Pop singer Miguel has always been very upfront about his Afro-Mexican roots and he took a big step toward exploring those roots musically by way of a new collaboration with Southern California's favorite Latin funk outifit, Chicano Batman.
The pairing is the product of an innovative video series called TÚGETHER produced by the Latinx culture warriors at the online video channel Mitú. The collaboration is a match made in heaven: Miguel unleashes the impressive soul chops that made him a pop star on the Chicano Batman original "Black Lipstick," then the boys back him on his own song "Sky Walker."
The result is a fascinating exploration of the art of collaboration. On "Black Lipstick," Bardo Martinez's familiar falsetto is replaced by Miguel's instantly recognizable tenor on the tragic tale of lost love. Chicano Batman's keyboard-driven slow groove actually sounds like it was made for a Miguel cut.
Miguel's "Sky Walker" is neo-soul featuring hip-hop star Travis Scott, but it becomes imbued with an electronic pulse and Spanglish lyrics in the hands of Chicano Batman. By stripping away the beat, Miguel explores the deeper soul inflections of the song, while the band supplies its trademark retro electric organ sound to couch the steamy lyrics in a perfect combination of styles.
It takes a leap of faith to do these kinds of collaborations. So many things could go wrong, or the music may not reflect the original good idea. That is definitely not the case with these two tracks. The work seems to have allowed each act to reexamine their own music to find common ground in their Latin music influences.