LADAMA’s Oye Mujer is a record with catchy rhythms that speak out on sensitive topics: femicide, climate change, and migration.
An international music group, LADAMA was created by Lara Klaus (Brazil), Daniela Serna (Colombia), Mafer Bandola (Venezuela), and Sara Lucas (U.S.) in 2014 after a One Beat fellowship. From there on, they have been acting globally and thinking locally, using music as a lens to understand globalization, as Lucas explains in their 2018 TED Talk.
LADAMA was born to unite communities through music and socially engaged programs, which they have done in places like Barquisimeto in Venezuela, and Gamero in Colombia.
The idea is rather simple: music is a language that breaks all boundaries, and it can be used both on stage and on the streets. This way, and since its creation, LADAMA has shown children that they can do things that seemed impossible – and if they can do it with sound, they can do it with anything.
The ladies of LADAMA have taken upon breaking other kinds of boundaries, such as music genres or the way their instruments are supposed to be played. For example, in their 2017 single Porro Maracatu, they join a Colombian rhythm (porro) with a Brazilian one (maracatu), with rap and a Venezuelan bandola played in a blues style.
Oye Mujer, their latest album, continues exploring this way of relating to music and life while tackling sensitive topics for the Latina community: feminine pleasure and love, migration, femicide, social disparity. Oye Mujer (“Listen, woman”) calls to LADAMA’s sisters saying, “we connect with you, come listen to it.”
The first song of the album, Misterio, is a profoundly erotic song in which a woman’s sexual desires and nature’s fertility come together.
Abre tu boca
Ven y lame mi cosecha
Prueba mi siembra
Toca mi tierra
Muerde mis miedos
Desabróchame la piel
Inside my mountain
Hay un misterio
(Open your mouth
Come and lick my crop
Try my sowing
Touch my land
Bite my fears
Unbutton my skin
Inside my mountain
There’s a mystery)
Since ancient times women’s and nature’s fertility have been related, but by using nature’s language to talk about women’s sexual desires, LADAMA’s lyrics become erotic without being explicit. In that way, they bring to the table a topic in Latin America that is very rarely outspoken: female oral sex.
Inmigrante, other of the album’s highlights, is a slow merengue that reminds us of Juan Luis Guerra’s Buscando visa para un sueño. Although some of the lyric’s rhymes are a bit forced, they are catchy. The rarity of slow merengue forces you to stop and listen attentively and the chorus states a message much needed nowadays: immigrants are brave walkers.
Mar Rojo, with a punk riff that turns into a cumbia villera, is the most aggressive song of the album. It speaks of the red blood of the cis and trans women that have been murdered, of menstruation’s red blood as a sacred thing and of the fire that feeds our will.
Antes que correr
vos vas a probar tu poder
no silencies tu intención
ni tu deseo
soy humana, soy mujer, soy trans
y no quiero
que nos maten ni que apaguen nuestro fuego.
Yo no temo, no estoy presa, soy del viento.
Soy el nido
la guarida de la vida.
Le doy ala,
le doy fuego a mis ideas.
Vuelvo a vos
a nuestro cuerpo
a nuestro templo.
(Before you run
you’re going to prove your power
don’t silence your intention
nor your desire
I’m human. I’m female. I’m trans
and I don’t want
them to kill us or put out our fire.
I am not afraid. I am not a prisoner. I am of the wind.
I am the nest
the lair of life.
I give it wings,
I give fire to my ideas.
I come back to you
to our body
to our temple.)
After tackling oral sex, fertility, desire, migration, and femicide, the song Cada Uno talks about desire, the freedom to express it, getting rid of prejudices, and includes a hint to climate change.
Vamos aquí diciendo lo que sentimos
Digo las cosas como me vienen saliendo
Voy poquito a poco y la marea me va meciendo
Que no se caliente el mundo
pero sí nuestros cuerpos.
Que no se derritan los polos
pero sí los prejuicios de tu cerebro.
Vamos a un lugar donde podamos estallar
entre tu cuerpo y mi humedad.
Un poquito de partículas de sal, de miel y de azar.
(Let’s go and say here how we feel
I say things as they come to me
I’m going slowly and the tide is rocking me
Let the world not be heated
but our bodies do.
Don’t let the poles melt
but the prejudices in your brain do.
Let’s go somewhere where we can blow up
between your body and my moisture.
A few salt particles, honey, and chance.)
Oye Mujer portrays a fierce woman willing to fight for her dreams and goals while loving her body and sensuality. A balance many women struggle to achieve and rarely reflected in Latin American art.