Compact Disc (CD)
Despite the fact that the United States’ Latino population reaches nearly 64 million, Latin music continues to experience a perpetual “moment.” Behind this frequently employed phrase—which captures a surge in popularity while subtly implying its transient nature—lies a more significant issue: the mainstream press and the music industry have historically failed to recognize that Latino artists have consistently crafted invaluable art. Decorated artists and long-lasting genres are presented to non-Latino audiences as isolated phenomena, perpetually reselling Latin music as a fad, one that demands the listener’s attention only once it becomes ubiquitous. Luckily, the millions of Latinos living in the United States know better. This art warrants praise and demands acknowledgment for what it is—an intrinsic part of the beautiful, diverse fabric of this country.
On Cash Corridos 3, Cash Bently, an American-born producer with El Salvadorian and Guatemalan roots, shows that a memorable album doesn’t appear out of thin air. Bently started his music career at age seven, touring as part of his family’s cumbia band, and later became part of a new wave of artists and producers on Soundcloud, where he immersed himself in a subgenre of trap called pluggnB. Combining his upbringing in a primarily Latin American community with his experience as a Soundcloud rapper, Cash Bently delivers a modern take on regional Mexican music, somewhere between hip-hop, sad sierreño, and corridos tumbados.
These influences are immediately recognizable in tracks like “Platicar” and “Enamorado” on Cash Corridos 3. “Platicar” is a mellow ballad with softly Auto-Tuned vocals, high-pitched echoes, and racy lyrics that imply an affair with a married woman. Boasting traditional horns and string flourishes, “Enamorado” brings out a bravado in Bently with which he effortlessly serenades an imaginary lover, as if he were an elder crooner. Standout “Negaron Un Favor” recounts Bently’s experience growing up in the States. Its tough lyrics speak about sipping codeine and out-earning his peers, all while trying to carve a name for himself. The horn arrangements, tightly paired with a polished acoustic guitar riff, make for a hard-hitting tune that is part corrido, part outlaw country.
Songs like “Amar Otra Vez” and “Este Mundo,” showcase Bently’s versatility. Understated bedroom pop arrangements marked by subtle electronic textures and warbly synth tones act as a bridge to a mellower section of the album. These tracks dispense with horns and punchy strings in favor of an indie pop approach. On both songs, Bently channels feelings of alienation and longing: being at odds with the world, experiencing heartbreak, and yearning for a loved one. And though these themes are present throughout the album, they never become redundant. Instead, they work together as one long multifaceted ballad that reflects dual musical lineages. Cash Bently’s infusion of modern hip-hop with Mexican traditional music creates a uniquely American album influenced by the precedents of Black and Latin innovators—captivating and sonically rich.