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Cosa Nuestra Presents Ìfé

Cosa Nuestra Presents Ìfé

“The drum is the pulse of our culture, and it unites all of our people regardless of where we come from.” Manolo López, Founder of the Collective Cosa Nuestra 1

Cosa Nuestra celebrated Latin music and culture at La Factoria (The Factory), one of Greenpoint Brooklyn’s newest venues. The event was billed as “Pa La Ciudad!” (For the City) and it was hosted by the renowned “new gen,” Nuyorican poet and actor, Flaco Navaja, who guided the crowd through a transcultural history of El Tambor aka the drum – from Africa to Latin America and New York City.

The festivities featured crescendo building performances by ÊMINA, an all-female Latin Pop group with a Salsa tinge, ÌFÉ, ILU AYE (Drum of the World) a consummate Afro-Latino collaboration of young multi-talented percussionists, Pedro Adorno Irizarry and Cosa Nuestra’s “Salsa Dura” Conjunto led by Hommy Rivera. Also, a rich selection of tracks dosed with hearty “old school” salsa by DJ Christian Martire (Sociedad Records).

At La Factoria, the mood and the atmosphere was festive and the crowd – an eclectic mix of hipsters, island Puerto Ricans, Latin Americans, Nuyoricans, Pan Latinos and a sprinkling of Baby Boomers – were intent on an intergenerational celebration.

As xenophobic, anti-immigration politics and Puerto Rico’s crises sober us up, Cosa Nuestra seeks to use art, culture, and cuisine to bring Latino ethos to life and heal and transform the conversation around Latinidad. Proof of this event was the curative power of our Afro-Caribbean rhythms – celebrating Afro-Latinos!

The personal magnet for this review was ÌFÉ. Their performance was a mind/heart sojourn of inter-dimensional quality with a “?légbá” mindset (Divinity foremost in opening Pathways to Consciousness).

ÌFÉ is a collaborative team of devotee/artists who contribute their talent, soul, and spirit to a precedent-setting creation not seen since Lazaro Ros’s “Sintesis 1 and 2” (1990s) where Afro-Cuban, predominantly Yorùbá (Lùkùmí) infused religious music for Orisa was mixed with progressive electronic fusion rock jazz. Sintesis was cutting edge then. ÌFÉ is cutting edge now – carving a similar yet distinct path of their own – beyond clichés and “electro-rumba.”

Digitally enhanced melodies and rhythm synced with 2/3 clave on top of six-part electro-batá rhythmic conversations emulate primordial language subconsciously understood by humans and “grokked” logically by Orisa (Deities). The music moves you on multiple levels. Further, overlays of continuous flavorful “repicando” (percussive riffing) embellish these conversations.

The result? Joy and waves of Euphoria!

Cosa Nuestra - ÌféÌFÉ: created by “Awo Ni Orunmila” (Ifá Preist) Otura Mun aka Mark Underwood, was created in Puerto Rico – our endeared enchanted island (Querida Isla del Encanto) with idiosyncrasies so unique, even Brazilian Percussionist Airto Moreira said, “Latino: Aqui Se Puede” (1986, Montuno) – “Here. One is able,” when he recorded in Puerto Rico with island based musicians.

ÌFÉ’s approach to Afro-Latino history is encoded and layered with highly nuanced creativity from multi-lingua-cultural reference points. Honey-like Al Capella “coro” (choruses) call and response vocal “hooks” that uplift and tasteful “Quintiando con Sabor” (intelligent and flavorful percussive conversations) thus encouraging close listening and reflective savoring.

Behind the scenes, the paternal mentor is veteran Akpon Ol’ Obàtálá Emilio Barreto (Master Devotional Singer to Òrìšà (The Divinities) – Yorùbá Deities – akin to a Jewish Cantor) graciously guiding ÌFÉ’s spirit filled team of musical Sky Walkers with Yoda like acumen. Decades of dedication to the craft of devotional song / cultural understanding of Orisa, is selflessly passed on.

