Welcome back to Selections, a series of exclusive artist-curated Spotify playlists from those in the know.
The Belgium-based Galician artist Clara! burst into the wider consciousness with Reggaetoneras. This 40-minute mixtape showcased a selection of female-fronted reggaeton tracks intended to give props to many of the female artists whose contribution has long been overlooked in the scene – and bury the genre’s reputation as primarily male. With the wider world of dance music in European and North American cities increasingly embracing the sounds of Latin America, the tape arrived at a serendipitous moment and no doubt contributed to reggaeton’s increase in popularity outside of Spanish-speaking countries.
Two further Reggaetoneras mixtapes followed, and Clara! has also made strides as both producer and vocalist since the the first tape, with EPs in collaboration with Low Jack and Maoupa, the latest of which dropped on Les Disques De La Bretagne at the start of the year. She is also part of the PRR! PRR! crew in Belgium which operates in other musical realms.
Her Selections plays a lot like one of her mixtapes, only slowed down. Where the tapes contain a barrage of frenetic mixes and intricate layers, the layout of a playlist requires that each of this 20 tracks is given its full run, allowing for more time to settle into the songs. The basic aim is the same however, namely in connecting different strands and eras of this most fluid of genres, all the while putting the voices of women front and centre. Some of these tracks drip with hip-hop swag (Tambalea, Icey (Spanish Remix)), some get deep with the twisted sound design (Badman, Foufoune), and others still hit that cry-in-the-club emo spot (Droga Virtual, Amour & désastres, Last Words). There’s also French voices among the Spanish and English, proving just how broad a church this music can be. Yet more reasons to delve even further.
Clara! plays at The Peacock Society, Parc floral de Paris, 6 July