La Maravilla, Arcangel

LA MARAVILLA Arcángel, Puerto Rico

by Carlos Reyes

Is Puerto Rico really producing the best music in Latin America? Perhaps not as revolutionizing as the one produced in Spain, but when you have the hottest urban act (Calle 13) the most respected Latino rocker (Robi Draco Rosa) and a new wave of rock in the island (Circo, Black Guayaba), one can already forecast the emerge of new talented musicians. Arcángel is one of them; even though he is an experienced reggaetonero he finally earns his emancipation with La Maravilla. The direct title suggested a masterpiece, a marvel, something only Kanye West would have the guts to self proclaim. La Maravilla (leaked by the artist via Rapidshare) sounds like a masterwork indeed. It's a progressive album that signifies a new quest for the urban genre. Along with the recent Vico C’s Desahogo and Calle 13’s Residente y Visitante, Arcángel delivers one of the best Latin urban albums of all time.

The opening track "Intro" is a collaboration with long time imprisoned rapper Tempo, it is an ironic and self constructive introduction recorded as a phone call from prison. They kindly greet each other, and immediately form a padrino-aijado relationship were both seem to question hate, popularity and the genre’s mediocrity. The inspiring album follows with "Tengo tantas ganas de ti," reminiscent of the early work by Michael Jackson in both, sounds and themes. Later he takes us on a trip where we found a tabooed genre within the reggaeton community: POP. Arcángel is never fearful of touching foreign musical grounds, and that itself elevates his art and reaffirms that his flow factory is factual and not just an entrepreneur’s attempt. The wonder stays away from formulas  and decides to make a path for himself.

No Pueden Con El Chamaquito asks his competition to accept that they can’t handle his flow. At the same time, the song carries a message (targeting both, politics and the monopoly of the music industry) where he suggests change must happen in the greatest empires and announcing that his turned has come. A song that seeks attention to the new generation acknowledging the individual at the throne (either a president or Tempo) calling him “the lion” and introducing “the kitten” (Arcángel obviously), and man! this baby sure knows how to roar. We find exotic tropical rhythms in"Me he enamorado de ti" and first single "Pa que la pases bien," both songs that has been trying to produce in the last few years without any fortune.

The album's unprecedented technique is its organization. It follows a template consisting of an introduction (with a fantastic clincher), a body that's truly celestial, and a classy conclusion with the final track "Te Falta," a song where he no longer calls himself a kitten, but a true cantautor. While Daddy Yankee and Don Omar fall into clichés by calling themselves the kings with pathetically simple lyrics, Arcángel proves himself to be worthy of earning the crown soon. He's like a young open-minded Vico C, distilled of the evangelical tone. It's refreshing to see a singer/rapper/reggaetonero that has no regrets in presenting romanticism and melancholic verses alongside sexual connotations and have it all fit within popular entertainment. Who else could come out with the most hysterical introduction in a song? One that totally blew me away -“Yo soy Arcángel. Optimus. Transformer.”. What an intimidating (and genius) way to make a first impression. 

Numeric Rating: 96/100