A few years ago, my cousins turned me on to Calle 13 a rap group that takes it’s name form “street 13” in the Conquistador neighborhood where one of the them grew up, and not to far from my childhood home.
The first song I heard was “Querido FBI” or “Dear FBI”, an angry tirade against the federales, after they murdered fugitive bank robbing revolutionary, and local hero, Filiberto Ojeda, in a Ruby Ridge style shootout.
What I like most about Calle 13’s early work is that they didn’t give a shit who understood them. The lyrics are filled with Puerto Rican slang, local sayings and popular culture references, and yet they have achieved worldwide popularity. I was going to attempt a translation, but it would be a fuckin travesty. But in short they imagine the entire population of Puerto Rico rising up against the US and the FBI, with knives! I really wish they would return to the hard and uncompromising sound of their first couple of records.
This Saturday I’ll have a chance to see them perform live in my homeland. Yeah, I’m fuckin bragging, so below I leave you with my favorite track by far, “Pa’l Norte” where Calle 13 show their mastery of language manipulation while injecting heavy political lyrics about the plight of immigrants. Cuban hiphop group Orishas is also featured on the track.