Reggaeton in Spanish works even without comprehension


I readily admit that I am a rather unusual person to be listening to hip-hop, let alone Spanish-language alternative-reggaeton from Puerto Rico. I knew when I bought this record that I probably wouldn’t understand very much of the Spanish, but as I popped the new Calle 13 record “Residente o Visitante,” released on April 24, into my CD player, I found my head bouncing to the beat in a way usually reserved for Outkast and Nujabes, two of the few hip-hop acts I really like.

What’s appealing to me about “Residente o Visitante” are the beats, the same thing that I like about the two aforementioned artists. While part of this is because I can only pick out a few words of the Spanish every couple seconds, it’s also because the beats are really good. Calle 13 has chosen some very unusual instruments to go along with their thump-tha-thump-thumps. The intro track is an opera, complete with a choir singing “cabr?n.”

“Sin Exagerar” seems to sample 1970s spy movie music to excellent effect, and my favorite track, “Un Beso De Desayuno,” has acoustic, classical-style guitar and piano that add a nice mood to the track. Even though I can’t understand most of what they’re saying, I can appreciate lead singer Residente’s flow. The sound of the language he uses is as much an instrument as the bass or drums and is just as important to the overall sound.

If you like hip-hop, you should to pick up “Residente o Visitante,” even if you don’t speak Spanish. Now, it’s time to go Google some English translations.