Malportado Kids

I never, ever considered the possibility that someday, punk rock and Cumbia would join together in holy matrimony, or that it might even be a success. And then it happened in Providence, Rhode Island.

Malportado Kids is the side project of Victoria Ruiz and Joey L DeFrancesco, who also make noise in bilingual punk outfit Downtown Boys. The pulsating drum machine and chopped-up folk melodies are typical of digital Cumbia, giving the traditional Afro-Colombian genre more of a house feel. But then the pace picks up and Victoria goes full-on Poly Styrene, hounding listeners with resolute chants of resistance. It’s this aggression that makes Malportado Kids’ music an even greater departure from its origins.

Released just yesterday is “SOY LA POCHA,” a rallying cry for the ever-scorned “pochas,” and other Latin@s raised in the United States. It’s an equally cheeky follow-up to “MI CONCHA,” a dance hall anthem for those of us who never quite fit in with white American beauty standards (and ain’t about to try). The latter song opens with a sample from a Malcolm X speech– “Who taught to hate yourself?” he says– and you know instantly this isn’t the kind of thing you hear at your cousin’s quinceañera. I look forward to hearing many more angsty, affirming dance tracks from this duo soon.


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