Lazaro Casanova had a busy 2016. He cohosted his weekly Murk Monday party at Coyo Taco while managing the nascent Made in Miami music label alongside South Florida legend Oscar G. Now, Casanova is following up that strong showing with a new, only-in-Miami song.
"La Gloría Cubana" is warm, tropical, ethereal house music at its best and a welcome reminder that the Magic City inspires an endless party. On it, Lazaro reaffirms his commitment to combining the Afro-Cuban rhythms of his ancestry with thumping bass and a modern tempo.
"A lot of things I have done have been 'drummy' to varying degrees, but [my Cuban heritage is] definitely a lot more prominent now. At some point, I did make a conscious choice to embrace my Cuban roots and really just say, 'Fuck it. I'm all in.'"
That decision is welcome. It delivers a distinctive sound in a muddled world of house music. It's also a decision that feels natural to the Miami-bred artist, lighting up the Beatport charts. He now revels in the opportunity to bring the sounds he grew up with to the world.
"La Gloría Cubana" is the latest installment in that give-and-take between traditional Afro-Latino sounds and Lazaro Casanova's unique take on house music. The six-minute track begins ominously with muffled drums and hi-hats building, layer by layer. Midway through, a carefully curated sample adds a level of mystique and spirituality, creating a type of chant or mantra.
"I've worked two ways with samples... I always keep a growing list of songs I've come across with sample ideas. My other way... is just creating a beat first, [and then] I hit YouYube and basically get lost in a time rift on there."
It's a strategy that has worked for Casanova, one that follows him everywhere and helps him find inspiration at every turn.
"I remember the first time I heard Lily Allen's 'Not Fair.' I was at an airport and just randomly heard it in the background... It haunted me for a bit. But I knew from the first time I heard that song, I wanted to grab that vocal and make something with it."
The last minute of the track sees Lazaro come full circle, replacing the song's crescendo with a return to the muffled drums and tribal house rhythm that lay the foundation for "La Gloría Cubana." Put it all together — the drums, the sample, the distinctly Cuban essence — and the Made in Miami release is a thumping, breathing example of what it means to be, well, made in Miami.
If Casanova's 2016 felt like a pivot toward bringing his take on house music closer to his Cuban roots, "La Gloría Cubana" points to a 2017 where pivots have turned into a full-fledged leap into creating the future — with special care taken to include the sounds of the past.
As Donald Trump settles into his new role as president, Lazaro's music feels like a celebration of what truly makes this country what it is: a melting pot where different, disparate cultures come together to create something new and real. Still, regardless of who's in the Oval Office, Lazaro remains steadfast in his beliefs about the musician's role in society.
"Our role will always remain the same regardless of who is president. We are here to provide that moment for a listener to dance, laugh, cry, celebrate, or even mourn... Some of us choose to convey messages in our music, and sometimes that may be a political one, but that's the beauty of what we do. There are no rules," Casanova says.
Then he waxes poetic about the year to come: "I still can't believe I get to wake up every day and this is my job and has been my job for over a decade... It's fucking awesome."
With the continuing growth of his label, petFood, and his collaborative work with Oscar G on the Made in Miami label, the coming year should prove fruitful. Casanova will continue to find inspiration in the world around him — even airports.
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