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Winning the coveted Canadian Polaris Prize for her self-released album La Papessa in 2017, Colombia-born Lido Pimienta broke radical ground with her acceptance speech. “I hope that the Aryan specimen who told me to go back to my own country two weeks after I arrived in London, Ontario, Canada is watching this,” she powerfully scathed, bringing further to light the reality that people of colour face in predominately white communities.
Three years later, stirred by the deep-rooted fallout from Colombia’s reaction to Steve Harvey’s incorrect Miss Universe declaration, Lido has channeled her reaction to racism and imperialism into Miss Colombia. An album of two halves, the first blends her culture into the electronic sounds that saw La Papessa garner acclaim, while the second returns to the traditions of San Basilio de Palenque, the oldest surviving town in the Americas founded by freed slaves.
It’s a powerful moment as the Bjork-esque orchestration of Coming Thru gives way to a spoken word prelude by Rafael Cassiani Cassiani of Sexteto Tabalá, the Palenque band that Lido credits for her musical heritage. From here, Miss Colombia is steeped in history. Yet as Lido remarked to NPR in the build-up to the album’s release, it’s “a cynical love letter to Colombia”, one that looks at her history through the veil of oppression. It examines what it means to be black in a country that doesn’t always value blackness, a bittersweet battle between her respect for the likes of Palenque’s tradition and the distain for the racism around that.
“It starts when you get baptized and then you get your first communion, she reveals, going on to unfurl the societal celebration of white beauty over black. Singing almost entirely in Spanish on Miss Colombia, even those without a grasp on the lyrics will feel the balance of respect and frustration born from this. As the album closes with an elaborated rendition of its opening song, it cements its empowering shift – one driven by an exploration of tradition and a heartfelt dose of Lido’s individuality.
Eso Que Tu Haces
Nada (feat. Li Saumet)
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