Drums echo again to ancestors throughout eras and continents. Within the Dominican Republic, Afro-diasporic rhythms map via widespread genres like merengue and dembow, exposing fraught bonds between the Caribbean nation and its sister nation, Haiti. The 22-year-old rapper Albreydy Holguín, aka Inka, seeks to untangle this sophisticated kinship. On “Celebration De Palo,” he extends a booming invitation to fellow Dominicans to “reconocer a nuestro lado africano” (“acknowledge our African facet”), highlighting the municipality of Villa Mella in Santo Domingo as a middle of Black resistance—from the enslaved individuals who died on colonial sugarcane plantations to the work of land rights activist Florinda Soriano (aka Mamá Tingó) within the Nineteen Seventies. Singers Vita and Yhonsi contribute triumphant harmonies whereas lead percussionist Evaristo Moreno bangs on balsié drums (or palos) and handcrafted tambourines, fluctuating between salve and prí-prí rhythms. “Mira cómo se te está moviendo el pie/Ritmo caribeño que viene en tus genes/No le tengas miedo” (“Look how your foot is transferring/Caribbean rhythm that is available in your genes/Don’t be afraid of it”), Inka growls. “Celebration De Palo” is a euphoric celebration of heritage, musical roots handed throughout generations.
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