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Calle 13

Residente during a concert in Colombia
Background information
Origin Puerto Rico
Genres Alternative-reggaeton, Alternative hip-hop, Latin rap, Experimental
Associated acts Rubén Blades, Café Tacuba
Website LaCalle13.com
Members
René Pérez, a.k.a. Residente
Eduardo Cabra, a.k.a. Visitante

Calle 13 is a ten-time Latin Grammy Award and one time Grammy Award-winning Puerto Rican hip hop and alternative-reggaeton duo formed by stepbrothers René Pérez Joglar (born on February 23, 1978 in Hato Rey, a subsection of San Juan, Puerto Rico), who calls himself Residente (lead singer, writer) and Eduardo José Cabra Martínez, (born on September 10, 1978 in Santurce, another subsection of San Juan) who calls himself Visitante (multi-instrumentalist, particularly keyboards, vocals, beat producer). Their sister Ileana (aka PG-13) has contributed the female vocals to some of their songs, and so has Residente's mother, Puerto Rican actress Flor Joglar de Gracia (on the single "Tango del Pecado").

Contents

Musical style

Although most people have labeled Calle 13's music as reggaetón, they have tried to distance themselves from the style. Visitante, being a professional musician, tries to fuse diverse styles in the group's songs. Early cuts featured elements from jazz, bossa nova and salsa, while recent songs feature cumbia, tango, electronica and others. In their recent tours around Latin America they have added different musical elements according to the place the band is playing in, yet many of their songs carry the traditional reggaeton "Dem Bow" beat such as in their hit Tango del Pecado and the remix to "Suave".

Singer Residente is reluctant to label their music in a specific genre, instead calling it plain urban style. He has a clear preference of hip hop over traditional reggaeton and both he and his brother justify it by saying that only three songs out of fifteen songs in their eponymous debut album, as well as four out of fifteen songs in their album "Residente o Visitante", feature reggaetón beats.[1].

Residente's lyrical style is inspired partly by the lyrical approach used by artists such as Vico C and Tego Calderón, trying to minimize what they refer to as "clichés" of the genre -such as open confrontations with other rappers, known in Spanish as "tira'era", or tiradera. Residente's trademark, by his own account, is a lyrical style full of sarcasm, satire, parody and shock value, which some critics and fans have likened to Eminem's. It also uses Puerto Rican slang considerably (which in turn incorporates a sizeable dose of Spanglish), as well as allegory.

Residente's distinctive lyrics treat a wide and eclectic variety of subjects. He mentions (and sometimes derides) celebrities and known icons such as Diddy in the song "Pi-Di-Di-Di (La Especialidad de la Casa)" ("The Specialty of the House"); Mickey Mouse, Red Man, and 2Pac, in "Tengo Hambre" ("I'm Hungry"); 50 Cent in "La Crema" ("The Cream"); Madonna ("I mean, Maradona", Residente says) in "Sin Exagerar"; Puerto Rican singer Nydia Caro (rather affectionately) in "La Era de la Copiaera", wrestler Abdullah the Butcher in Tributo a la Policía ("A Tribute to Police"), and most controversially, his diss track aimed at the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Querido F.B.I. ("Dear F.B.I."). The song "A Limpiar El Sucio" ("Cleaning Up The Dirt") is rumored to be a veiled (some say direct) attack on Puerto Rican entertainment journalist Milly Cangiano.

Visitante, on the other hand, is strongly influenced by electronica, world music, and particularly Latin American folk and popular music. Recently, Visitante has claimed to be influenced by music from Central Europe such as Fanfare Ciocarlia (particularly its collaboration with Roma band Kaloome, also known as "The Gypsy Kings and Queens") and Emir Kusturica's group, "The No Smoking Orchestra". In live presentations, Visitante can be seen playing a variety of instruments: an electric guitar, synthesizers, an accordion, a melodica, a Puerto Rican cuatro and a theremin.

Band History

Early years

Residente and Visitante come from a family with strong ties to the Puerto Rican arts community. Residente's mother, Flor Joglar de Gracia, was an actress in Teatro del Sesenta, a local acting troupe; Visitante's father (who later became Residente's stepfather) is currently a lawyer, but at one time was a musician.

