Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

‘Orquídeas:’ A love letter to Latin music

Kali Uchis delivers a breathtaking sophomore Spanish album
Photo courtesy of Kali Uchis’ official website.

Colombian-American singer Kali Uchis released her latest album, “Orquídeas,” on Jan. 12. The album is only her second Spanish-language album, the first being 2020’s “Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios).” While known for her R&B style of music, Uchis’ new record showcases her growing maturity in the genre whilst demonstrating heavy influences from contemporary Latin pop and Urbano music.

After establishing herself as a powerhouse of modern R&B following the release of her previous album, “Red Moon in Venus,” early last year, Uchis maintains her momentum with the release of “Orquídeas.” In this record she fully masters her signature style of seamlessly transitioning through Spanish and English lyrics. Utilizing aspects of a variety of traditional Latin music sounds, the record debuts as an instant Latin pop classic.

The birth of “Orquídeas” can be traced back to July 2023, when Uchis released the first single for the album, “Muñekita.” Uchis teased a “new era” for her music, characterized by her Latin roots, emphasized by the inclusion of dembow legend El Alfa on the song.

Uchis’ exploration into new genres of Latin music is the focal point of the album. She incorporates aspects of dembow, bachata and balada, among other genres, into her personal style of R&B, creating a fusion of sounds not normally associated with each other. Uchis’ ethereal vocals, signature style and expansive genre mixing work together to create one of the most unique sounding Spanish-language records of the decade.

Showcasing her range, flow and unique creative process, Uchis pays homage to the great Latino musicians that came before her whilst celebrating the progress of the genre with her contemporaries. Collaborating with artists such as Karol G, Rauw Alejandro and Peso Pluma, Uchis demonstrates her ability to play off other leading figures in the Urbano genre without being overshadowed.

The album begins with the track “¿Cómo Así?” Featuring a distinct house sound, the song serves as a brilliant cold open to the rest of the rhythmic heavy production. Funky basslines, along with Uchis’ soft but precise vocal delivery, make this song impossible not to dance along to.

The synth pop sound found in “¿Cómo Así?” follows Uchis through the first third of the album. “Igual Que Un Ángel,” “Diosa” and “Perdiste” stand as some of the most dance pop heavy tracks on the list. Each of these shine on their own, demonstrating how comfortable Uchis became with Latin pop music since the release of “Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios)” over three years ago. “Igual Que Un Ángel” stands out in part due to Peso Pluma’s feature, his flow fitting in perfectly with Uchis’ soft touch, producing a hit likely to make its way to nightclubs around the world.

“Te Mata,” a distinctly bolero track, features Uchis at her vocal peak. An anthem to self-empowerment, Uchis sings about her success and how thriving is the best revenge. She explores themes of heartbreak and romance in the ballad, a prominent feature of bolero music. In this song, she shows off her skills as a singer, delivering powerful vocal runs backed by a passionate percussion section.

“Muñekita,” featuring El Alfa and JT, is the most musically varied song on the record. El Alfa and JT help Uchis speed up her traditionally slow and rhythmic style for a faster paced, more aggressive dembow sound. While being mostly uncharted territory for an R&B artist like Uchis, she takes the challenge with grace delivering energetic bars bouncing off the styles of the featured artists.

The album concludes with the double track “Dame Beso // Muévete.” Uchis finishes the record with a combination of musica tropical and merengue, creating a groovy song that will leave you wanting to get up and dance. The use of traditional trumpets normally found in merengue demonstrates how passionate Uchis was in maintaining the authenticity of the album.

While Kali Uchis is best known for her work in the R&B genre, she proved once again that she can expand her artistry in unexpected ways. Throughout the record she continues to establish herself not just as a singer, but as a genuine creative genius capable of producing unique high-quality releases consecutively with no signs of slowing down. “Orquídeas” continues the work laid by “Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios)” in silencing any doubt that Uchis is capable of being a star in two languages.

Gustavo Atencio Flores can be reached at [email protected]

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  • S

    SantiagoFeb 17, 2024 at 1:13 pm

    Very interesting article! I had never heard of Uchis, but after reading this article, I might as well go check her out.