Alynda Mariposa Segarra -- the mastermind behind Hurray For the Riff Raff -- describes herself as someone “whose home is many places.” Puerto Rico is one of them, ancestrally: The singer-songwriter grew up in the Bronx, but the roots of her family tree unfurl in the island’s soil, as both of her parents hail from its southern coast.
Segarra’s exploration of her identity intensified after she left her home and eventually settled in New Orleans (and later Nashville), and this process -- the spiritual journey of a soul-mining nomad -- inspired her 2017 concept album, The Navigator. The record explores Segarra’s place in the Puerto Rican diaspora, and it frequently throws to the familiar sounds of her childhood: Spanish conversation, street traffic and subway cars.
One track off The Navigator took on a new, urgent strength under the trickle-down xenophobia championed by the Trump administration. “Pa’lante,” inspired by the inclusive radical ethos and rallying cry of ‘70s Puerto Rican activists the Young Lords, is a tribute to the disenfranchised. Its lyrics speak in particular to the dehumanizing effects of colonization, which Puerto Ricans and the Latinx population at large have been subject to under Trump’s wall-championing agenda and the neglect his administration has shown Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria devastated the island in 2017.