Maria Isa

Born and raised in the Twin Cities to NuyoRican parents, emcee, singer, and songwriter Maria Isa is recognized for her dedication towards celebrating her cultural diversity through music and political activism. Read more about Maria Isa.

Maria Isa is also profiled in a Twin Cities Public Television's mn original production. View the video.

Day 4 of Shooting "Strike One" and Remembering Tupac Shakur in a Los Angeles Session.

Posted by: Maria Isa Updated: June 17, 2011 - 3:33 AM

 Okay after this note....I need to sleep! By 530am today I was ready for Day 4 of shooting Strike One.  The Crew is shooting inside a Correctional Facility outside of East LA for the next 2 days. Lets just say things ran smoothly, but it was crazy! Intense, inspirational and very emotional!  

While I checked my Twitter updates today and noticed many Tweets stating "Happy 40th Birthday #TUPAC SHAKUR," I flashed back and once again came into the realization of how much the radio lacks the truth, along with the many missing chapters and ignorance of Latino and African history in our Youth's textbook. I was blessed to have a family who educated both me and my brother about cultural values; why it's always important to remember our history and continue to learn more about it, because we live in a society where it's still being ignored....or worse ERASED.

Through a recent personal study with students and/or teen family members; I wanted to see how many freshman - senior high school students knew who NWA were, when the LA Riots happened and who Rodney King is?  I was left to see the number of correct answers in shock. Majority of those students don't recall ever hearing about it, but are fans of HIP-HOP. 

I walked around the prison feeling frustrated; with in an out of body experience as if the walls and cells held onto stories for decades explaining the memoirs of so many of young men and women of the barrios; those lost or trapped youth who are push into circles without taking a look outside of the bubble.  Not noticing the realization of how many prisons are in America, how much money is spent on each prisoner and facility or the statistics of "who" is being incarcerated. Once again I begin to revisit the feeling of my heart sinking into my stomach, because this story is to common in communities of color; and I believe the lack of education and disrespect towards our movement's history is a cause of why for every 1 white male, there's 10 men of color being sent off to jail. 10 men of color for every 1 white male, to join an overpopulated prison facility. 

  With that I would like to state and remember the influence of one of the greatest MCs of all time.  I grew up a fan of Tupac Shakur, as he was not only an iconic figure in hip-hop for representing the values and purpose of the Black Panther movement, but a phenomenal performing artist...a great actor who broke down barriers and like every great legend battled many wars.  

 One of my first encounters with Tupac was when he played "Bishop," the inner-city teenaged villain prioritizing power and respect with money and violence in the classic 1992 film "Juice."

I thank my brother Harrel (aka RayRay) for introducing me to one of my top favorite movies of all time. At the same time turning me into a young fan, (yes a very young but very wise fan) who began a journey and childhood crush for the strong poetic black man who happened to inspire me through both his life and death to dedicate and focus on bridging our communities through Hip Hop Activism and lyricism.  Just as the Young Lords took over hospitals to give health aid to Latinos in New York City and the Black Panthers developed breakfast and after school programs for Black youth, Tupac shared and gave us his story along with influencing writers to just speak up and take the freedom of speech to your best advantage. 

  Mr. Shakur, hope you're living it up in Thug Mansion, and I just want to tell you that you were an amazing story teller, poet, MC and activist.  You always had a come back and left a gift forever shining a light on the movement of a genre that wishes you wouldn't have been taken from this world so soon.  Thank you for not being ashamed to explain your story as a product of your environment.    

Today I celebrated your life by recording a new song in honor of your love and passion for California, along with the many different characters I sat with today who showed me love and respect for Tupac and west coast hip hop.

"And since we all came from a WOMAN got our name from a WOMAN and our game from a WOMAN. I wonder why we take from our WOMEN why we rape our WOMEN do we hate our WOMEN. I think its' time to kill for our WOMEN time to heal our WOMEN be real to our WOMEN."


                                                                         - (2Pac's Greatest Hits, Strictly 4 MY N.I.G.G.A.Z. - Keep Ya Head Up)


Here's a lil something from the piece I wrote today during another CALI Break Session inspired by

Mr. Tupac Shakur

June 16, 1971-Sept. 13th, 1996


Hollywood Playground 


"..Prrrat Prrrat Prrat! signs of the cross when I hear the guns snap

Prrat prrat prrat! but the beam from the sun's probably why Mr. Jam moved from Minneap

Prrat prrat prrat! Had to tell Lebron sorry Papi but Kobe has the stats ;(

Prrat prrat prrat Made In Cali made a track

 Rest in Peace Tupac....he aint back! Just respect that

by supporting movements for the brown and black

walking stars, love to NWA Raiders on the hat 

Shout out to Gov Arnold, with Latin kids on his lap"

The Ritmos of Malamanya Will Get'cha...You Bet'cha!

