By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
On its self-titled 2005 debut, Puerto Rican duo Calle 13 was hilarious—and musically innovative too, with vocalist Residente's lyrics poking fun at every aspect of contemporary Latin culture while his cousin Visitante's beats combined reggaeton, hip-hop and funk into a swirling, irresistible groove. Last year's follow-up Residente o Visitante was more thoughtful, guest-heavy and musically broad-minded; if it occasionally stumbled into arty pastiche, overall it was a surefooted, politically aware next step.
Calle's new effort, Los de Atrás Vienen Conmigo (translation: The Ones Left Behind Are Coming With Me), is more fun than its predecessor, with Café Tacuba and Ruben Blades as the big-ticket guests this time. And though his vulgarity remains unrestrained, Residente's apparently sick of being Latin culture's whipping boy: "Que Lloren" and "Ven y Critícame" are direct responses to critics from within the reggaeton scene and outside. (The chorus of "Que Lloren" translates "I love it when they cry"; the latter's title means "Come and Criticize Me.")
Combining the fun of its debut with the follow-up's sonic adventurism, Conmigo is a genre-redefining—if not genre-shattering—triumph. Formerly Latin music's court jesters, Calle 13 have become its future kings.
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