With divinely sanctioned “Apoyo Fraternal” (fraternal support) by fellow Awo (Ifá Priest) Èjì Ogbè Rafael Maya and the first class team of dedicated musico-artistes present a formidable priestly presence onstage – which is somewhat unusual in venues of this sort. It was a breath of fresh air, ethereal yet grounded in a renewed approach to tradition. The supporting cast at this event was Anthony Sierra, Beto Torrens and Yarimir Caban where her voice – at modulated devotional invocations to Òrìšà (The Divinities) evoked heartfelt emotions and raised goose bumps.

Before a full house as on the new CD, ÌFÉ brings an organic, digital-enhanced Yorùbá-Lùkùmí inspired, creolized marinated Afro-Caribbean sensibility to the world. This event, dedicated to Africa and the drum, debuted their new production entitled “IIII+IIII.”

ÌFÉ began with Preludio (Èjì Ogbè, Track 1). Wisely syncing with the first Odu Ifá (Principal Chapter of God encoded wisdom), which initiated a brief yet powerful journey through primal creation. Al Capella chants of Ifá verse poetically state: “Horses we mount with Ifá as King of this world guiding our essence on our way to “ÌFÉ”…

The ascension prepared the audience to ground with ”Come Down (Umbo),” a digital-clave multi-lingual male lead followed by the sweet diva Yarimir Caban. Her vocals – at times digitally modulated — flow like “guarapo de caña” (extracted sugar cane and syrupy juice) – suggesting a flattering call for Yemaya / Y?m?ja (Mother of Children of Fish) descend and heal her children.

“YumaVision” – a savvy piece creatively uses unique Cuban colloquial “Yuma” (referring to mainland U.S.A). The multi-contextual delivery indicates a hipness of regional and cultural peculiarities.

“Aro” (ritmo electro-bata) for Yemaya / Y?m?ja (Mother of Children of Fish): Crescendo building slow to rapid tempos set to blue lighting and white cloth. The tune transports the audience to an oceanic realm in preparation for what is to come.

“Prayer for Odùduwà” (Para Merceditas) – The first King of the ancient primordial Yorùbá city of Ile-”Ife” impresses with depth and somber respect as it segues to devotional honor to Obàtálá with “Baba Loroke” (Father of the mountain of wealth). Gently lead by Yarimir Caban.

Otura Mun’s heart touches hearts with “House of Love” (Ogbe Yekun”). Sonic-visuals envelop and transport the audience on a voyage via ÌFÉ – House Of Love (Ogbe Yekun – OFFICIAL VIDEO on YouTube provide the link).

Dedicated to “Ara Orun” / “Egun” (celestial / terrestrial relations), the piece evokes an intuitive feeling of sky walking.

ÌFÉ’s evening excursion closed with “Bangah” (Pico y Palo) with an invitation to liberate the audience from mental and spiritual slavery and is inspired by Puerto Rico’s liberation. From the opening inhale/exhale oxygenating intro to the honoring of warrior Father divinities Ògún (Yorùbá) and Sarabanda (Bantu / Ki-Kongo) this flow invigorates with electro-bata ChaCha Lodafun rhythm, creolized Bozal “Sia! Also, it announces the intentional use of “Nsalo Maleko,” a pre-Islamic creolized retention of ancient Central African greeting of PEACE. Universal then, universal now!

Performed in a festive secular venue, “ÌFÉ” succeeded in delivering a genius, heart touching sequence of sacred songs. A unique spiritual ambiance was created before our eyes and ears – unusual for a raucous nightclub and a healthy and much needed humanitarian message was delivered con Sabor Criollo (creolized flavor).

To close, from the outset, ÌFÉ’s stage presence establishes an ethereal yet firmly grounded en clave 2/3 time (meter structured and controlled) and delivers consistent and ageless advice to humanity: cultivate Iwa Pele, Iwa Suuru, Iwa Rere (a character that is gentle, patient, content). Their gentle, soothing sweet water, sonic signature is consistent with the IFÁ principle of developing gentle, patient and soft character as human virtues. And, ÌFÉ surprises when the flow intentionally morphs into a visceral and muscular staccato groove crafted to stimulate and ultimately unshackle the human heart towards Expansion + Love = Liberation. ÌFÉ excels with ?Ášé / Aché!

