Wednesday, November 25, 2009

SFDK - Siempre Fuertes 2 (SFDK Records, '09)

Aw, more hip-hop nostalgia... I was just talking about going back to '99 in my previous post and then, wham! SFDK drops this bomb!
I remember very clearly that afternoon of '99 when I went to Apolo Novax (of Koxmoz) appartment to listen to a CD he had recently received, SFDK's debut album, Siempre Fuertes.
At that point we didn't know much about this duo from Sevilla, but we agreed on something, 1) they had some kick-ass lyrics, 2) the voice of the MC sucks, seems too unreal, 3) the guests shine more than the hosts, specially two of those guests: a new girl by the name of La Mala María (later known for her last name, Rodríguez) and Violadores del Verso front-man Kase-O. Ten years later I can still remember every syllable pronounced by those two guests in their mind-blowing verses; I have quoted them so many times...
Later in 2003, when SFDK released their third album, 2001 Odisea En El Lodo, I finally got to meet them personally during their short visit to Los Angeles, CA to promote it (even though it was never released here). Oh man, we had some great times digging at Amoeba Records and walking around Venice Beach (I even have a short cameo in their 2007 documentary DVD Black Book shot during that walk). 2001 Odisea En El Lodo is, until this day, their very best album and if you ask me, one of the top 5 hip-hop albums ever recorded in the Spanish language worldwide. By then the MC, Zatu, had left behind his embarrassingly exaggerated vocal tone of the beginnings and found comfort in rhyming with his real voice and both lyrics and beats were at the highest peak of creativity and skills. As a whole, the albums is the closest you could expect to perfection, with no filler tracks and wisely selected collaborations. That was the album that put SFDK where they are now, at the very top of the Spanish hip-hop scene with a well deserved (and hard to achieve) combination of commercial success (while being independent) and respect from the hardcore b-boys.
In 2009, for their sixth LP, SFDK decided to look back to their origins and pay homage to their debut album by releasing a second part, Siempre Fuertes 2. More than a marketing scheme, or an intent to copy Jay-Z's Blueprint 2, 3..., this is actually a reference to movie sequels, something that Zatu, a confessed fan (and collector) of Hollywood cinema has made more than excplicit in many of his songs. So, Siempre Fuertes 2 is not them trying to be the SFDK of Siempre Fuertes all over again, or to update the style and topics from back then, instead is a continuation (and even at times a critical exploration of their roots).
Does it work? Yes, most of the time. Zatu's rhymes and Acción Sánchez beats are always tight, no doubt. But after a while, it got a little bit repetitive. Many concepts that I've already heard before... Plus there are a few tracks that absolutely suck, "El" with All Day Green, "El Séquito" (worst chorus ever!) and particularly "Vívelo" with Pinnacle Rockers (this one is just plain horrible, reminds me of commecial reggaetón in both the production and the singing).
But besides those mistakes, the album over all is still great, with some instant classics that all SFDK fans will love like the battle track "Vs." the single "S.E.V.I.L.L.A." and "30" and it's way better than almost anything else in Spanish rap.
If you never listened to SFDK, I suggest you start with Odisea En El Lodo, Los Veteranos or 2005 instead. If you already know them, you know what to expect and you definitely want this to complete your collection. And all of you fuckers who look down on Spanish rap because it's all ignorant and "ghetto" but like Calle 13 "because of their smart lyrics," do yourself a favor and listen to Zatu who kicks Residente's ass all the way from Spain to Puerto Rico.

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