in the historical struggle between the Afro-Colombian population and Colombia’s European-descended upper classes. In the 1960s and ’70s Colombians facing poverty in and around the city of Cartagena blended African rhythms with Caribbean dance music and played this music–LOUDLY!–through speakers known as “picós” in public dance parties. These parties, which also came to be known as picós, served as an emotional release for struggling Colombians, who referred to the music played there–called “champeta” as a reference to the champeta machete used by workers in the fields–as “Creole Therapy.” The ruling class of Cartegena initially attempted to ban picós and critics have labeled champeta as “aggressive” and “tastless,” but Colombia’s youth continue to embrace the genre, alongside related Caribbean genres such as Reggaeton, as a form of class-conscious artistic expression. Learn more: “The Sound of Cultural Struggle.”

COUNTRY: Colombia
KEY INSTRUMENTS: Bass, Congas, Drum kit, Guitar, Synthesizer

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