Quote from “Enclave” :
Grokked: to understand thoroughly and intuitively (Coined by Robert Heinlien in “Stranger in a Stranger Land”).
FEATURED PHOTO: Melissa Isabel

I am an Ifa Priest — an “Awo Ifa Ol’Obatala”……. Spiritual Counselor / Mentor and Educator…… When addressed and respectfully referred to as “Babalawo” (Father of Esoteric Knowledge), I humbly and graciously accept the title.

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New York Report

“Si Va’ Llover” and the Advent of Música Artesanal



Henry Cole

Henry Cole & Villa Locura release a new song featuring Alex López ‘El Callejero’ – “Si Va’ Llover” – and a new form of making and sharing music.

Alex López and Henry Cole met in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico sometime around 1992 when Henry attended the Manuel A. Barretto School.

Two images of Alex have remained forged in Henry’s memory. One is of Alex hanging out with Henry’s oldest sister, Tidzia Cole, and her friends in front of his grandmother Angelina Simon’s house on Calle Estación. The other is of Alex watching him from a little store next to the Cundo Rovira Pharmacy, where they sold “icys” (snow cones) and “empanadillas” (meat pies). Henry sensed that Alex was letting him know with his eyes that he was looking after him.

Henry Cole and Alex López
Henry Cole and Alex López

In 2006, the two met again in New York City during a Bomplenazo in which Henry participated as a guest of Los Pleneros de 21. Alex was part of the group Cocolay y sus Pleneros. As soon as they discovered they’re both musicians, they knew they wanted to collaborate. Whenever they met up, they talked about doing something together.

The opportunity arose in 2019. Henry was to appear with this group, Villa Locura, in Mayagüez for the first time, and he invited Alex to join them. He also asked Alex if he had a song that he’d like to adapt for Villa Locura. Alex sent him “Si Va’Llover.” Henry listened to several versions of the song and created a new arrangement within a couple of hours. And then, the gig in Mayaguez was canceled.

Henry performed “Si Va’Llover” in Santurce last December (2019) and although Alex didn’t sing with him, it was clear that people loved the song.

In 2020, Henry decided to record the arrangement of “Si Va’Llover,” this time with the participation of Alex López and a dream band. This is the result!

About The Process

The recording of the song entailed two experiments. The first was for Henry to see how his music would turn out with Villa Locura, his band made up of local Puerto Rican musicians, with the exception of keyboardist Jason Lindner.

The second experiment was to explore the legendary AQ30 Studios in Bayamón, which during the 1990s Merengue era recorded many greatest hits. Perhaps the most famous was, Elvis Crespo’s megahit “Suavemente.”

Henry Cole at AQ30 Studios in Bayamón, Puerto Rico
Henry Cole at AQ30 Studios in Bayamón, Puerto Rico

Discussing the process, Henry says: There’s a lot of analog equipment from that era that wasn’t being used because most of the work now is done with Pro Tools. I wanted to get the gears cranking again on the machine that had been so successful.

I started listening to some of the albums that were recorded there to relate the space to the music. I called trumpeter Luis Aquino and asked him how they recorded and what kind of equipment they used. Every time I saw the founder and recording engineer, Ricardo Marty I asked him a thousand questions and slowly I gathered fascinating information about the use and the history of the space.

Through these experiments I got a sense of what it would be like to record my next album in Puerto Rico.

At one point I felt that the equipment and the space spoke to me and welcomed me. This was confirmed in the takes that we recorded. Especially when I saw how the artists shone as their parts were added, and how easy it was done. It took Alex only one and a half takes to record his vocals. ‘I put on my headphones and went on a trip. I felt everything flow at once,’ he told me.

We only had one rule in the studio: no plugin’s (signal processor, equalizer, or compressor). The sound had to come from the subject to the analog machines without “filtering.”

About The Art

The artwork was inspired by the Portfolio de Plena series, a set of prints created by the Puerto Rican painter, printmaker, calligrapher, Lorenzo Homar, and painter and the draftsman, graphic artist, muralist, and illustrator Rafael Tufino, who celebrated Afro-Puerto Rican music in the 1950s.

