Cola Boyy, Pop Singer-Songwriter and Activist, Dies at 34

As his music grew in popularity, Urango maintained his work as an activist, imbuing his songs with his politics. “There’s a sort of little extra song at the end of ‘Buggy Tip’ with piano and strings. That part is about my girlfriend, and me saying even though we are in romance, we must remain dedicated to our organizing,” he revealed. “The love we have should extend out and be a part of what fuels us to keep struggling in a revolutionary sense.”

The “organizing” to which Urango alluded included his work with Todo Poder al Pueblo, a leftist collective that, in its own words, fights “for the self-defense and empowerment of our community as a response towards the escalation of repressive measures aimed at migrantes, families and workers.”

Urango’s politics were also informed by the conditions with which he was born: spina bifida, kyphosis, and scoliosis. “Not a lot of artists are visibly disabled,” he once told an interviewer. “Society wants us to stay inside and to be timid and docile, and to not feel confident, or cool, or sexy. They just don’t want us to feel any of that, you know? So, in my life, that often weighed me down, but it didn’t ever stop me, I’ve always been a very outgoing person but still not the most confident, I’m still very critical of myself.”

Urango also lived with a prosthetic leg, and he referenced the experience with the title of his debut Cola Boyy album, 2021’s Prosthetic Boombox. The album followed a notable guest appearance alongside the Clash’s Mick Jones on the Avalanches’ “We Go On.” It also boasted several notable artists, such as the Avalanches, Air’s Nicolas Godin, John Carroll Kirby, and MGMT’s Andrew VanWyngarden.

Artists have shared tributes in honor of the late artist, including Chromeo, Cloud Nothings, Speedy Ortiz, St. Panther, Webbed Wing’s Taylor Madison, and Dead Heat. “We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our friend and collaborator Matthew Urango Cola Boyy,” the Avalanches wrote on X. “Matthew was the most effervescent hilarious talented &passionate guy you could ever meet. He was a man of his convictions and of his word. He will be greatly missed by so many and we send all our love today to his friends and family.”