interview: afro-colombian duo profetas trail-blaze with unique sound while giving back to their community

April 5, 2018
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By Shahida Muhammad*, AFROPUNK contributor

Just as their name would imply, Afro-Colombian duo Profetas say they envisioned their success way before it began to manifest. Pablo Fortaleza and Antombo Langangui started making music as youth and now have over 15 years in the music game, with their infectious blend of hip hop, reggae, and afro-latino sounds. As the vocalist of the group, Antombo’s uniquely sultry tone breezes beautifully through tracks and lyricist Pablo’s robust voice brings rhythmic word-play. The two captivate listeners with a mix of tropical love songs and catchy dance tracks as well as tackling heavier themes such as inner-city violence and sex tourism. Having already toured around the world off the success of “Amor y Fortaleza” (2006) and “Baila” (2011), Profetas performed at both SXSW and the Glastonbury festival in 2015 –one of only three Colombian artist to be invited to the UK festival up until then and the first Afro-Colombian group to participate. The dynamic duo recently set the bar even higher after being invited to first Selina Music Summit in Medellín, Colombia in March.

In all that they’ve accomplished, the group makes it a point to give back with their yearly Afro-Bomm festival which allows up-and-coming Afro-Colombian artists a platform to showcase their music. And now with singles such as “Chocolate” and “Me Gustas” from their latest album “Tiempo” climbing charts and garnering acclaim, we caught up with the group to find out more about their musical inspiration, community work, and what they have in store next.

Photo courtesy of the artist

AFROPUNK: Your latest album “Tiempo” has been the most successful thus far – how so?

“Tiempo” is an album that has received very good reviews from the media and fans. It is the first Profetas album that has more than three singles in commercial radio at a national level. Normally our music would be played in cultural and college radio, but with this album the group has received the attention of the mainstream stations around the country. The album includes work from from three great latino producers: Latin-grammy award winners Juan Pablo Vega and Juancho Valencia, as well as David King.

AFROPUNK: Are you currently working on any other projects?

We are working on many projects. We have an upcoming tour of Brazil, and we are collaborating with artists from that country. We also just finished the video for the song “La Lluvia” which is on the soundtrack of the Afro-Colombian movie “Somos Caliente”.

AFROPUNK: Your music is a fusion of reggae, hip hop, and Afro-Colombian sounds. Which artists have influenced you?

Profetas have different influences, from the Hip Hop of the 90s in New York, the Classical Salsa of the 70s (Pablo comes from a family of great singers and salsa musicians like Piper Pepper Diaz and Samuel Diaz), the Music of the Pacific Colombian coast, the sounds of the Caribbean, reggae, champea, cumbia, and African music (Antombo was born in Bangui Rep African Center, and her mother is Colombian).

Photo courtesy of the artist

AFROPUNK: What is the story behind the name Profetas? Do you feel that you have a specific message or mission that you want to share with your music?

Profetas is the name we gave our band 17 years ago when we dreamed that our songs were prophecies about our own lives. We sang about dreams that we have made reality today, as we are one of the most successful Colombian groups. We always believed in our projects, no matter how much sacrifice and time it would take to get it.

AFROPUNK: Please tell us a little about the AfroBomm festival that will take place in September?

We are preparing AfroBomm 2018; it is a showcase within the framework of the Bogota Music Market for new Afro-Colombian artists. We use our contacts in the industry to contribute to our people in the Caribbean and Pacific [regions]. This is the sixth edition of the event, which includes panels, conferences, and concerts.

AFROPUNK: Why do you think it is important to give a platform to new Afro-Colombian artist with your festival?

AfroBomm is the only unique space that exists in Colombia for Afro-Colombian musicians of all genres and styles. It is designed to showcase black music and its performers. We invite businessmen from all over the world, along with the Bogota Music Market which is the most relevant music market in Colombia. We count on their support, as well as that of international cooperation entities such as OIM. AfroBomm started as an event produced with our own money, but now besides our resources, we look for outside support too.

AFROPUNK: You have been making music for over 15 years. Did you always know that you wanted to be artists?

Yes, we always wanted to be music stars but also social leaders that contribute to their communities as well.

AFROPUNK: Is there anything else people should know about your group and your music?

Profetas have been touring the world for 17 years. We started as children and we hope to continue releasing records and doing concerts for many more years.

*Shahida Muhammad is a culture and lifestyle writer currently living abroad in Colombia. Follow
her on Twitter @ShahidaSade.