I love cross language/culture/border/genre collaborations – it is at the edge of genres that great creativity happens. A perfect example came across my desk this week, a collaboration between Chicago native crooner Matt LeGrand and the Venezuelan rap star Mestiza who have teamed up on “ I’ve Been Watching You”. The song is a steamy R&B love ballad with rap conversations punctuating Legrand’s smooth seduction. The combination is electric, delivering 4 minutes and 38 seconds of romance in Spanish and English that moves with a slow hand and electric spark through your ears.
The combination – the first single from LeGrand’s EP release this week – works well on several levels. LeGrand teamed up with music industry pros Dave Hall (Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, and Madonna) and Bryant Reid (Usher, Toni Braxton and more) to produce a deftly layered work. The production seamlessly combines LeGrand’s slick style with Mestiza’s sexy Latin voice and sultry flavor.
Mestiza, aka The Barbie Trapper, began with hip hop in 2004 when she was just 10 years old, developed her freestyle rap until she was seen as one of Venezuela’s best upcoming MC’s just 6 years later. She has released several successful songs and toured Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, and Panama, becoming a regional favorite. She is currently in the United States developing her artistic career while collaborating with urban genre artists such as Ñengo flow, Melymel, Darkiel, J Alvarez, Jamby El Favo, Maldy and Matt LeGrand.
LeGrand was born in Chicago, spending his infant years in France. He grew up exploring multiple instruments, including guitar and drums and songwriting in different styles of music. Producer and talent developer Bryant Reid started working with LeGrand in 2015 and subsequently he released his first single “12:00 AM”, followed by his early 2019 hit “All Good.”
“I’ve Been Watching You” has taken off – released just 9 weeks ago, the track already picked up over 73,000 Spotify streams, giving him a total of almost 300K streams on all platforms, and seeing a 1000 streams a day. The official video, now on YouTube is beautifully produced by MXM Entertainment but is a little disappointing in that Mestiza seems to have been put in it more for her sexy body than her considerable musical talent. But her music comes through where it counts, on the song.
Patrick O’Heffernan is co-host of the LA-based, nationally syndicated weekly program, Music FridayLive! and is a music reviewer for online magazines Vents, The Hollywood Progressive and MusicJunkie. He has also co-hosted a national political talk show, The Fairness Doctrine, and hosted the “Uplinks” media segment on Saturday All Things Considered on NPR. He holds a PhD in International Relations from MIT, has been awarded an Emmy, four Addy’s, and a Webby-Honors, among other awards. He has published 5 books and ghost-written others. A project he co-launched, the North Asia Nuclear Free Zone, was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. He serves on the Board of Netroots Nation.