Interview: Carlos Santana Likens Pitbull Collab to Nelson Mandela, Talks Original Lineup Reunion

"Nelson Mandela freed a country, a nation. We free minds from being twisted."

By Brian Ives 

It’s easy to be cynical about the things that Carlos Santana says in an interview. His earnestness may not quite translate when reading a transcription of his comments. However, if you are fortunate enough to meet the man, and hear him speak, he makes a bit more sense. At the very least, if you disagree with Santana on a point, you can at least accept that he really means what he says, whether that point is that a Santana/Pitbull collab could have an impact equal to Nelson Mandela’s many achievements, or that the right music can encourage soccer hooligans to behave themselves.

In a brief interview, he spoke about Corazon, his new collaboration-heavy album, as well as “Dar um Jeito (We Will Find A Way)”, a collaboration with Wyclef Jean, Avicii and Alexandre Pires, which is the official theme song of 2014 FIFA World Cup.

And, if you’re more of an old-school fan, you’ll be glad to know that he’s also working on a reunion of the original Santana.

~ Is your new album CorazonSupernatural  for a new generation? 
Carlos Santana: I think Lauryn Hill said that Supernatural was a conscious decision to invite people to create a masterpiece of joy in their own lives. This one is conscious decision to invite people to claim something that they’d never lost. There’s a lot of people who walk around not being happy unless they’re miserable. And they wear it like a badge of honor. So this album is a great opportunity for us to invite people to “update your software.”


On “Oye 2014”, Pitbull raps, “It’s Carlos Santana and Pit/ We makin’ history baby/ like Nelson Mandela did.” Is that recording really comparable to the legacy of Nelson Mandela? 
I absolutely identify with what he said! Nelson Mandela freed a country, a nation. We free minds from being twisted. Most people are not happy unless they’re miserable and they wear it like a badge of honor. “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery!” He’s not bragging! Nelson Mandela, Pancho Villa, the Pope, all these people that we love: they’re not the only people who can make a difference in the world! There’s a lot of people who don’t have a name in history, but they’re making history right now. “One positive thought creates millions of positive vibrations,” John Coltrane.

It is possible to be [like] Nelson Mandela and Malcolm X and Spartacus and Pancho Villa and Geronimo. I don’t squirm when he says, “Like Nelson Mandela, we’re gonna make history!” That’s right! I don’t squirm with that, I don’t have a problem with that. Cause [Mandela] does it in a political sense, we do it with a spiritual revolution. I’ve been doing this since ’67 with the hippies!


You’ve collaborated with Wyclef Jean, Avicii and Alexandre Pires on this year’s official World Cup theme song, “Dar um Jeito (We Will Find A Way)”…
I do identify with the World Cup as being a world victory. A world unity celebration. And I have invited the main persons in charge to do two things. One is, invest some of that money from watches and beer into the favelas, into schools. Same thing with Donald Sterling! Take some of your money and do what Andre Agassi did with the schools.

Two: let’s play some music by Marvin Gaye, Bob Marley, John Lennon when people are walking in to see this event. Because you still have a lot of racism! Not only in basketball, but in the World Cup. People still throw bananas on the soccer field when black people are playing. But if you put the right music in elevators and parking lots and the event itself, music that says “Imagine” and “One Love,” the people will start to say “Oh!” Now you can root for excellence, not just your team! So, I’m trying to elevate constantly the consciousness of humans, so we’re able to dismantle hate and fear. That is our only enemy! And you don’t conquer it with weapons — Pentagon! — that’s really expensive. You conquer it with consciousness, love and light. Those are my weapons.

You’re also working on a reunion album with the original members of Santana, and according to news reports, you’re also using percussionist Marcus “The Magnificent” Malone [who was jailed for manslaughter in 1969, and who had been homeless before his fortunes changed at the end of last year]. 
We did nine songs so far with Gregg Rolie, Micahel Shrieve, Michael Carabello and now Neal Schon [of Journey]. And I do plan on bringing Marcus to one or two songs. I believe in redemption. I believe that humans should get a second chance. I don’t believe in sin, but I do believe in errors that can be corrected and mended and transformed. I didn’t make a shallow, hollow promise, I will give Marcus ‘The Magnificent’ Malone the opportunity to play congas on a couple of songs.


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