New York's East Harlem, where Spanish Harlem is located
However, Myrna, a former co-worker who comes directly from Puerto Rico emphasized to me strongly with a pointed finger that I sound more like a “Nuyorican,” that is, a New York Puerto Rican. I was in a recent phone conversation with Jenny, an old college classmate from New York's Lower East Side who herself happens to be Nuyorican. After she heard a bit of my Spanish, she too told me that I sound just like somebody from uptown. In New York City lingo, that means that I sound like someone from Harlem; more specifically, Spanish Harlem. She was right on point because I grew up on the border line of East and West Harlem, and walking distance from Spanish Harlem, which at that time contained a huge Puerto Rican population.
In elementary school, I used to hang out at my best friend's house, Carlos, also a Nuyorican, where every day I would practice my Spanish with his family. His mother even invited me to her church in Spanish Harlem so I can be around more Spanish-speakers. At the age of 16, I started getting into Latin music, specifically the commercialized Latin Soul Music by musicians such as Joe Cuba, Pete Rodriguez, and Joe Bataan, and eventually got into deeper Latin music with such artists as Ray Barretto, Eddie Palmieri, and Willie Colón of whom all, with the exception of Joe Bataan, are Nuyoricans. Joe Bataan himself is half Filipino and half African-American, but grew up in New York's Spanish Harlem.
A Taste of Latin Soul
by Pete Rodriguez
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