Hot damn! We love that we get to welcome summer in Chicago with the sultry, gritty and tempestuous mood of Amigo, the newest roots-based single from Chicago musician Lester Rey featuring Nino Augustine. Bringing together bomba, plena and urban rhythms, this Puerto Rico and Panamanian collaboration is the first song from his soon to be released EP, Epifania. Check out the video, and all those incredible cameos, in the video here.
“El Caribe esta presente in neo-soul artist Lester Rey’s (Chicago) latest collaboration “Amigo” featuring rising Panamanian urbano artist, Nino Augustine (Atlanta). Following the success of his recently released Santuario EP, “Amigo” is the first released track of his follow up EP, Epifania. Where the Santuario project stood as a moment of self reflection, “Amigo” insist that lines need to be drawn personally and for the Carribean people as a whole — “yo no necesito amigo que me diga como hacer lo mio…tu eres tu propio santuario.”
I learned to play percussion as a kid growing up in the Pentecostal church but I wasn’t allowed to take part in traditional Puerto Rican cultural practices like Bomba. I was just steps away from the Bomberos in the park but it seemed like daily life including the schools I attended were telling me to assimilate, forget the past, and conform to U.S. expectations. Coming into adulthood I felt so far from my roots and I finally decided to say “ya basta – voy hacer lo mío”. As I continued to shape my sound and the meaning behind my songs, that mantra started to take a new form. No necesito amigo que me diga how I can or can’t connect with my heritage. No necesito amigo in the music industry to tell me that bomba isn’t a viable sound for an emerging artist to promote. Mi isla no necesita amigo who just uses us. We got us, I got me. -Lester Rey-
Lester Rey is a fearless musical innovator who is no stranger to sparking necessary conversation in music. In the summer of 2018, Lester released the single “Ni Santa” which featured Lila Star, the first openly trans woman video vixen in a reggaeton video. Keeping great company in 2019, the title track “Santuario” featured Chicago rap gem Ric Wilson, a self described “nouveau disco inspired rap superstar, United Nations Geneva-visiting activist, and community goofball”. The track went on to break into new platforms on Spotify playlists Fresh Finds: Latin, Fresh Finds, Cancion del Dia, and NPR Slingshot.
In the spirit of cross cultural collaboration, Nino Augustine joins Lester Rey to complete a vision of Puerto Rico and Panamá united in diaspora by way of Chicago and Atlanta to bring a Puerto Rican Bomba together with a Panamanian Plena fusion. In the video, the next gen celebrates with elders, together bringing in a fresh face and sound to cherished traditions.
The musical connection between Panama and Puerto Rico is filled with so much history that has influenced me tremendously. I grew up to my family blasting Ismael Rivera. He’s still a Héreo back home. We still have murals of him and his love for Panama is all over his music. I feel a very similar connection with artists like Tego Calderon, who fearlessly are always giving props to Panama and its artist. For me it’s important to carry on that legacy and collaborate with artists such as Lester Rey that have a similar goal in mind, which is simply to create great music. “Amigo” is a perfect example of that beautiful mixture of cultures and mash up of genres that are becoming a new identity to us, the music innovators that are influenced by all these different musical proposals. -Nino Augustine-
Nino Augustine recently released “Agua” with the Brooklyn-based label APOCALIPSIS and his latest single, “Activo”, released this June has already hit multiple Spotify editorial playlists. His presence in the Urbano landscape is timely and Nino has arrived to bring folks back to the Panamanian roots of la musica Urbana. Where better to build for an Urbano artist than in Atlanta, where the rich history of Hip Hop continues to inform his style. Nino brings a side to the story of Lester Rey’s “Amigo” that builds on the concept of shedding away frenemies by stating that he doesn’t have friends, but familia.
Cameos from: Buyepongo (CA), Bembona (NY), Lulu Be (IL), Pete Maestro Vale of Dos Santos (IL), El Lobo Suave (IL), Chicago Boricua Resistance (IL)”