Sunday, February 20, 2011

SPIA 104/REPORTE ILEGAL-Mexico DF Archivo del País (Independent, 2010)

Every rapper's wet-dream is to have his voice pressed on a vinyl record so a DJ can scratch with it. Especially in the age of bedroom-produced mixtapes and free downloads, this remains as some sort of milestone achievement in the career of an MC, anyone can get record a song and put it on an MP3 online, so releasing vinyl makes it seem like more "official."
In the case of Spanish language MC's, in particular those in Latin America, this is the ultimate pinnacle that has only been reached by the extremely limited few. Vinyl production in Latin America abruptly ceased in the early '90s--all the pressing plants closed. By the time of Latin American hip-hop's coming off age during the second half of that decade, there were no place left to press vinyl. The very few artists who were lucky enough to get vinyl treatment (Tiro De Gracia, Control Machete, Orishas) had them pressed abroad and only with the backing of a major record label. For independent rap artist of Latin America, vinyl has always been way too far out of their reach.
So, Latin American hip-hop DJ's weren't able to spin their own local artists in their sets, and this was arguably one of the factors that slowed down the development of the scene. Many DJ's were forced to leave vinyl behind and embrace CDJ's which became hugely popular once CD burners for personal computers became accessible. But for those loyal to the vinyl the frustration was monumental. They could just spin rap in English, from the US, and if they wanted rap in Spanish the only available was coming from Spain, not Latin America.
That's why a release like this one here is of such a historic relevance for the Mexican rap scene in particular and for the whole Latin American Spanish rap scene in general (I say Spanish, because unlike the rest of the continent, Brazil kept on pressing local rap vinyl way after the extinction of the format in the rest of the continent). Spia 104, a rapper from Mexico City, from the Reporte Ilegal crew, put this together all by himself, without record label help, and he dedicated the album to the whole Mexico rap scene, as a collective achievement, which totally is. On one side the record has a selection of Reporte Ilegal's classic tunes that cover pretty much their long career since 1998. But the real gold is when you flip the album around: a whole side of DJ tools with sound effects and vocals for scratch, in Spanish, provided by many different local MC's. Finally, Latin American turntablists will be able to scratch and do tricks with punchlines in their own language, using real vinyl!
I'm sure this will have a great reception in the Mexican scene and it will be remembered as a historic landmark. This is a very limited edition, of course, so if you happen to see a copy of this around, don't hesitate to pick it up.

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