Queer Dominican-American Singer La C!guapa’s New Track “Popi” Reflects Upon Class and Passport Privelege Against a Dembow Beat

Header photo by Ryan Rivera / Words by Willa Rudolph

Queer multilingual Dominican-American singer La C!guapa’s latest track “Popi” is a dance hall bop that you’ll want in your ears while walking around the city on a hot summer day (like today), and probably shaking ass well into the night. The latin-urban artists’s alter ego is “based on the Taíjno legend of the Ciguapa – a forest creature with backwards feet and a 60 inch bussdown who lures people into the woods.” 

“Popi,” produced by Niles Gamble (talented Jungle enthusiast and producer), is La C!guapa’s first exploration into the latin urban music genre, more specifically dembow. The Brooklyn-based artist references “Rica y Apretadita” by El General. “El General is considered the Father of Reggaeton and Urban Latin Music overall,” she explains to The Deli. 

The latin-influenced pop track embodies La C!guapa’s alter ego with its cocky lyrics and undeniable boss-bitch-ness, luring Popi’s to their doom. “In DR, ‘Popis’ are people from higher socioeconomic classes, usually considered stuck up and snobbish. As an American citizen, I’m often considered to be ‘popi’ when I go back home to the Dominican Republic. I wrote this song when I was reflecting on class and passport privilege and how it relates to my own experience and aspirations,” La C!guapa elaborates. She begins (bold text = english translation), 

“no me jodan (Don’t fuck with me) / si no me pagan (If you’re not paying me) / busque otra priva (Look for someone else) / en charlatana (To play charlatan) / no me da gana (I don’t wanna) / de fuma grabba (Smoke grabba) / 

Mesclo ami weed con la lavanda (I mix my weed with lavender) / dandole ojos a tu novia (I’m making eyes at your girlfriend) / rica y apretadita (she’s yummy and tight) / no te preocupes papi (Don’t worry daddy) / 

graba con la camarita (You can film with the camera) / en cama me llama el general (In bed they call me El General) / 

le deje a su novio quillao (I left your boyfriend annoyed) / a mi me gustan le que tienen dineral (I like girls with money) / 

las que tienen casa que pareca a catedral (Who have houses that look like cathedrals) / Perfumada (perfumed) / y maquillada (and made up) / 

Bien bellaca (real naughty) / siempre está en alta (Always on top) / Princesita con un maldito flow (A princess with a sick ass flow) / quiero una popi mala que baila dembow (I want a bad popi who knows how to dance dembow).”

The legend of Ciguapas has been passed down over centuries, describing a feral woman with extremely long black hair and backwards feet. On one hand Ciguapas are known to be unthreatening but mysterious, hiding from humans out of fear. On the other hand, however, these mythical creatures are known as ravenous, siren-like beings who lure unsuspecting men to their deaths, where they seduce them, their kisses drawing the life force out of their victims while making the victim feel complete ecstasy. Hot. Anywaysss…

Nyles Gamble, also one of La C!guapa’s close friends and collaborators, references jungle music throughout the song. “I find it fascinating how the Dominican diaspora has touched every corner of the globe, with a strong presence in London,” La C!guapa says. “‘Popi’ is, at its core, a love letter to the Dominican Republic and the diaspora at large. It is also a love letter to my local music and club scene. Most of my friends in music are jungle enthusiasts, and you’ll find that a large number of DJs in New York City are also jungle enthusiasts, making their own mark on the genre. My personal favorite thing about ‘Popi’ is the way it blends the sounds of both Santo Domingo and NYC.” As it should!! 

You can listen to more La C!guapa here.  

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