La Mala Rodríguez

Born in Sevilla, Spain, rapper María "La Mala" Rodríguez represents a new breed of European artist. She tells sordid stories about life in the hood, surrounded by dealers, drugs, and all kinds of toughs, while carrying over flamenco's dramatic flourish. La Mala's second studio album, Alevosía (Deliberate), offers her ragged voice and stories in a musical context that is less Spanish and more global than her debut, 2000's Lujo Ibérico, which achieved gold status in Spain. Anglo listeners who are used to strong hip-hop beats won't find that brand-new feeling that comes with Dr. Dre or Timbaland productions and would probably miss the fun in Alevosía because of its Spanish lyrics, but should certainly be able to enjoy it the same beats-over-content way Los Angeleno-Chicano or Puerto Rican rap is enjoyed here. Once again produced by La Mala friends Jota Mayuscula and Supernafamacho, the album shines on tracks such as "La niña" ("She wanted to sell drugs like her father/She got respected with courage and balls/They're calling/They're calling/Phone never stops ringing"), "Jugadoras, jugadores," and "Alevosía," where respected flamenco guitarist Raimundo Amador does a turn. And even when such guest rappers as Nut Rageous and La Ele only add clichés to the mix, La Mala is good enough to make the listening experience worthy.