Sunday, October 19, 2008

Calle 13 - Los De Atrás Vienen Conmigo

Calle 13 New Album Los De Atras Vienen Conmigo Latin Urban Reggaeton Hiphop Alternative Music Que Lloren Cafe Tacuba No Hay Nadie Como Tu Ruben Blades La Chilinga La Perla Puerto Rico
UPDATE: songs online.

Let's set some things straight first. Calle 13 doesn't make hiphop. And certaily no reggaeton either. It's kick ass music, and that's all that matters. Also, Rene Perez aka Residente is not a rapper. He's a poet. So before you go comparing the club potential of, let's say, Wisin y Yandel to the new Calle 13, understand that they're in a totally other league.

And to make that point very clear, the opening song on their new album Los De Atrás Vienen Conmigo is one big diss to 'commercial' reggaeton and its exponents. But where tirarea between rappers is usually limited to who has the biggest number of cars, guns and women, "Que Lloren" is a hit under the belt. The whole commercial system around modern reggaeton is made ridiculous in the characteristical Residente style, mixing poison with humor.

Te cojio de pendejo una disquera [...]
Tu eres un producto enlatado
Encima de un anaquel, antes cantabas rap
Y ahora eres pop como Luis Miguel [...]
Tu te vendiste mas barato que una prostituta en la autopista
Esto es la diferencia entre un negociante y un artista

The rapping might be too spoken word to keep the rhymes flowing, but it kinda matches the anger that's in the song. Still the chorus is quite catchy, and musically the best description I can find is 'norteño hiphop' - those horns!

So, no reggaeton ballads. But apparently there is room for love and romance on Los De Atrás Vienen Conmigo. The first single "No Hay Nadie Como Tu", with alternative icons Café Tacuba, is nothing but a rock ballad a lo latino. The song needs some time to grow on you, but it's a successful collaboration between two unconventional bands. The music reflects that, it's a bizarre mix of rock, rap and traditional instruments (didgeridoo, accordeon) driven by Luis Ledezma's drums. And again, the horns play a big role in setting the mood. A future classic. More love on "Electro Movimiento", graced with English vocals by an unknown talent. Visitante goes haywire with cheap synths, totally 80s electro. Over the top, as it should be, and the track doesn't feel out of place at all. "Todo el mundo con el paso del robot!"

Another theme is craziness. Figuratively, as on "Fiesta De Locos" (according to Residente inspired by an Emir Kusturica concert), or literally on "Jhon El Esquizofrenico". The latter shows the lyrical capacity of Residente, telling the tale of a 13-year old boy that collects corpses. Visitante creates a mystifying mood with strange fairytale music - think Edward Scissorhands. It's also reflected in the intro and outro, where a demon named Residente takes over the body of Rene Perez.

"La Perla" is an ode to the beauty of the roughest neighborhood in Puerto Rico. The song starts with subtle afro-latin percussion, and builds to a beautiful chorus with Rubén Blades and La Chilinga singing "La noche me sirve de sabana". Ever heard Rubén rapping? Here's your chance. Another collab worth mentioning is "Esto Con Eso", with superstar Juanes singing the chorus. It's catchy bass and funky guitar will get your caderas moving without a doubt. Though it seems a little strange dissing commercialism on the first track, and then inviting Juanes to sing.

In general, Los De Atrás Vienen Conmigo has both Residente and Visitante doing more what they want. The rapping is more poetry than enything else, sometimes like spoken word. The lack of flow isn't because his lyrics don't allow it (on the contrary, they rhyme brilliantly), it's his voice that's a bit too monotonous. But once you get over that, pay attention to the inventiveness of the music. Visitante made a musical work of art, with delicate tension building on every song and an incredible attention to detail. The emotion of the song is defined by the trumpets, who come in all forms and tones: melancholic ("No Hay Nadie Como Tu"), jazzy ("Ven Y Criticame"), salsa ("La Perla"), pompous ("Que Lloren"), even army-style ("Los De Atras Vienen Conmigo"). Which makes this the first latin urban album that feels as a whole, instead of a bunch of songs thrown together. Give it some time, and Los De Atrás Vienen Conmigo will become a new best friend.

Calle 13 & Café Tacuba - No Hay Nadie Como Tu mp3
Calle 13 ft. Rubén Blades & La Chilinga - La Perla mp3
Album: Los De Atrás Vienen Conmigo (Sony)
buy@iTunes buy@Amazon myspace


Carlos Reyes said...

I can't wait!

"Over the top, as it should be"

Best review line of the year! I was listening to that track (which leaked weeks ago) while reading your review and I seriously was thinking the same thing about it, but couldn't process it right.

Third albums are always risky, they must prove they are no double-shots... scary...


Juan Data said...

I have to disagree. Calle 13 IS hip-hop and Residente not only is a rapper, he's one of the best Spanish speaking rappers alive. Of course, it's not hip-hop if what you consider by hip-hop is the crap they play in the radios nowadays, but I'd argue that Calle 13 is more hip-hop than any of that. And Residente has a killer flow! It's not monotone at all, it's just newskool.