Monday, December 13, 2010
CUARTO PODER-In Tha House (Nacional Records, 2010)
The thing is yeah, the production sounds dated but the worst aging damage is done by that horrible cover photo and graphic design and that title... you guys, I wanna be nice, I like your rap, I really do, but you just can't name your album "In Tha House" and not expect people to make fun of you. C'mon! What is this? 1992?
It's like a bad flashback to that dark era when being hip-hop in Latin America meant "copy every cliché of US rap, even if you don't quite understand it." Everybody outside the hip-hop scene used to look down on us for such naivety, like "look at these poor fools trying to impersonate American rappers because they think that makes them look cool." I'm the first one to admit, I was part of that. Back in 1992 I used to go by LT Cream, yeah, that was my MC name! You can make fun of me all you want. But you know what? We (and I refer collectively to the whole continental movement) outgrew that stage way over a decade ago. We're not toys (to quote another dated old school slang) anymore. Hip-hop in Latin America developed into its own unique thing, a lot more than just a mockery of whatever they played on MTV done by kids who wished they were born in the Bronx instead. And now, in the post-Calle 13 era, when rap in Spanish finally acquired its much deserved credibility as an art-form outside the tight circles of the scene, and you can have dope artists like Anita Tijoux running for a Grammy, releasing an album with a wack title like that, is like pushing back all the advancements of recent years to the pre-Control Machete era.
And what really pisses me off about this is that due to that combination of bad album cover and title a lot of people will skip a release that is not at all bad (I know for sure if I had run into this while browsing at a record store I would've averted my eyes and moved on to the next one right away, probably dismissing this as a cheap reggaetón mixtape or some Poyecto Uno wannabes and it would've never gotten a chance to land into my CD player). The truth is that these guys can really rap, they have perfect flow, they make a catchy fusion with reggae (I particularly loved that track with Morodo, and the "Arenita Playita" song has been on my DJ sets since 2007) and they can deliver dope battle rhymes for the hip-hop heads as well ("Mala Leche" is also one of my favorites).
I guess there's probably a story behind that unwise selection of cover design and titling and I bet you I'll be receiving an e-mail from Nacional Records regarding that the moment I push publish. But in the meantime I'm nominating this for the worst album art and worst album title for the 2010 Hard Data Awards.