Henry Cole - Si va a llover que llueva

Also, Henry called the painter, Martin Garcia Rivera, who is very familiar with Homar and Tufino’s works, and respects the Puerto Rican culture.

“Martin’s process was an incredible learning experience for me. In the middle of the pandemic he sent me photos and meditations about his process for creating the piece, a process called Intaglio, using Punta Seca. One day Martin called me and I heard the joy in his voice, and knew that he had succeeded. That call lasted about three hours. We talked a lot about the painter, Francisco Oller, Puerto Rico, our culture, and Martin’s story.”

“The press is manual, it’s like traveling back in time to a hundred, two hundred, even five hundred years ago. The past is the present with different actors and all that today has to offer,” says Martin Garcia Rivera.

La Música Artesanal is Born

Once the “master” was finished, Henry shared it with some people in the music industry, garnering the usual results. Some said, “Wow, this amazing, it’ll stick.” And others said, “We don’t know if it belongs on a playlist, it’s too long, it’s too instrumental, it’s too jazzy, it’s regional, people consume a more urban sound.”

The story was the same when presented “El Diablo” with Tito Allen and “Caminando” with Tego Calderón.

Henry was aware that even if there were some interest, he would have to give away his song for streaming, which generates less than a penny per play. And with a schedule of canceled concerts for the rest of the year, he realized he wouldn’t be able to continue in that direction, nor could he expect the industry to dictate what he should do with his music.

So Henry decided to take inspiration from the figure of the artisan, using this analogy: Craftspeople make their handiwork —whether it be jewelry, or furniture, or carved nativity scenes— but they would never expect to make a living by simply giving it away as if it were a free sample. This would leave the artisan with no profit to buy food or materials.

For example, there’s craft beer, craft coffee, craft jewelry. A craft beer is more expensive than a regular beer. Why? Because of the quality of the ingredients, the process by which it’s made, the attention to detail.

Henry developed the idea of launching his own platform to sell his art in conjunction with visual designer Abdiel Flores.

La Música Artesanal also seeks to bring together artists who share this same thinking and passion for their crafts. In this way, they’ll form a Mercado of craft musicians.

“And so,” says Henry, “I offer you here my Música Artesanal, created with the best musicians, artists, engineers, machines, and processes.”

“The ‘mission,’ was to create an aggressive, punchy, in your face, groovy, virtuosic sound. Also, I wanted to present my vision of New Plena and send a message to the other Plena, Bomba, and Salsa Bands in Puerto Rico, that, ‘This is 2020 and Henry Cole and Villa Locura is here!’ Aside from the lyrics, I composed all the parts. I brought in the bassist Ricky Rodriguez, who gave me the aggressive, nasty bass lines I was seeking. This virtuoso type of bass playing happens in Merengue but rarely in Plena. Also, there is Trap (a sub-genre of hip-hop ) played by musicians, not computers. ” — Henry Cole


Well, my people
Our Plena
Our Roots
Our Culture
If It’s Going to Rain, Let it Rain
Nothing Will Stop My Plena!



Henry Cole – Music, Drums
Alex López – Lyrics, Vocals
Martin Rivera Garcia – Art
Michael Brauer – Mixing Engineer
Emanuel Santamaria – Punteador
Axel Rodriguez – Guiro
Jason Lindner – Keyboards
Piro Rodriguez – Trumpet
Jahaziel Garcia – Trumpet
Jonathan Acevedo – Tenor Sax
Victor Maldonado – Baritone Sax
Javi Perez – Guitar
Giovanni De La Rosa – Guitar
Ricky Rodriguez – Bass
Jay Laboy – Coro
Antoinette Rodriguez – Coro
Sebastian Otero – Coro
Glorimar Nogueras – Coro
Recording & Editing
Giovanni De La Rosa
Wendell Sanders
Luis Rodriguez
Rubén Morales
Matt Burr
Hector Espinoza
Fernando Reyes
Idania Valencia – Mastering
Abdie Flores – Cover
José Diaz – Video
Joealis Filippetti – Promotional Voice Over

Tomas Peña – Promo, Editor

Artist Website/Source:
La Música Artesanal:

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