Los de Atras Vienen Conmigo, Calle 13

Sony International, Puerto Rico
By Carlos Reyes

Residente and Visitante dispatch themselves from reggaeton completely; Los De Atras Vienen Conmigo is another triumph by the most radical urban act in Latin music and continues the quest on making urban part of the alternative juxtaposition we are witnessing. Residente certifies his status as the single most irrepressible persona in music today, while Visitante continues his monstrous musical vision as a multi-instrumentalist and top notch producer. Although they have polished a solid collaborative sound, this record belongs to Visitante as much as how Residente o Visitante belongs to Residente. If this isn’t modern music, I don’t know what is. Los De Atras Vienen Conmigo is a celebration towards the freedom of the arts and a musical landmark that captures the condition of the globalized man during the 21st century. Socially ambiguous, a record recreating the absurd bombardment of change in the first eight years of this decade. It’s definitely not the first one to attempt to craft such vision, but the way they do it is simply unprecedented. Just when exactly did the socially unaccepted form of expression known as vulgarity became a weapon of mass protestation?

Calle 13’s vision is a bit more complex than how it appears; sure the music is fun and explicitly delicious, but overlooking its direction signifies passing on an ideal product of lyricism and mediation. In the track “Que Lloren” Residente says his music is not intended for the clubs but the brains. It almost feels contradictory, but just like Flamenco dancers do, Residente doesn’t make music for others, not even for the fans, an artist’s great talents are best appreciated when trying to fulfill himself. The lyrics convey satire at all times, with precise humor and lyrical explosion backing up multilayered tracks for the open minded. Residente o Visitante is a flawless masterpiece and my favorite album of this decade, their latest may not be as brilliant and unexpected, but it their most personal production yet. The intro of the album tells the story of Residente taking over the body of Rene Perez; it manages to be a beautiful fantasy story that is at the same time very violent, much like Guillermo del Toro’s El Laberinto del Fauno.

First single “No hay nadie como tu” features Café Tacvba in a sublime romantic song hard to catalogue in any specific genre. Journals across the country that had the opportunity to listen to the album a few months ago sensationalized “Que Lloren” as a direct attack on Ivy Queen, but it is so much more than that. We're talking about a direct attack on plastic music, on the manufactured products around (not just within the urban genre) and especially those reggaetoneros hating on Residente and Visitante for damaging the urban genre. Residente goes beyond and tries to lesson its colleagues by defining Urban. Another great highlight is “Ven y Criticame”, a nu-jazzy invitation where we are supposed to criticize them, but it serves as a self conciliation between their ultraego and accomplishment. Superstar Juanes does a very fine job making his guitar cry on “Esto Con Eso” while PG13 is dazzling in the chorus. The intervention of Ruben Blades here is masterful; “La Perla” is seven minutes of celebrating the pueblos and Blades iconic career that keeps taking risks.

An apparent single “Electro Movimiento” is a tricky one; I found it erratic on first listening, but it has quickly become a favorite. It’s Timbaland with edgier personality. The song mentions its will to go back to the 80s to that time Madonna was a virgin and John Travolta was spinning his dance moves, going back to a decade of stability and a generation of dancers that would had been electrified by Calle 13. “Fiesta de Locos” is on fire, a club banger with some great male vs. female chorus, controversially religious and spiced up by the great infectious humor Rene Perez is known for: “I’m sorry if my words are dirty, but my mind is flexible like a Russian gymnast.” The most political song that gives the title to the album is hard on drums to give it a look of army-like force where the barrios are following each other to protest. While “John El Esquizofrenico” is creepier than the perverse innocence view of Guillermo del Toro and Tim Burton combined. It’s a tragic song where Rene Perez and Eduardo Cabra shine at their best. Los De Atras Vienen Conmigo another addition to Calle 13’s league of their own.