5 Dominican Women Claiming Space In Music, Fashion and Women’s Liberation

When rappers such as Milka La Mas Dura, Arianna Puello, and Heidy Brown stepped into the hip-hop en español scene, the world had overgone a series of technological advances that through mediums like YouTube, USB drives, and burnt CD’s, were able to deliver music and necessary content for Dominican Republic’s youth. These lyricists were known for their humorous wordplay, gritty references and sexual agency. They would inspire women all over the island and beyond with their inspiring lyrics.

It would take over a decade for women in Dominican rap and dembow to be seen at a higher rate. The rise of social media and further advances have allowed marginalized communities to be heard and seen more often without the need for cosigns or backing from major labels.

In today’s current globalization of music, Dominican women have used music as a tool for cultural identification and resistance for sexual liberation, equality, and the cultural-specific trends embedded in lower-class neighborhoods known as “barrios.”These trends, aesthetics, diasporic sound women like Tokischa have caught the attention of the entire world through her explicit and raw lyrics.

Their voices have become representative of much larger conversations on race, sexuality, and women’s rights taking place in the country. Currently, the queer community and women’s rights activists are demanding a revision by the Senate of the new criminal code approved by Congress in June. The code fails both to decriminalize and modify its ban on abortion, as well as to protect against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

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Dominican politics is centered on reproductive, gender and sexual issues. Women are more than ever claiming their power, and securing their sexual liberation. Teen Vogue spoke with five women whose music and voices are making waves in the Dominican Republic’s creative scene. They are revolutionary because they exist, and their existence in a patriarchal, religious society and male-dominated industry is political.

Gailen La Moyeta

Teen Vogue: Tell us about your youth and how music relates to it.
Gailen La Moyeta: I recall getting out of school in my uniform, and walking down a few blocks in secrecy to a studio. She didn’t like it. As a Cristian woman, she kept her distance from those things, but I didn’t. I would save money for producers. They would charge me about 50 dollars for production. The first song I wrote was called “Adivina Quien Manda?” (Guess Who’s in Charge?). I listened to Cirujano Novoturno when I was 16. He was an incredible rapper. He was very realistic and I loved him for that. I’ve always been a fan of El Lapiz Conciente, I consider him to be a very prepared intellectual rapper. I was inspired by these two artists to rap.

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