Babilla, Vico C

EMI Latin, Puerto Rico
Rating: 44
By Carlos Reyes

Sermons dressed as songs, we’ve been there before, but when they meet an emotional over discharged mind, well, it’s easy to jump from the secular to the graphic stylist. Puerto Rico’s classy rapper is back, the influential and now religious-devoted auteur furnished his bloodiest album yet. The iconic Vico C joins that line of in-your-face artists, those whose creations go beyond formulating a theme or putting their mind into songs, they’re so into it they want to change the world. This isn’t a judgment on the honesty of their project, but such pretension only pushes them to exploit the literal, bloody, crude and over-manipulative side of the arts. Not to say Vico C is working on a technique, but he slips quite hard on this one, on a Mel Gibson, Guillermo Arriaga or Paul Haggis level, meaning this is a lyrical disaster. If we keep in mind he self-claims the title of philosopher of the street, careful where you walk.

Desahogo, his last installment, was a great notch of urban elegancy, one socially-conscious but well scoped. Meaning that he was able to get his point across without unnecessary close ups. Babilla is Deasahogo’s exploited cousin, so programmable to impact one would think Vico strikes to make a “Pedro Navaja” out of every song; without the genuineness of an epic tragedy, they end up as explicit dull songs (all within the same disc!). It’s nice to see Vico C arming himself around it, and he is entitled to do so, heck, I’ll be taking with me a couple of his teachings but the beat down was unnecessary. “Babilla” is “Desahogo” all over again, except that instead of predicating about a pen (and its poetics) he angers up with an Xbox (and its content). The culminating seconds of the title track and its entry into the next track is a cruel blood shell, it’s gripping alright, but in the meanest way.

Now, musically, it’s hard to argue Vico C’s beat expertise. On top of that, the guy’s vocals are among the genre’s most precious outlets. Tracks such as “Morire” and “El Silencio Mata” are interesting in their soulful attempt to reconcile reggaeton with preach-chorus dynamics. Let’s say Calle 13’s Visitante wouldn’t mind toe-tapping to the album, “El Corazon Se Pone Bruto” is playful and adventurous. Among the album’s collaborations, Arcangel shows up again, now officially the artist to have on your reggaeton record, as usual, he steals the show. Another of Vico’s right decisions was to keep its tropical fuse intact; “Aqui la que fallo es usted” only works because of it. Need a worst of the year contender? Look no further, “Prueba de Farmacia” featuring La Secta All Star’s Gustavo Laureano is a mess; teen pregnancy isn’t the wrong thing here. Balbilla is provocative, impacting and so muscular on its belief, yet so clumsy and obvious to outshine its cliché tear-provoking excess.