Total Cultura - EP, Malportado Kids
Dead Labour, USA
by Zé Garcia
Newcomers Malportado Kids released their debut Mi Concha EP in January of 2014. Somehow we didn't get the memo. The damn serious video for "Mi Concha" begins with a flashing quote (a visual homage to the first few seconds of Alex Andwandter's "Como Puedes Vivir Contigo Mismo” ?) that reads "who taught you to hate yourself?" Who taught you to hate yourself itself is taken from the infamous speech by Malcom X in which he asks his fellow Africans- among many painful questions- who taught you to bleach your skin? Spliced images of white indie bands abound, vocalist Victoria Ruiz exclaims "mi concha no es bastante blanca!" before telling white supremacy "chingate, fuck you güey!" Vicious, cool. See white supremacy is not solely experienced as white men in robes- media, institutions, $ociety, can be much more insidious and discrete. I remember being a teenager who temporarily changed his name to Josh and wanted to shop at places like A&F. Dark days.
Malportado Kids is Victoria Ruiz (U.S. born via Mexico & Puerto Rico) & Joey La Neve DeFrancesco (Ruiz's white accomplice)- “anti-colonial tropical punk" from Rhode Island. They also rage in the band Downtown Boys who are well respected in the anti-capitalist punk underground and just played Old Mount Happy in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood- its even older incarnation- Mount Happy- was the first “punk” venue in Chicago I had ever visited back in 2010. Malportado Kids begins their latest EP Total Cultura with "Soy La Pocha”- kindling the "danceable propaganda" fire instantly- Ruiz purrs, the reggaetón throttles, the turn up is inescapable: “Cruzo lo que quiero” Ruiz cries out, “Latina, boricua morena, mestiza, hispana, chicano, POCHA!” Lead single "Bruja Cosmica" is a digital trojan horse floating through the universe- coruscating electronics give way to un pasito medio Banda, and back down Victoria's cosmic tongue, shouting hexes along the way. The warning is in the lyrics: the witch could be she who makes your bed. "1492 Overture" is an interlude that shits on the legacy and memory of that fateful year when the colonists sailed the ocean blue on their imperial conquests. But the legacy of the colonists continues to this day, unfolding in our narratives: “Cabron, colombo ¿Como sigue sin parrar? Cabron, colombo ¿Como sigue near and far?” Malportado Kids must ask: autonomy or patriarchy?
Space odyssey interlude "Bienvenido" interrogates: "que piensas de esta cause perdida?" "Chingona" sifts militantly through the jungle- “no soy Madonna” borrowing keyboards from a mythical anti capitalist lambada coursing through the veins of black & brown bodies across “the Americas” while "Fuego" sounds like Rita Indiana toying with Maria y José's music equipment. "Basta Huedo" (stop whitey! ) has a hint of the baile funk in M.I.A.'s "Bucky Done Gone" with as much swag, and perhaps an ounce more of militancy: "give me back my fucking land!" A guest verse by Norlan Olivio aka Cathawk (drummer for Downtown Boys via the Dominican Republic & Puerto Rico) cries out "I don't need money to love myself"- a bold statement in an age where our self respect and sense of belonging seems to be accelerating further away from currency, especially for those of us who don’t have the monetary kind. “Drones, clones, phones, homes, bones, loans, white zones…they can gun me down or lock me up but I’m still Brown and proud” Cathawk continues. And this shit is real. The prison industrial complex continues swallowing our Black communities, incarcerating our mothers and their children in for profit "family friendly" detention centers- and the threat of being murdered by law enforcement is very real. Anti blackness & near indigenous extinction rule everything around me, yo.
The Knife referenced it in their debut album and made it about school girls on their knees and suicide, album closer "I'm On Fire" is a Bruce Springsteen cover but no one is seriously drinking this white man's "working class" tears. An odd but compelling way to close out an album that insists on rallying against the "modalities of whiteness, imperialism, and masculinity", Malportado Kid's "bad desire" might be the total destruction of those things that have sought and continue to seek our destruction. "Total Cultura" tells the story that it is possible to fight the power structures of capitalist white supremacy with the cosmic brujeria we already possess. The fierce DIY energy of the duo is unquestionable but we have to wonder what the band might sound like with a more polished sound. Or what they sound like en vivo. Malportado Kids will play Chicago's 2040 House on June 10th.