When they were children, Eduardo would visit his brother at the Calle 13 (13th Street) of the El Conquistador subsection of Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico every week. Since the subsection is a gated community, visitors were routinely asked "¿Residente o visitante?" ("Resident or visitor?") by a security guard when approaching the community's main gate. Therefore, Cabra would identify himself as a visitor, while Pérez would have to insist -often, he claims- that he was a resident to clear the gate. The pair named themselves Calle 13 after the street their family's house was on.[1]

Residente originally studied to be an accountant, and his brother finished a computer science degree. An art course prompted Residente to pursue a career as a multimedia designer, and Visitante became a full-time musician and producer. Besides this, Residente was a fan of what was then called "underground rap" in Puerto Rico, and started to earn a reputation as a lyricist (Residente says, with some embarrassment, that his moniker at the time was "El Déspota", or "The Despot"). Meanwhile, Visitante participated in Bayanga, a rock and Brazilian batucada group.[2]

After Residente finished studying in Georgia at the Savannah College of Art and Design (Sound Design), and after spending a stint in Barcelona sneaking into film classes, he returned to Puerto Rico. Soon after, both of them started working in their music. They claim they initially did it as a joke, but they still managed to get some of their songs heard around.[2]

First Album

Querido F.B.I.

Calle 13 (Visitante) during their first concert in Managua, Nicaragua.

At one time, Residente and Visitante sent a demo tape to Elías De León, the owner of White Lion Records, and the label offered them a record deal.[2] While their first album was being mixed, Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, leader of the Puerto Rican revolutionary group known as Los Macheteros, was killed in the middle of the course of arrest by the F.B.I.. Details about this raid still remain unclear, according to a Puerto Rico Department of Justice's report issued on the matter on April 2008.

Angered by the F.B.I.'s action, Residente -a supporter of the Puerto Rican independence movement- wrote a song protesting against what had happened to Ojeda and asked his record label to allow the group to release it in the Internet through viral marketing through IndyMedia Puerto Rico, an alternative news website. The song, named "Querido F.B.I." ("Dear FBI"), and produced by the group and local DJ Danny Fornaris, was written, produced and published during the thirty hours immediately after Ojeda's killing. The lyrics include the phrase "Sin cojones la radio y las ventas, White Lion me dio pasaporte para tirar este corte" (The Radioes and Vendors don't have balls[guts], White Lion gave me a passport [permission] to overthrow the courts[publish this cut]"), evidencing Residente's wish to have the song distributed for free with permission from the label.

Public controversy about the song's lyrics ensured immediate attention from mainstream media in Puerto Rico, and gave the band instant rise to local fame. The song, according to critics, "redefined what a reggaeton vocalist’s relationship to Puerto Rico should be" [3]. Up to that moment, most local reggaetón artists had opted not to address political subjects in their songs. In comparison, "Querido F.B.I." became the subject of debate at a forum hosted at University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras soon after its release, and had its lyrics posted in local newspapers such as Primera Hora and Claridad.

Eventually, a video clip for the song surfaced, which combines images from Ojeda himself, his burial, scenes from historical footage from the 1954 armed attack to the United States House of Representatives by Puerto Rican nationalists, and images of everyday Puerto Ricans holding protest signs. Spanish-Puerto Rican thrash metal band "Juerguistas y Borrachos" also issued a remix of the song, adding electric guitar riffs to it. Both media items were also released to the public through viral marketing.

Album's success

Soon after this, the duo rose to fame in 2005 with two back-to-back hits on Puerto Rican radio stations: "Se Vale Tó-Tó" and "Atrevete-te-te!". Both songs were later included on their eponymously titled debut album.

The first song's title ("Se Vale Tó-Tó") is a play on words, subsitituting "to-to", a variation on the Puerto Rican slang term for a vagina ("toto"), for "todo" (all). An approximate translation of "se vale todo" is "all is allowed here", or more accurately, "anything goes"; the song's chorus is a reference to grinding while dancing. Residente personally directed and edited the video for the song, which was filmed on a relatively small budget of US$14,000.

The second single, "Atrevete-te-te!", fused Colombian cumbia with Puerto Rican slang and cultural references, and features a clarinet duo (clarinet music is often featured in music from Colombia's Caribbean coast), which is fairly reminiscent of a similar clarinet duo from Compay Segundo's song "Chan Chan". It became a major pop music hit in several Latin American countries.

