Posted by Andress TreceX On jueves, 20 de octubre de 2011 0 comentarios
Ever since their debut hit ‘Querido FBI’ (protesting the 2005 assassination of a Puerto Rican independence leader), Calle 13 have channelled an urgent call for social change into their urban street sound. Hugely popular across the Americas, René Pérez (Residente) and Eduardo Cabra (Visitante) have won ten Latin Grammys and two Grammy awards. Reggaeton, hip-hop, cumbia...the San Juan duo don’t want to be categorised, they want justice in Latin America by any means necessary. And that includes via the likes of Sony and Adidas.
On your latest album Entren Los Que Quieran, the track ‘Latinoamérica’ features three legends:Totó La Momposina, Susana Baca and Maria Rita. You got them all in the studio together?
René Pérez (Residente): Yes we all recorded together and their energy in the studio was extraordinary. When we listened to the track afterwards, we realised that having them altogether like that was what made it so special.
Calle 13 feat Totó La Momposina, Susana Baca and Maria Rita - Latinoamérica
You also recorded a track with Seun Kuti. Is his father Fela a model for you, musically and politically?
Eduardo Cabra (Visitante): Musically, yes, because he created his own signature sound, an original sound. As a musician it’s so important to create your own mark. That’s exactly what we’re aiming for, and Fela is a great example to us. We try to avoid repeating ourselves in our work, we always try to do new things and that’s how we’re building our own musical tag. We absorb everything around us and adapt it to our own way of seeing things.
And politically...yes we relate to him because he used his music, which was very innovative, to denounce the many injustices in his country. Fela was very political. But to be honest what really interests me about Fela was the originality of his music, the sound itself. I really like what Seun is doing too, and he’s playing with his father’s band (Egypt 80).
Your music has always been very political. Did you choose rap because it’s such a powerful way to transmit political messages?
René Pérez: No, I was singing before I was rapping, the style doesn’t really matter. But I know what you mean, because rap is a force the way that rock was in the 1960s. Rap lets you be more descriptive, it leaves a kind of open space for lyrics, space to say more, in a way that many other genres don’t.
You are fiercely independent – you demand total freedom of expression in your music and lyrics, and yet you’re signed to Sony. Isn’t that a paradox?
René Pérez: It’s naive to think that you can be against the system without being inside it. That kind of thinking is really just for romantics. I consider my fight to be an honest one because I use all the resources at my disposal to be against the system and fight it from the inside. I don’t have a problem collaborating with Sony or Adidas if it’s the only way to get the message across to the biggest number of people. That’s modernity!
So you think it’s important to be “commercial” - to be popular and reach the greatest number of people?
René Pérez: Otherwise how are we going to reach Beyonce or Shakira fans? People from the poor neighbourhoods are the ones I care about – the kids, the people who haven’t had access to education. I’m not interested in an orgy of intellectuals! This isn’t just a strategy, it’s about what is real – they are the ones who will make the revolution happen, not the intellectuals, even if they agree with us!
So your message is a call to action?
Eduardo Cabra: Yes, and it’s not just directed at Puerto Rico. It’s a global message.
Calle 13 – Entren Los Que Quieran is out now on Sony