Posted by: Maria Isa Updated: November 12, 2010 - 12:00 AM


Malamanya performing at Hell's Kitchen. (Photo courtesy of Malamanya)

Malamanya performing at Hell's Kitchen. (Photo courtesy of Malamanya)




I sat down a few weeks ago with Malamanya, the latest salsa y rumba band in the Twin Cities at their cozy South Minneapolis' "Brownbag Studios." Getting to know a little more about a band who proves that using spoons as drumsticks, while banging on pots in pans in your Abuelitas kitchen is still something to be proud of.

Malamanya is made up of all acoustic instruments, grouped by local musicians percussionist Luis Alvaro Ortega- Castrellon and Jesse Marks; Tony Schreiner on up-right bass, Trevor May on the "Tres" and flamenco guitar; Jason Marks on trumpet and the lovely vocals by the beautiful Latina mujerona essence Adrianna Rimpel.
This corrillo brings so much sabor and heat that they make the Nomad World Pub feel like a jam session with the Buena Vista Social Club.  They can turn the Driftwood Bar dance floor into an El Barrio block party within minutes of playing, while striking listeners to continue on their night with a Fania after party.
Each member of Malamanya targets a bulls eye by resurrecting the spirits of Celia Cruz, Ramito and Joe Cuba;  while keeping Willie Colon's, Yomo Toro's and Johnny Pacheco's alive.
Schreiner takes leadership as the "conjuntos" musical director.  He came together with the vision of forming a group after being inspired by the "Negocios Lindos" mixtape. An album which features a variety of Fania composers such as Colon, el cantante Hector Lavoe, and Johnny Pacheco.  After hearing the NYC, DJ Fred Schmaltz compilation, he grew an obsession with Latin Music of the 1960s and 70s era.

"I played it as much as I could," explained Tony. "And eventually met up with Luis a year ago while he was playing for a SotaRico event."  Luis expressed his same excitement to Tony for the music which raised and inspired him.

"We started building the band from that momentum," recalled Luis Ortega-Castrellon who is of Panamanian and Puerto Rican decent.
"and through mutual friends, we were introduced to everyone else in the band. It came together like a domino effect, and we all get along great which is also a cool thing," vibes Luis, with a classic smile expressing his chill and one love vibe.

"Organically were heading to making our own original takes and making it work," stated Tony.



Adrianna Rimpel's soothing voice leaves you smiling back.

Adrianna Rimpel's soothing voice leaves you smiling back.


I was a fan from the moment I heard Adrianna Rimpel sing her first note, accompanied by the traditional strings played by Trevor May and Jason Marks on trumpet.  Adrianna's voice brings me back to the empowerment of women, when the rise of the Latina Soul was dominated by the sounds of la reinas Celia Cruz and La Lupe in Latin Music; but more toned down and settled to a mix of "Viva Chango's" Celina Gonzalez with a drip of Bonny Rae.  May's passionate playing will buzz you like a fine Shiraz, while making your heart pump faster to express life's "amor y pena." Jason Marks' trumpet nurtures you like an Arturo Sandoval stew sprinkled with Willie Colon's sazon.  Every member highlight each others performance. Luis' smooth Ray Barretto-ish hits and Ruben Blades vocal-swag, plays a key role parrelled with Tony's "cool-kat" swing on his amazing bass playing.  I admit my favorite part of their show is Malamanya's energy to get the crowd to participate in the mostly traditional, call and response cantos.  It placed me back to a child being raised by grandparents who played records, while cooking; singing about migrating, cross- culture living, struggle, faith and love with pride of being "jibarros," no matter where life placed them in the world.

"In every show we want to express, take our positive vibe to our fullest advantage, by creating a force to have all people relax, live, dance and have a fun time during this hectic stage in the economy," explained Trevor. "And continue to learn more, create more! Malamanya will learn our next path once we do it."

Tony Schreiner follows up, stating the mission of their music and performance is "to Preserve and inspire."

"Drink dance and..," Smiles Tony, "well you know," pauses as he drops the F-bomb.
We all laughed as Adrianna followed Tony's statement with
"okay lets just calm down now."

Along with having a good time, MalaManya also dedicates their sound towards bridging their support towards hope. Percussionist Jesse Marks is co-organizing their next gig at the XY and Z Gallery, which is a fundraiser to assist a child friend in Peru who underwent a life-threatening surgery. All proceeds of the event will be donated to help assist his medical treatments and expenses.

I look forward to dancing my night away soon to Malamanya's music and encourage you to keep warm with their ritmo.

Catch their show out on Friday November 12,  at the XY and Z Gallery, 9pm-2am with Dj Turtleneck

Check out their Youtube live performance at downtown Minneapolis' Hell's Kitchen

Join their music-fan page



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