After this rise to fame, the duo was sought by other reggaetón artists, and they collaborated with artists such as Voltio in the song "Ojalai" (also known as "Chulin Culin Chunfly", whose name is a minor variation of a song written by Mexican comedy writer Roberto Gómez Bolaños, of whose comedic characters Residente is a fan), and with the Three 6 Mafia in the remix, singing or co-writing songs. At the end of 2005, they finally released their album, which received great critical praise and has been hailed as a cornerstone in Puerto Rico's musical history, they are one of the biggest music stars at the moment.

In 2006 the duo kept on working as they broke into a wider-music scene with at least two more smash hits that were played throughout Puerto Rico and U.S. Urban music radio and television stations, including the songs "Japón" ("Japan"), and "Suave" ("Soft/Slow"). The group also had their first massive-venue concert on May 6, 2006 at the Jose Miguel Agrelot Coliseum in San Juan. They also toured Central and South America, playing "Atrévete-te-te" before an escola de samba in Venezuelan television, and also visiting, among others, Guatemala, Chile, Honduras and Colombia. In an interview done during the production of their third album, Calle 13 stated that the production would include songs discussing poverty.[4] The duo also noted that the production would include cumbia villera and "Sounds from Eastern Europe".[4]

Media exposure in Puerto Rico

Residente and PG-13 during the 34th. Support to Claridad Festival, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, 24 April 2008

In light of the criticism directed towards the band, Calle 13 has become a cultural reference to be reckoned with in Puerto Rico. An example of this is the constant references made to the band and to Residente by satirical writer Fiquito Yunqué in the weekly pro-independence newspaper Claridad. Yunqué's columns sometimes feature Calle 13 lyrics as their titles, and Yunqué even introduced the band onstage at one of their live performances in Puerto Rico (mentioned in the section "Major success in the Americas" below).

Acceptance of Calle 13's music even influenced the Governor of Puerto Rico, Anibal Acevedo Vilá who, in December 2005, admitted to listening to Calle 13 because his son had copied some of their songs to his iPod. Acevedo claimed that "songs such as Calle 13's were eye openers" to him. As a result, since the country had a chronic problem of people being unknowingly injured or killed by stray bullets fired to the air on New Year's Eve, Acevedo felt compelled to invite the duo to La Fortaleza and to have them record a song against shootings bullets in the air as a way of celebrating the holiday.[5]

The single, "Ley De Gravedad" (Law of Gravity) was released as part of a public-service campaign for that matter. Some political adversaries of Acevedo dismissed this as a trick to ingratiate himself with Puerto Rican youth and pro-independence advocates, and was criticized by the local press due to the fact that an artist who seemingly promoted violence with their "Querido FBI" song was now supposed to be a role model for anti-violence. However, the campaign was thought to be effective in reducing the injured, from twelve (and one death) the previous year, to three the year the campaign was run, though many members of the artistic community contributed to this effort in separate campaigns.[6]

Residente was also linked romantically with Denise Quiñones, Miss Universe 2001[7].

Calle 13 recently teamed up with Julio Voltio to speak out against police brutality in Puerto Rico.[8] After recording a song titled "Tributo a la Policía", Calle 13 distributed the single free on the streets in front of the Police Headquarters of San Juan.

International Exposure

As the duo has risen to fame, other international artists of various genres have sought them. In 2006 and 2007, they recorded songs with Canadian Nelly Furtado and Spanish Alejandro Sanz. In their recent album, they feature contributions with such diverse groups like Orishas (a hip-hop group whose members had emigrated from Cuba), Mexican Café Tacuba, Argentine Vicentico (from Los Fabulosos Cadillacs), and La Mala Rodríguez (from Spain), among others.

On May 19, 2006, the band celebrated their first international concert, held in Panama City to a crowd of 5,000. During the summer of 2006 Calle 13 was featured on MTV's My Block: Puerto Rico.

From September 15-October 31 Calle 13 was Artist Speaking Tr3s on MTV Tr3s.

