Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"Tango del Pecado" Calle 13

I first became aware of reggaetón almost a decade ago when my ceiling came close to caving in. My upstair neighbors were having a party. The salsa was rather loud, but it was a Friday, and I didn't mind. Not until they started jummping up and down in unison, and I watched the paint and plaster pop off the walls as the celing lurched with each leap. "No, yo no soy policía," I had to explain, with my large frame and Irish ancestry, as I knocked on the door and asked them to lower the music. It was the immanent collapse, not the volume, that was bothering me. Reggaetón is a loud Jamaican-influenced Latin dance style that might not be very familiar or accessible to Americans who live outside urban areas or who don't watch MTV or Univision. Yet it has its charms.

Calle 13 is a self-described "urban" duo out of Puerto Rico. Two half brothers, René "Residente" Pérez Joglar and Eduardo José "Vistante" Cabra Martínez sing and perform hit songs in the broader hip hop genre that show the influence of salsa, jazz, electronica and other traditional styles. Their 2007 hit Tango del Pecado ("Tango of Sin") merges a tango rythm and the base reggaetón beat with ingenious comic lyrics to create a smart catchy pop song that could most easily be described as Eminem en Español. As with that domestically controversial norteamericano, their socially provocative lyrics (mocking the FBI in one song and singing "to the North" (Pa'l Norte) in another will not please certain American listeners. But one need not approve of their lyrics to appreciate their musical innovation.

Here is a description of the video at Wikipedia.

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