“Tengo mucho que escribir, y poco papel. Mi honestidad es color transparente”
“I have a lot to write, and very little paper left. My honesty is the color transparency”
These two lyrics encapsulate the greatness that is Calle 13.
Calle 13 is the Puerto Rican band formed by stepbrothers; René Pérez Joglar – who goes by the artist name of Residente. Perez Joglar is lead singer and songwriter for Calle 13 and Eduardo José Cabra who goes by the artist name Visitante, plays the guitar,harmonica, piano, synthesizer, cuatro, accordion, keyboard, banjo, ukulele, violin, organ, kalimba and other instruments.
Pérez and Cabra met in San Juan, PR, and became brothers when Pérez’s mother married Cabra’s father. Even after the stepparents eventually divorced, the boys’ bond remained.
Whenever Cabra went to Calle 13, in the San Juan suburb of Trujillo Alto where his brother lived, he would announce himself to the guard as a Visitante coming to see a Residente. Thus, the mastermind group, “Calle 13” was formed.
People have labeled Calle 13’s music as reggaeton, but the band has tried to distance itself from being pigeon holed to that style.
Although, Residente once admitted the group played reggaeton in their first album to gain popularity.
Calle 13 are mind blowing intelligent wordsmiths that mix poetry and social and political commentary.
Visitante, as a phenomenal professional musician, has featured elements such as bossa nova, salsa, cumbias,tango, electronica, Indian Beats ( Listen to Baile de los Pobres!) and Scottish Beats.
Notably, Calle 13 has won 22 Grammy Awards, more than any other group.
Need a few recommendations on what to listen to first? (or again!)
Check out “Atrévete-te-te” that song won for Best Short Form Music Video.
Or give a listen to “No Hay Nadie como Tu – Feat Cafe Tacuba, that song won for Record of the Year.
My personal favorite, Latinoamerica won for Album of the year. This song is guaranteed to give you Pride, Goosebumps and a sense of Empowerment. With lyrics such as, “ No puedes comprar el sol, No Puedes Comprar la lluvia…No puedes comprar mi vida. La tierra no se vende.” (Translation; You can’t buy the sun. You can’t buy the rain…You can’t buy my life. Land isn’t for sale.”). The song talks about having pride in our homelands and fighting capitalism.
In 2015 Calle 13 had its final concert in Toronto, citing the group being on hiatus indefinitely. Residente however continued his solo career. In 2017 he released his solo album, “Residente”
Do yourself a favor and listen to the first track, “Intro ADN/DNA” with Lin Manuel Miranda. You thought Hamilton had him spittin bars…… In this song, Miranda reveals that Residente and Miranda are Third Cousins!!
In 2019 he released the single, “Bellacoso” with Bad Bunny. Guaranteed to make you shake what your Mami gave ya!
In 2020 he released the single “Rene”.
“This song, titled as his first name (his full name is René Juan Pérez Joglar) is an autobiographical reflection on his life, the challenges he has overcome, and the difficulties he has suffered. The song comes about when at a concert in Mexico in 2018, René had a panic attack and didn’t want to go on stage. He had to call his mother to comfort him”. (Genius Connotation by Genius website.)
In 2020 he released a live version of this song during Quarantine, a la Zoom version. His mother appeared in the video and was visibly moved. ( I promise you.. As will you!) The GOAT himself, Ruben Blades, makes a guest appearance and vocalizes in the end.
Their cheeky and thought provoking lyrics have paved the way for a new style of music. Whether it’s your first time or your 100th time listening to these songs, Calle 13 and the genius of Residente is undeniably one of the greatest Pride and Joys of Latino America. Their music and messages are bound to make you aware of social issues as well as explore your personal growth. You won’t be disappointed!