La Goony Chonga Does Whatever She Wants

La Goony Chonga Does Whatever She Wants

Story by Jhoni Jackson / Photography by Hadriel Gonzalez / Styling by Cody Allen / Makeup by Jessica Monzalvo / Hair by Mary Lee

There are some Spanish words whose meanings are pretty identifiable to English-only folks: Descontrol, the title of La Goony Chonga's new EP, is one. But it can still be easily misconstrued. The 29-year-old Miami-born Cuban artist isn't referring to going wild — not totally, at least. It's more about being unabashedly yourself. To put it bluntly: you cannot tell La Goony Chonga who to be or what to do.

It's appropriate then that she dedicates this latest collection to the golden era of reggaeton in the '90s and early 2000s. Trailblazers Daddy Yankee and Nicky Jam have both cut their own hits titled "Descontrol," La Goony Chonga notes. Back then, Ivy Queen, a major idol for La Goony Chonga, reigned as the genre's pioneering female artist. Meanwhile, politicians and religious entities in Puerto Rico, the movement's mecca, hated all of it — but despite racist and classist attempts to criminalize this music in its earliest days via raids of public housing complexes and record stores, these artists and their fans persevered. They could not be stopped.

Shoes: Maya of Hollywood, Dress and sleeves: Laurel Dewitt

The whole EP recalls that era, but on the title track especially, two homages to iconic tracks are easy to spot for reggaeton fans, even if they can't specify exactly which bit of nostalgia the melody is in reference to. "Some people love it and they don't know why, and it's because it's literally that," La Goony Chonga tells PAPER.

But the songs weren't sampled, she stresses. Featured artist Maxine and La Goony Chonga worked together to alter the flow to fit its clubby beat: "The song changed like three times before we ever finished it."

La Goony Chonga is well into her career at this point. She debuted in 2012 under a different moniker: her Tumblr name, Twiggy Rasta Masta, a combo originating from her high school nickname and all the weed she was smoking at the time. Her first song on YouTube was actually a freestyle, and a lot of people didn't believe it was authentic. "I was really freestyling, and people were like, this is not a freestyle, she wrote this shit. Like, why is she lying? And then that kind of motivated me," she says. "I was like, oh, shit, it must be good, because people don't even believe me that I was freestyling!"

Shoes: Pleaser, Earrings, headpiece and body harness: Laurel Dewitt

Today, she's even earned the approval of Ivy Queen. La Goony Chonga paid her respects after opening for the legend at a festival a few years back, and was repaid with thanks and a blessing to her son, too. "I have a picture of her giving my son a kiss on the hand," she laughs.

Ivy gave Goony's "Duro 2005" track a positive react in a Genius video, too: "She's a 'I don't give a fuck girl,' which I love," la Reina del Reggaeton said in the clip. "Because you have to have that in you."

Most definitely La Goony Chonga has that. Her musical style shifts between trap and hip-hop and reggaeton, blending into something that's really all her own. She's simultaneously tough (AKA dura) and overtly femme. In her lyrics sexual agency and a demand of respect notwithstanding exist together, as they should. Her existence is a punch to the patriarchy.

Corset and metal claws: Lory Sun, Earrings: Laurel Dewitt

Her heritage, too, is a huge part of her artistry. Chonga is a Miami-centric subculture that's akin to West Coast Chola culture, but more feminine, she says.

"It's Latina, mostly like Cuban and Caribbean. It's almost camp. Like fast fashion, but a little bit tacky and the similar things of a chola: The lip liner, the hoops, the baby hairs, you know? I don't ever know how to just explain it because it's a range of things, being a chonga. It's like an attitude, a lifestyle."

In fact, a lot of people are conveying chonga aesthetics without even realizing it.

Shoes: Maya of Hollywood, Dress and sleeves: Laurel Dewitt

"Now all that Y2K shit is coming back, there's all these things that, to me, are chonga, but people may not call it that," she says. "I mean it's coming back but people just don't identify with the word as much."

Being a chonga has been the butt of jokes too, like in the Chonga Girls' 2007 viral "Chongalicious" parody and subsequent YouTube sketches.

Shoes: Pleaser, Earrings, headpiece and body harness: Laurel Dewitt

None of it offends La Goony Chonga, though. She thought the video was funny. And insults? "I'm making chonga acceptable," she laughs. "People love it."

During the pandemic, while she was still living in LA — she's since moved home to Miami — she debuted her own YouTube series centered on the culture she's been a part of since she was a preteen. In Chongafied, guests get chonga makeovers. Kreayshawn and Uffie have gotten the chonga treatment, as well as La Goony Chonga's DJ, Xtranjera and Maxine Ashley, her co-conspirator on "Descontrol" and another of the EP's tracks, "Pa Mi."

Corset and metal claws: Lory Sun, Earrings: Laurel Dewitt

"Some people, if somebody called you a chonga, they would think it was insulting, like calling you ratchet," she says with a laugh.

But La Goony Chonga isn't about to bend at anyone's behest. She does what she wants. "I love being a chonga," she says. "And I don't give a fuck."

Stream Descontrol by La Goony Chonga, below.

Photography and production: Hadriel Gonzalez
Styling: Cody Allen
Makeup: Jessica Monzalvo
Hair: Mary Lee

Production assistant: Matthew Ramlochan


Coolest Person in the Room: Hannah Traore

Story by Andrew Nguyen / Photography by Diego Villagra Motta / Styling by Angelina Cantú