Alynda Lee Segarra looks inward to her heritage and knocks it out of the park. Segarra, a Bronx native of Puerto Rican descent, decided to dig into her roots for inspiration. As Segarra was digging into the punk scene on the Lowe East side in her teens and hopping trains before landing in New Orleans in her 20s, her heritage was lost in the wash. As she approached the momentous 3-0, she took a long hard look at where she came from, what she became and in my humble opinion, what can she do to make the world a better place.
To achieve this self-realization, Segarra developed a concept album centered around The Navigator. a/k/a Navita Milagros Negrón, as “this girl who grows up in a city that’s like New York, who’s a street kid, like me when I was little, that has a special place in the history of her people.”
Over the course of the album, Segarra expands her sound without fully severing the tether of the Americana genre where she built her name. I have to admit I wasn’t immediately won over by the lead single, Rican Beach when she released it but it works oh so well on the album. As does everything, it is tough to pick out a highlight as one tune dovetails into another.
That is until, the album culminates in the powerful Pa’lante, a song inspired by a newspaper published by 1970s Puerto Rican activist group, The Young Lords. The song is part protest / part empowerment for a group from yesteryear that sadly rings true today in our current climate. In many ways, her anger and strength on this track reminds me of Killer Mike of Run The Jewels.
Segarra was on Daily Show this past week and it made me appreciate her even more.
Hurray for the Riff Raff is here