By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
Calle 13 crashed its way into the reggaeton party in 2005, coming seemingly out of nowhere with its hard-hitting eponymous debut. Booty-shaking though it was, the Puerto Rico-based duo's album offered a much-needed respite from reggaeton's seemingly nonstop party antics. So it really wasn't a great shock when Calle 13 climbed to the top of the Latin Billboard charts, snagged two Latin Grammys, and caught the attention of reggaeton fans tired of the same old beat. Two years later, lyricist Residente (a.k.a. Ren' P'rez) has a special message for his Miami fan base. "Calle 13 is not reggaeton," he says. "It should be more evident with our new record that our music aims to be diverse, and that's what our listeners are looking for: something new and different."
That quest for rhythmical diversity led Residente and his half-brother Visitante (a.k.a. Eduardo Cabra) to release Residente o Visitante, one of the most innovative Latin music records of the year. Unlike its predecessor, which mainly fused reggaeton rhythms with hip-hop beats, their sophomore effort reaches out to all of Latin America through fresh, traditional instruments clashing against a plethora of mighty digital breakbeats.
Refreshingly the new album's guest list reads like a who's-who of the underground Latin music scene: reggaeton king Tego Calderón, Cuban hip-hop mavericks Orishas, and top Spanish rhymer La Mala Rodríguez. The brothers even snatched up celebrated Oscar-winning Argentine composer Gustavo Santaolalla to collaborate on a new single. The result, "Tango del Pecado" ("The Tango of Sin"), is a dreamlike collage of electronic tango accordion and reggaeton.
Calle 13's current U.S. tour will bring the group to La Covacha, an intimate venue and, considering the duo's rising popularity, a great place to catch them before they move on to bigger concert halls. "You won't be disappointed," promises Residente. "We may be different, but you are going to like us."