Wednesday, February 29, 2012

FRESCOLATE-R.A.P. (Independent, 2012)

As a general rule, I don't discuss digital-only independent releases on this blog. For obvious reasons, first because I favor all vinyl releases, second because there're way too many of these home-made productions being released digitally nowadays and I don't have time or patience to listen to most.  I saw the download link for Frescolate's latest release many times during the past couple of months and I ignored it, for the reasons exposed above, until the other day he caught me in a nice mood and convinced me to click "download" and I even gave it a listen right then, from beginning to end. That's not all, I played it whole twice more on my ipod later that day. 
I've personally known Frescolate since 1997, we were never friends, but we came out from the same scene around the same time so our paths crossed many times. Most of you, however, must have no idea who this guy is, unless you're really deep into Latin American underground rap, or you live in Argentina and you happen to enjoy watching TV. 
So let's start by introducing him. Frescolate is a sort of jack-of-all-trades hip-hop activist and media personality in Argentina. He started as a breakdancer and he dominated that field during the second half of the '90s, being amongst the finalist of every single b-boy battle that took place during that era. I was a judge in many of those battles and rating him was always a hard task. Not only he was a very skillful dancer with the most original moves, he also had a lot of personality on the dancefloor and this showed a lot, sometimes overshadowing his skills. This restless personality later found a better way to express itself when he picked up the mic and started freestyling. In just a couple of years he became one of the best freestylers of the country and he went on to represent Argentina in the first international freestyle-in-spanish competition where he took the first place battling against MCs from all over Latin America and Spain. 
Around that time he became a recurrent guest in many prime-time TV shows in his home-country, not only as a rapper and a b-boy, but also a stand-up comedian. And when he wasn't in front of the cameras on the TV show, he was in front of his webcam posting a gazillion of videos on youtube. Thus, this fame-hungry kid from Burzaco, became the most visible player in the whole Argentine hip-hop scene during much of the past decade and he still reigns supreme in that position. 
However, unfortunately, he has not yet been able to release an album that lives up to his fame. He's a great rapper, with perfect flow and a superlative control over vocabulary. Unlike many rappers out there posing as thug guys, he is not shy or scared of showing his sensitive side and his vulnerability (he wrote a heart-felt ode to his dead mother in this album). He has topics, he has metaphors, he has an infinite arsenal of punch lines. But he lacks a vision of where he wants to take his music and who his audience is, or should be. And that vision can't come from within, from his narcissistic ego, it needs to come from outside. In other words, he desperately needs a good producer to grab him, lock him in a studio and force him to record the album he's able to do but he's not doing. 
Frescolate has mainstream appeal like no one else in the scene. He has the looks and the charisma. He has plenty of mainstream exposure (he was even featured in gossip magazines for dating a famous pop star) and he deeply loves pop culture: his verses are plagued with quotes of The Simpsons, Batman, Dragonball Z... he even dedicates a whole song to his idol, the king of pop, Michael Jackson! But he is still doing all these over underground hop-hop beats and over all it feels like he's only rapping for the tight elite circle of hardcore hip-hop fans and b-boys. 
So he's debated between those two paradigms. His love for the spotlight and popular recognition one one hand. His desperate grasp over underground respect and street-cred on the other. And knowing him like I know him, I can speculate that he would be a lot happier getting more of the first, and he really deserves it. It's almost an insult that an MC of his size and tenure has to give away his album for free on the internet. He should have a major label backing him up with top-notch producers working on his music and he could easily be the Argentine equivalent of Calle 13, getting airplay on commercial radios while still maintaining control over his content. I never thought I'd say this about anybody, but I think Frescolate needs to sell out. 
Anyway, that's only my opinion and knowing him, I know he's probably gonna be pissed off, and insult me. I'm not saying he's bad, I urge everybody to listen to his album, this guys is right there in the Olympus of Spanish-language microphone controllers. I'm just saying he's too good for these underground demos, he should be flying first class and getting his rhymes pressed on wax.

Download it HERE.

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