On November 2, 2006 the band won three Latin Grammys (Best New Artist; Best Urban Album; and Best Short Version Video, for the song Atrévete-te-te.) They later filmed a video along with Voltio for "Chulín Culín Chunfly", where Residente, dressed as a priest and later as Bruce Lee, is given a severe beating by a gang. On October 9, 2008, Calle 13 parcicipated in the “MTV Tr3s Pass Tour”.[9]

Also, their hit song Atrevete-te-te! was a featured track on the Grand Theft Auto IV, San Juan Sounds radio station.

Residente o Visitante

On April 24, 2007, their second album Residente o Visitante was released. Tracks in the album were partially recorded in Puerto Rico and while on tour in Colombia, Argentina and Venezuela. This is part of a conscious effort by Residente to stay in tune with the local reality of the countries they have visited, hoping to learn the musical cultures, local slang, and street stories in the process.

Residente considered this album to be darker than the first, but also more introspective and biographical. As part of the album, Calle 13 filmed the video for their first single off the album, Tango del Pecado, on February 25, 2007. The video suggests a surreal sequence where Residente and Denise Quiñones are married in a garden, with barbed wire physically separating their families, Sunshine Logroño dressed as an archbishop to marry them, Tego Calderón and Voltio acting as best men, and various peculiar characters surrounding them. Gustavo Santaolalla intervened in the song's production.

Major success in the Americas

On November 8, 2007, Calle 13, along with Orishas, performed the song "Pa'l Norte" at the 8th Annual Latin Grammy Awards, held at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Their live performance featured the percussion/dance group Stomp. A troupe of dancers dressed in traditional Latin American garb and wearing bandannas in their faces (as if they were bandits) were also featured. Two members of the traditional Colombian folk cumbia band Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto, as well as members from an indigenous tribe local to the Gaiteros' hometown in northern Colombia, followed Residente to the stage at the beginning of the song. The subtext of the presentation was that Latin Americans were "invading the North" (the United States) and were there to stay.

Calle 13 earned two Latin Grammys later that night. The Gaiteros de San Jacinto, who had also received a Grammy for their album "Un Fuego de Sangre Pura", could only accept it when Calle 13 intervened to finance their trip to Las Vegas and obtain a temporary visa to visit the United States on their behalf.

The group's presentation was considered by critics and many viewers of the award ceremony as the highlight of the night. One approving viewer, sitting in the audience at the Center (and who was mentioned in ad libbed comments by Residente during the song) was salsa singer and international media celebrity Rubén Blades. Blades is quoted as saying: "That combination of urban (feel), particularly the indigenous people's entrance, made such a big spiritual impression on me that I think it is one of the most special moments I've ever witnessed, as far as live presentations go". Blades later received Residente and Visitante in his native Panama, served as their host for one of the video podcasts in his website, and publicly gave them a copy of one of his songs' lyrics, expecting them to at least consider using them in a future musical collaboration.

A later tour of the Americas had Calle 13 perform to sell-out crowds in Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina. The band also performed in the United States, including an appearance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on April 27, 2008.

The band received all three possible audience acceptance awards when they performed at the 2008 Viña del Mar International Song Festival in, Viña del Mar, Chile, taming the usually demanding crowd (traditionally nicknamed "El Monstruo", or "The Monster" -because of its fickleness- by Chilean media). They also performed to a sold-out crowd at Luna Park in Buenos Aires, Argentina. They finished their tour at the 34th. Annual Claridad Support Festival in San Juan on April 24, 2008, performing for one of the largest crowds ever assembled at the Festival (according to the newspaper's directorship board). Denise Quiñones joined the band onstage for their abbreviated song set.

On October 21, 2008 their third album, Los de Atrás Vienen Conmigo, was released. A series of songs off the album began to be released weekly as singles. Four singles were released: "Que Lloren" (September 16, 2008); "Electro Movimiento" (September 23, 2008); "Fiesta de Locos" (September 30, 2008); and "No Hay Nadie Como Tú", the latter featuring Café Tacuba. On August 11, 2009, the duo was invited to Ecuador by Rafael Correa's government, serving as guests in the local celebrations that commemorate the coup that began the Ecuadorian War of Independence. They played in Quito, performing in Estadio Olímpico Atahualpa for the first time, in an activity that included Nueva Canción: Argentina, León Gieco and speeches by Correa, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, deposed president of Honduras Manuel Zelaya, Cuban president Raúl Castro and Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega. During the performance Residente said that he wished Puerto Rico could be an independent country such as Ecuador.[10]

