Review of Calle 13's 'Entren Los Que Quieran'

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Plenty of hubbub - everything from comedy to controversy - follows the Puerto Rican hip-hop duo Calle 13. Their penchant for high jinks notwithstanding, the stepbrothers have consistently given voice to an underlying ethic of resistance, one that's never been quite as vociferous as it is on their fourth and latest album, "Entren Los Que Quieran."

In "Calma Pueblo," lead vocalist/MC Rene Perez Joglar (a.k.a. Residente) takes aim at everyone from the pope and the White House to Sony Music, the group's record label. Rock-rap beats and freaky electric guitar shore up the invective, the latter courtesy of Omar Rodriguez-Lopez of the Mars Volta. Resolutely global in scope, the expansive village that Residente describes is anything but quiet.

Updating the eerie atmospherics of spaghetti western soundtracks, "La Bala" (Spanish for bullet) paints bloody scenes evocative of drug wars and military coups - and of the violence-steeped prose of Cormac McCarthy. In the head-bobbing "Digo Lo Que Pienso," Residente boasts that he always speaks his mind, regardless of the ill effects that such defiance might have on the group's popularity.

Crafting the beats is Residente's stepbrother, Eduardo Jose Cabra Martinez (a.k.a. Visitante), whose music is as globally conscious as the band's message. Bollywood and reggaeton, for example, converge on the libidinous "Baile de los Pobres." Indigenous Latin American wind and percussion instruments add mystical overtones to "La Vuelta al Mundo," even as ska and other rhythms drive "Vamo a Portarnos Mal," their exuberance - and revolutionary fervor - making Calle 13 sound like Puerto Rico's answer to the immigrant punk collective Gogol Bordello.

- Bill Friskics-Warren

Recommended tracks "Calma Pueblo," "La Bala," "Vamo a Portarnos Mal"

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