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How this African beat spread through Latin America

It all started in a small village in Colombia.

Cumbia is a staple of Latin American music. Its driving beat can be heard from Argentina to Mexico to the US and beyond. But the musical style’s catchy rhythms can be traced back to one specific area: villages along the riverbanks of Colombia’s Rio Magdalena, where African and indigenous musical elements fused to create a new style of music.

And cumbia keeps evolving. Today, DJs and pop stars are bringing cumbia into the electronic music realm. But no matter how much it evolves, it always comes back to Colombia.

This latest episode of Vox Borders looks at cumbia’s origins. Borders is a series from Vox’s Johnny Harris in which he travels the globe to listen to the people living on the front lines of international relations.

You can find this video and all of Vox’s videos on YouTube. Subscribe for the latest.