On October 15, 2009, Calle 13 won the Premios MTV Latinoamérica for "Best Urban Artist".[11 ] Pérez also served as host throughout the ceremony, using this exposure to insult Luis Fortuño and comment about a civilian general strike that was organized earlier that day, held to protest the firing of more than 25,000 public employees by Fortuño's administration.[11 ] Los de Atrás Vienen Conmigo was nominated in five categories for the 2009 Latin Grammy Awards winning all of them, including 'Album of the Year', 'Best Urban Album', 'Record of the Year' and 'Best Alternative Song' for the hit single "No Hay Nadie Como Tu" along with Café Tacuba, as well as 'Best Music Video (in Short Format)' for "La Perla" featuring salsa legend Rubén Blades. The winners were announced on November 5, 2009, in a ceremony held at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.[12]

Parodies

Calle 13 has been parodied by popular artists such as actor, director, writer and Argentine comedian Diego Capusotto, whose character Latino Solanas (named for the filmmaker and politician Pino Solanas) of popular music and comedy show Peter Capusotto y sus videos, is presented as a musician of reggaeton with postures, common phrases and mannerisms of artists like Don Omar, Daddy Yankee and Calle 13, among others. The character states that he spreads the "real" Latin culture, and even invented his own machine to make perreo and inspire himself at the same time, but his songs are not welcomed, and his attempts to make himself understood always end in misfortune.[13]

Awards

2006 Latin Grammys:

2006 Los Premios MTV Latinoamérica:

  • Won: Promising Artist

2007 Billboard Latin Music Awards:

  • Nominated: Best Reggaeton Album for Calle 13

2007 Latin Grammys:

2008 Grammys:

2009 Latin Grammys:

2009 Los Premios MTV Latinoamérica:

  • Won: Best Urban Artist

Discography

References

  1. ^ a b Latin Hip Hop Interview - "Calle 13 Cross Spanish Rap's Musical Borders"
  2. ^ a b c Latina.com Interview - "A Night Out with Calle 13" by Nuria Net
  3. ^ Frances Negrón-Muntaner and Raquel Z. Rivera, "Reggaeton Nation" (17 December 2007)
  4. ^ a b Aixa Sepúlveda Morales (2008-08-07). "Vuelven a cantar a los marginados" (in Spanish). Primera Hora. http://www.primerahora.com/noticia/musica/espectaculos_asi/vuelven_a_cantar_a_los_marginados/217438. Retrieved 2008-08-11.  
  5. ^ Zonai.com Article about Calle 13 and the Governor of Puerto Rico "Residente Calle 13 en campaña contra las balas"
  6. ^ Fundación Nacional para la Cultura Popular "Calle 13 en campaña de la oficialidad"
  7. ^ NY Daily News - "Down 'n' dirty, South America way"
  8. ^ "Julio Voltio and Residente (Calle 13) Denounce Police brutality with Two New Songs"
  9. ^ Aixa Sepúlveda Morales (2008-10-10). "Calienta motores en familia" (in Spanish). Primera Hora. http://www.primerahora.com/noticia/otros_asi/espectaculos_asi/calienta_motores_en_familia/237678. Retrieved 2008-10-11.  
  10. ^ "León Gieco y Calle 13 cautivaron en Quito" (in Spanish). El Universo. 2009-08-12. http://www.eluniverso.com/2009/08/12/1/1378/leon-gieco-calle-cautivaron-quito.html. Retrieved 2009-11-08.  
  11. ^ a b "Residente le tira con to' a Fortuño" (in Spanish). Primera Hora. 2009-10-15. http://www.primerahora.com/diario/noticia/tv/espectaculosasi/residente_le_tira_con_to_a_fortuno/338199. Retrieved 2009-10-16.  
  12. ^ http://www.aztecaespectaculos.com/nota/musica/calle-13-liderea-nominaciones-al-grammy-latino-2009/2009-09-1933
  13. ^ http://www.pagina12.com.ar/diario/suplementos/no/12-4258-2009-09-10.html No, the daily supplement of Pagina 12 - "Peter Capusotto y sus videos" a mass phenomenon

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