Friday, September 29, 2006

Pop: Nelly Furtado, Calle 13

We've all heard Promiscuous and Maneater in the clubs, we've all seen the new foxy image Nelly Furtado has adapted. And given her Portuguese roots (and past collaborations with latin artists), I had expected her to do a reggaeton song sooner or later. No Hay Igual was actually the first single of her early 2006 album Loose, but no one really noticed, since the song was quite monotonous and not catchy at all. Now she's issued a remix featuring Residente Calle 13: smart move, because he's one of the better lyricists in the latin rap scene. Combine that with a funky drumbeat, provided by star producer Timbaland, and you almost forget how irritating Nelly sounds on the song. Almost.

I don't think this will become a big club banger too, but hopefully the song will introduce Calle 13 to a new audience!

Nelly Furtado ft. Calle 13 - No Hay Igual mp3 video buy@iTunes

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

New Additions

Hey there faithful reader,

I'd like to explain some recent additions to the site.

First, the grey chart (in the sidebar on your right) shows you the tracks I've been playing on my computer here in Belgium. A click takes you to my listening profile. And if you add your own profile, I can see what my visitors are listening to. La Onda Tropical goes Web 2.0 ;)

Recently two new sites decided to syndicate articles from La Onda Tropical to their own pages: Reggaeton World is the multi-language reference for reggaeton-related information in Europe, and the infamous Blogcritics site is a gigantic database of music, movies, books, entertainment & much more.
And if you want an easily digestable (and accurate) overview of news on Latin America, The Latin Americanist is the blog you need. Be sure to check out these great sites!

At the bottom of each post, you had a link to the comments, and a button to e-mail the post to a friend. Now I've added a section for links to the article from other sites - so you can read what other bloggers think about La Onda Tropical. And if you have a account (another very handy Web 2.0 site), you can add the post to your bookmarks, and tag it.

And lastly: I'm going on holiday next week, so don't expect much posting!

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Monday, September 04, 2006

Reggaeton: Tego Calderon - The Underdog

Tego Calderón is known and loved for his politically correct, 'alternative' reggaeton, often injected with traditional latin music elements. Though he kinda missed the big reggaeton hype, he is still regarded as one of the three strongholds of the genre (along with Daddy Yankee and Don Omar). The Underdog/El Subestimado is his major label debut, so you might expect a more mainstream gangsta sound instead of his typical fusion style. Luckily, that's not the case - Tego even dropped all of his bling bling after visiting a diamond mine in Sierra Leone. No diamonds, a seventies afro, sunglasses two sizes too big.. you wouldn't say this guy just made the only good reggaeton album ever recorded.

The Underdog is the new sound of the latin urban genre, a sound that blends Afro-Carribean influences with some of the hottest beats around. It's hip hop and reggaeton with soul and fuego. Production is near-perfect, everything sounds crystal-clear and basses dig deep. Tego proves himself as the master lyricist, pouring explosive raps on politics, racial issues and personal emotions.

Some examples of the innovating fusion that mark the album. Mardi Gras is what reggaeton would sound like in New Orleans, with a blues guitar backing Tego's raging raps. Llora, Llora is a salsatón duet with Venezolan master Oscar D'León, and (unlike previous salsa-reggaeton collaborations) it's a perfect symbiosis of latin rhythms. Llevatelo Todo is a sunny hip hop song influenced by traditional Puertorican bomba. Don Omar joins in on Chillin', where reggae organs and steel drums take you to a Kingston slum. And Los Maté features a sample of an old mariachi song, pitched up to a slightly irritating speed (too bad this song was chosen to be the first single - watch the video here).

Tego sees himself more as a hiphop artist, but I must disagree. The hiphop cuts on the album lack variety. His smooth flows are best accompanied by a heavy reggaeton beat. Cuando Baila Reggaeton (featuring Yandel) is a certain floorfiller, albeit lacking the specific Tego touch. When the beat kicks in on Extremidades it will make all your extremities randomly shake. Fuego!

The album boasts a few big suprises, mostly related to Tego's emotional side. Chango Blanco is a risky cover: a pure salsa song, talking about racial difficulties and black pride. A succesful experiment if you ask me. Bureo, Bureo is delightfully funky, a bit too short though. O Dios (Odios?) and A Mi Papa are both emotional songs, with Tego respectively rapping about the frustrations of shared custody, and his recently deceased father.

So unlike others, who call themselves King of Kings and release mediocre albums, Tego achieved -in all his modesty- the true mastership over latin urban music with this essential record. Hopefully The Underdog will do for Tego Calderón what A Lo Cubano did for Orishas - give him worldwide exposure and critical acclaim.

Our selection:
Tego Calderón ft. Oscar D'León - Llora, Llora mp3 buy@iTunes
Tego Calderón ft. Don Omar - Chillin' mp3 video lyrics buy@iTunes
Tego Calderón - Llévatelo Todo mp3 buy@iTunes

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Friday, September 01, 2006

Rock: Mana - Amar es Combatir

Maná is often described as Mexico's U2, for the instantly recognizable sound they've crafted througout a career spanning two decades. It's been four years already since they released Revolución de Amor, a widely acclaimed collection of powerful rock ballads, which was not necesarilly an innovative album but had solid songs and captivating lyrics.

So after such a long wait, it's kind of disappointing that Amar es Combatir is more of the same. The songs are certainly well-written, lead singer Fher knows how to use his raspy voice, song structure is solid (as you could hear on "Labios Compartidos", the first single). But on this album, Maná lack something very important: fire, passion, enthousiasm. Musically, it all sounds like a routine.

What I find even more disturbing, is that the lyrics are far from original as well. If I hear the words amor, cielo or corazón one more time I think I'm gonna lose it. Even the much-hyped collaboration with Juan Luís Guerra (Bendita Tu Luz) is a whiny ballad, and has too much religious connotations. On previous albums, Fher wrote true gems like Vivir Sin Aire and El Muelle de San Blas, or powerful political songs like Pobre Juan. I'm not sure if four years from now, we will remeber songs off Amar es Combatir.

There is one track that does stand out: "El Rey Tiburón", a creative fusion of rock and chachacha, playful and exotic. I've always liked Maná's latin-flavored tracks the most (Sabanas Frías, Corazón Espinado featuring Carlos Santana) because their slick mainstream sound combines wonderfully with the tropical rhythms of salsa, mambo and chachacha. The silly chorus ("yo soy el rey tiburón, el que te come a besos") suits the fusion sound perfectly. More songs like this on the next album?

Maná - El Rey Tiburón mp3 lyrics buy@iTunes
Maná - Labios Compartidos mp3 video lyrics buy@iTunes

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