After months of buzz and colorful, evocative singles unspooling diasporic disillusionment and the burdens of womanhood, Polaris Prize-winning artist Lido Pimienta has finally unleashed her long-awaited third full-length, Miss Colombia. Describing the album as a series of cynical love letters to her native Colombia, the Toronto-based singer-songwriter contrasts her somber emotions with resonant steel drums, fluttering woodwinds and electro-infused rhythms drawing from reggaeton, cumbia and porro, a Colombian folk genre from the Caribbean coast.
The album’s title poignantly refers to the infamous 2016 Miss Universe debacle where host Steve Harvey mistakenly crowned the contestant from Colombia instead of her fellow finalist from the Philippines — and triggered a barrage of racist online vitriol from Colombians worldwide. The incident prompted Pimienta to re-examine her relationship to home, unpacking complex feelings of romanticizing her birthplace and acknowledging the political betrayal experienced by its countless marginalized communities.
Lead singles “No Pude” and “Eso Que Tu Haces” explore this thesis further as breakup songs, wherein Pimienta laments a relationship turned toxic — aiming feelings of heartbreak and disappointment towards her ancestral home, soured by racism, machismo and institutional corruption. With “Nada,” Miss Colombia‘s tremendous third single featuring Bomba Estéreo frontwoman Liliana Saumet, the incandescent friends alchemize generations of oppression and violence into a defiant battle cry for womankind; bearers of moon blood and motherly sacrifice, more afraid of living in patriarchal bondage than facing death. “No le tengo miedo, pues soy mujer y llevo el dolor adentro,” they sing: “I am not afraid, because I am a woman and I carry the pain inside.”
Though the tone of Miss Colombia is cutting throughout, Pimienta exhibits flashes of love and resilience, paying loving tribute to her Afro-Indigenous heritage in songs like “Quiero Que Me Salves” and “Pelo Cucu.” Recorded outdoors in the Colombian town of Palenque — the first “free town” for those who escaped slavery in the Americas — the Prince Nifty co-produced cuts incorporate glowing performances from son palenquero stalwarts Sexteto Tabala and singers from folklorist dance troop Grupo KUMBE. The organic, delightfully earnest tracks blend Miss Colombia‘s avant-Latin sonic palette with revered cross-generational traditions, forging a new world of musical borderlessness that Pimienta is glad to call home.
Miss Colombia is out now via Anti- Records.