Thursday, April 26, 2007

Reggaeton/Hip Hop: Calle 13 - Residente o Visitante

Calle 13 - Residente o Visitante - Alternative Reggaeton Hip Hop Hiphop Latin Urban Humor Satire Lyrics Intelligent Beats Tango Del Pecado Orishas Tego Calderon Vicentico Mala Rodriguez
Their self-titled debut launched them as one of the smartest and most innovative acts in reggaeton. Merely 14 months later, Calle 13 is back with Residente o Visitante, the Puertorican rappers' sophomore album. We told you already how eagerly anticipated the release was, and now we can safely say: it was worth it.

Rapper Residente (René Perez) has found his style in clever, satirical lyrics, and they're the first thing you'll notice on the album. He will make you laugh with his witty wordplay, and even if you don't understand Spanish you must feel the playfulness of his texts. DJ Visitante (Eduardo Cabra) still provides the most innovative beats in latin urban music, experimenting with sounds from all across Latin America ("Tango del Pecado", "La Cumbia de los Aburridos"). But on this album, Calle 13 sounds more mature - sometimes they'll even move you ("Llegale a mi Guarida", "Beso de Desayuno") or incite you to start thinking ("Pal Norte", "Algo Con-Sentido", "La Era de la Copiaera").

Residente o Visitante has an impressive guest list: Tego Calderón (our other favorite reggaetonero) joins in on "Sin Exagerar", clearly having the time of his life while Residente makes fun of hiphop-style bragging:

Tengo cuatrocientos carros, cuatrocientas motoras
Un caballo que vuela a cien milas por hora
Tengo comprada a todas las emisoras
Y pa' lavar el dinero, treinta lavadoras
Yo consigo lo que sea
Mujeres con dos, tres, cuatro, cinco tetas

On "Llegale a mi Guarida", the characterful voice of Vincentico (former lead singer of ska band Los Fabulosos Cadillacs) gives the song a serene feel, like an indigenous ritual dance. A greasy rock riff spices things up a little. And "Pal Norte" features the distinctly Cuban voices of Orishas. It's a socially conscious song on migration, a key theme on the album - the title, Residente o Visitante, not only refers to the two half-brothers' pseudonyms, but also to the status of latino immigrants in the USA).

Language is another key issue on the album: you'll find both poetical ballads and shocking profanities. The "Intro", for example, starts by saying "We promise you no bad words on this record", followed by an endless litany of Spanish swearing, performed by a church choir. Excuse me if I find this hilarious - kinda reminds me of what Molotov used to do.
On the other hand, in "Mala Suerte con el 13", misplaced profanity gives a rancid taste to what could have been an intimate hiphop song with a great guest rapera (La Mala Rodriguez).
Both the religious and the language themes come back in bomb single "Tango del Pecado", but you've already read all about that song here ;)

About halfway through the album, Calle 13 changes the pace for some more mature and serious songs: aforementioned "Llegale a mi Guarida" is calm and hypnotizing, and on "Beso de Desayuno" Residente proves he can write a beautiful ballad with imaginative lyrics. Visitante puts a wicked bossa nova/drum 'n bass sample under it - and it magically works.
More wicked samples, courtesy of Visitante and Oscar-winning producer Gustavo Santaolalla: "Algo Con-Sentido" is a 50's ballad disguised as hiphop, and "La Era De La Copiaera" sounds like a video game gone crazy. Both songs share the same subject: there's too much copying and fakery in latin urban music these days. When Residente -literally gone mad- starts shooting everybody in sight, "Con-Sentido" ends with "Don't worry, this is fake - just like most reggaetoneros. OK?".

The absurdity does get irritating sometimes: "Uiyi Guaye" has a horrible chorus (though beatwise this is still prime material) and "El Avión Se Cae" is a bad B-side, at the most. But as a whole Residente o Visitante is even more impressive as their debut: Calle 13 have matured. Visitante confirms as a key innovator in latin urban music, Residente proves his splendid lyrical skill and sharp sense of humor. You'll discover some real gems ("Tango del Pecado", "Sin Exagerar", "Pal Norte", "La Crema"), but really the album needs to be savored as a whole to appreciate all the irony and deeper meanings. I wish Calle 13 a great future, and a dozen more Latin Grammy's.

Calle 13 ft. Orishas - Pal Norte mp3 buy@iTunes buy@Amazon
Calle 13 ft. Tego Calderon - Sin Exagerar mp3 buy@iTunes buy@Amazon


*guillaume* said...

You guys are doing a great job! Spent an hour yesterday on the blog.

You should check

jace said...

great post! Sin Exagerar is amazing lyrically, love to hear hiphop tropes bent & exploded.

Joris de Tilburg ;) said...

The song with las Orishas is tremendo. Calle 13 is a great grupo, good thing you write about them!

Chapín said...

Thanks for your comments.
Guillaume & Jace -> Great websites you've got there. Wanna exchange links?

Manuel said...

This whole album is excellent. If your from PR "La Crema" speaks to you, its amazing. I'm actually from the same calle 13 in Trujillo Alto, unfortunately I never met Rene but its still kind of cool that he is from the same place. If you notice, at the end of the song he gives a shout out to "El Conqui" which is short for "El Conquistador" the "urbanizacion" where calle 13 is located at...

By the way, love the site/blog, I needed more exposure to other types of Latin music, Ojos de Brujo is excellent(among other stuff you have featured). Thanks!!

Chapín said...

That's really cool that you lived in the same street. I'm from an average Belgian suburb and "La Crema" speaks to me too! ;) Calle 13 is truly universal :)

Ali said...


Just bought the album off itunes on the stregnth of your blog and a big love of the Fabulosos Cadillacs..

Writing from London - loving your blog as a window to the latin music i am missing from time in Argentina.

Keep it up - i read regularly.


Chapín said...

Hi Ali, thanks for your comment, I hope you enjoy the album!

Deep-one said...

Ways better than all this mass-produced reggaeton by the likes of Daddy Yankee. Got it after several listens though.

Brant Lee said...

you guys definately put some serious effort into this blog! thanks...I just started a latin blog myself...come check me out...

Brant Lee said...

Chapín said...

Your blog looks very promising! I'll keep an eye on it ;)

(Sometimes I wish I started on WordPress... damn Blogger.)

Axel said...

Nice Blog, please keep the updates. Calle 13 definitively is considered one of the Top 10 in the Reggaeton Music Industry. Everyone is waiting to see what's coming next with this Puerto Rican talent.

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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