The African Roots of Cumbia: A DJs Black History Lesson


Cumbia is popular style of music which has a unique rhythm that can be heard from the most southern part in Argentina (Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego, also known as “The End of the World” for those wondering), through Mexico, the Caribbean and the United States. This distinguished sound originates in the late 17th century during the slave trade and has a direct African descent. The word Cumbia derives from an African word “Cumbe” which means dance and the short steps performed when dancing to Cumbia are a result of slaves dancing in shackles with limited movement. Although the genre can be specifically traced back to villages along the riverbanks of Colombia’s Rio Magdalena, these villages were occupied by Africans and Indengenious people.

Cumbia’s catchy rhythmic beat has stood the test of time longer than most styles of music and is still evolving today. Artist such as Raymix,  Sofi Reyes and Becky G  have been pushing the sound of Cumbia into the mainstream music markets and have been placing high on both Latin and U.S. charts. The video below gives a great account on the history and spread of Cumbia.

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