I’ve just spent 3 weeks in Puerto Rico with a holy shit cast of characters. I haven’t been down to the island in almost five years because of the general apathy that’s become commonplace en mi islita, but the timing was right and I think Puerto Rico may finally be ready for change.
Within days of my arrival I found myself in the midst of some of the top dawgs of the reggaeton and electronic music scenes and I wanna take a few to hip ya’ll to whats gwarnin out there. Its way too much for one post so I’ve broken it up into three that will air this week.
First off, shouts out to Toy Selectah who was also in town to work on some tracks for Calle 13 and Argentine reggae artist Fidel Nadal. At Toy’s invitation, I found myself at Visitante’s home recording studio where C13 have been working on their new album. Hand’s down, what the boys have built is the most beautifully decorated and acoustically engineered studio I’ve ever stepped foot in. Cherry oak walls engraved with logos from their various releases, persian rugs, top notch gear, blah blah blah. I got to hear what Toy was contributing and what is coming down the pipe is explosive. Visitante their producer, Ismael their drummer and Mark, the dread in the video who doubles his duty as guitarist in the video and the carpenter who’s been building the studio, are all hella cool peoples and you should definitely peep this new single Calma Pueblo which has been riling up the religious censors.
Yo soy el que quiere que coman, aunque no tengan hambre – Residente-Calle 13
I’m the one that wants you all to eat, even if you’re not hungry
I feel like with that line alone Rene’, better known as Residente, summarizes one of the most disenfranchising aspects about life on the island and the reason that his band is so popular. It’s what my friend Yari calls The 100×35 Mentality. There is a serious apathy plaguing the island when it comes to embracing change. New is completely disregarded until its cool and there are very few artists (or members of the general populace) that break norms there. C13 has consistently pushed the envelope. As do we..
Toy Selectah and I played together to a capacity crowd of 550 party people, on a monday night. The resident DJ has been building the night for 4 years and leans toward hip-hop and dancehall. I played about 45 minutes of dancehall cumbia mashups, crunk cumbia refixes, panamanian plena and hip hop in spanish. I’m happy to announce that it was received fairly well received by most of the audience, the bartenders and even by the resident DJ (*you’ll never kill a top 40 hip hop crowd with all new underground sounds, but do dare yourself to try).
The part of the audience that comes to dance liked it more than the guys that were there to drink and pose off but I’d definitely say it was the first time for almost anyone in the room to hear this stuff and something went right because I had alot of hits on FB the following day as a result.
At the end of the night, we had an honest conversation with the DJ about having built something that could change island. He could be the one to introduce a world of new latin sounds to the island, to which he replied… that’s really not my thing. And therein lies the problem on the island. They need more leaders like c13 to set trends and propel them forward. The people are getting tired of la misma mierda. The strike at the University of Puerto Rico en April was a perfect example that the people want things to be done differently. They are willing to stand up for change. What they need is a movement, and in my next post I’ll tell you more about how I’m getting that ball rolling.