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Rene Perez Joglár, lyricist and frontman for Calle 13, didn’t mean to become a revolutionary icon for Latin America’s youth.
“They try to put stamps on you,” Perez tells Latino USA in a one-on-one interview. “It’s more simple than that. It’s just a normal guy, writing about the things he sees around him.”
Calle 13 began life as a potty-mouthed rap group from Puerto Rico. They gained attention for their alternative take on reggaeton, with a style characterized by over-the-top sexual humor and smart punch lines. Over years and albums, their music became more serious and socially engaged, addressing topics like poverty, migration and social justice in Latin America. Musically, they absorbed influences from traditional and folk sounds from the region.
Now, nine years after their debut, Calle 13 has released their most introspective album yet, titled Multi_Viral. Featuring guest spots from leftist icons Eduardo Galeano, Julian Assange and Silvio Rodriguez, the album touches on a lot of “big ideas”: on the resilience of the human spirit in “El Aguante”, on the ephemeral nature of life and death in “La Vida (Respira el Momento)” and on the power of ideas itself in “Así de Grandes Son las Ideas.”
René Perez sits down with Maria Hinojosa for a an intimate interview about his new album.
Below, listen to the songs we played in this segment: