Video: Juan Molina - “Sin Guía, No”

If you call yourself a movie fan you’ve probably made your best effort to visit your city’s art house to see Jonathan Glazer’s masterful Under The Skin. Beautiful in all its abstraction, it will probably take a while before any other visual assault confronts you as deeply. Juana Molina’s latest clip for  “Sin Guía, No” (single off Wed21) shares a great deal of the themes (desire, ritual, disobedience) and visual techniques (the forest as a character in the narrative) used in Under The Skin. Except that, unlike what happens in the film, “Sin Guía, No” maintains its characters grounded –and at human level. This is a coming-of-age story at the grace of folk magic. “Filmed in Tierra de Fuego, and inspired by the Hain initiation cermonies of the Selk’nam people,” reads the clip’s premise. Director Dr. Sepian keeps his scope open for universal absorption, and although the clip could do without the mockingly dance around the fire, the clip redeems itself beautifully in its waterfall, aerial, and cleansing conclusion.

Video: Arufe - "Dinosaurio"

Why Bflecha’s “Mundo Bizarro” isn’t part of a product's transnational marketing campaign by now is surprising. The catchiest and most straightforwardly pop number in Beta served from Arufe’s thriving assistance, offering the track a mysticism and luxurious lush that made the pop structure that more effective. Arufe has our attention now. His latest single “Dinosaurio” is quite a revelation, and far from a pop structure subscription. The Spaniard rapper approaches Paleontology in a quirky, exaggerated tone driven by pop culture references. The music video in charge of Priscina Infinita first plays with negative space, quickly transforming the minimalistic frame into a meta-visual platform. The clip starts with a Jurassic Park blanket taking shape into the dreams of the rapper. The narrative never gives up, flourishing animation with little restraint. Something about him rapping about Madonna and condensed milk in the same minute shows Arufe stretching his lyrical discourse a bit too much, but he’s doing it with plenty of wit and charm.

Kap G - Like a Mexican

Like a Mexican, Kap G
Independiente, USA
Rating: 78
by Pierre Lestruhaut

The debut mixtape from Kap G, 19-year-old Atlanta-based Latino rapper, starts with words from DJ Drama: “One thing about the rap game that’s always respected is authenticism.” It might sound like the old maxim that prophesizes how music should be judged mainly on its realness, yet no matter how many thinkpieces get regurgitated about the conflicts of authenticism in art; you can always grasp flashes of authenticism in the details. The best street life rap albums, from Illmatic to The Luca Brasi Story, are the ones that carry the vivid imagery you only get from living that kind of life. Rest assured, Like A Mexican is no Illmatic, but it’s the promise and first step of a rapper whose depiction of street, family, and party life, carries the rough and rich storytelling that’s usually the imprint of good rap.

Kap G starts the mixtape wailing like Waka Flocka Flame, but instead of yelling about getting fucked up with "killers and hood niggas," he yells "pesos, pesos, pesos," and "Qué pasa homes." He’s got the mastery of dropping pop culture references that will prompt a smile on rap nerds who love Paul’s Boutique for the same reason. In “Eddie Guerrero” he raps about what he’s willing to do to get paper, which we can guess has to be related to the deceased wrestler’s catchprase: "I Lie! I Cheat! I Steal!." Then in “That Paper” he states of how he has no problems "kicking bitches out" in the morning, despite how much they love him. He’s still a man of values though, as he recognizes in "La Familia," in which he shows the sort of respect and loyalty to those that are blood-related to him that would certainly make Tío Salamanca proud.

Even if lyrically it seems to have been made in the US-Mexico border, sonically this has Atlanta’s imprints all over it. What initially hits you while listening to the mixtape, is just how extremely well surrounded Kap G is. There's beats provided by the likes of Bangladesh, Pharrell (yes Pharrell), and Drumma Boy, and guest spots by Wiz Khalifa, Young Jeezy. But it’s the production that’s particularly admirable. Bangladesh is responsible for the first two beats and not only drops the most club-trashing ones but also adds a few samples (the danzón-like horns) that fit in with the “Like A Mexican” concept. With that exception though, it’s all about the same bombastic Southern rap and trap-hop production that’s been the backdrop for Atlanta's best songs these past few years. Squat Beats’ psychedelic synth lines in “R.I.P.” and “Fuck la Policía (FLP)” provide the mixtape’s best moments for pure aural bliss, and it's also when Kap G is at his best on the mic.

The young Atlanta rapper has the slow-paced flow of Rich Homie Quan in “Type of Way,” one that’s more focused on catchiness than lyrical prowess. It’s rapping that’s delivery-driven, and he sounds so drowsy and stoned in some songs that you can even see the smoke clouds that were probably circling the studio during the recording sessions. Even if he abuses Latino slang and cultural references a little too much, making it feel occasionally like the rap industry is attempting to connect with US Latinos, he can also go from hilarious when speaking of his preference of sex over romance ("Mami please don’t give me beso/I just want some good cabeza") to highly critical and poignant when verging towards social commentary on being a descendant of immigrants in the US ("So the cops pulled me over say the windows too tinted/Basically saying that my ‘migos ain't from here," "And my bro tatted up they think he MS13"). Even if the mixtape is a success mainly because Kap G has managed to acquire a top-notch set of supporting guests and producers, at such a young age he's got the delivery and shout-along hooks that make his peers right in placing such trust and hopes in him.

Juan Wauters - N.A.P. North American Poetry

N.A.P. North American Poetry, Juan Wauters
Captured Tracks, USA
Rating: 82
by Souad Martin-Saoudi 

While N.A.P. North American Poetry was released last February, I must admit I needed some time to absorb all of the earnestness emanating from this epigrammatic record. So I listened and re-listened to Juan Wauters' first solo LP. When it comes to achieving true simplicity -one that can only be attained by gathering, digesting and unifying the infinite complexities of human reasoning, the Jackson Heights-based fellow with the nasal vocals and minimalist guitar arrangements has become an expert. After several listens, his "collection of 12 songs about the coldness of winter and the warmth of a scratch-off nickel," which were all recorded at Gary Olson's Marlborough Farms studio between 2010 and 2012, uncovers the songwriter’s proficiency to understand and expose complex situations with an idiosyncratic lyricism that remains engaging.

"I don’t like you, you’re a fool" shouts Wauters on album opener "Let Me Hip You To Something," after a discrete soaring guitar takeoff. The chuckle-inducing statement can offend upon first hearing, but in a way it calls into question whether he sings it in order to keep us, as a society, on our toes, aware, and truly present. Beneath his offhand irony, The Beets frontman bares a purity of conception that either excites or puts off. And so Wauters makes his way through and underneath the layers of our conscious minds, one moment with the genuine urgency of "Sanity or Not" and a moment later with the soothing bongo beat of the jaunty and Rollingstonesque "Lost in Soup." JW’s three-chord art punk provides a solid vessel for his thoughts on overconformity and the alienation of modern humanity. "Escucho Mucho" builds in a dreamy-jangly rhythm guitar to lines like "Soy un soldado, no estoy domado, a otro soldado quiero matar, pero no puedo, no tengo dedo apretar gatillo y matar." The hazy and drifting "Woke Up Feeling Like Sleeping," with its quieter strumming guitar, maracas and voiceover embodies Wauters’ aesthetic, one that’s weirdly attractive.

His art excels with the contemplative "Water," whose words ("Do I belong, who is it that I am, what is it that I'm for") and music video (shot in Montevideo by longtime collaborator Matthew Voltz) create a sense that we have dropped in on a moment that has not stopped to exist because of our incursion. We can even catch a sight of two of Wauters musical idols Chicos Eléctricos’ Nico Barcia and singer songwriter Ruben Rada. Amanda Rodi’s flute on “Goo” and Carmelle Safdie’s (Beachniks) vocals on "Breathing" and "How Do They All Do?" envelop the confessional lyrics and JW’s slacker drawl with a fuller sensorial experience. Like a playful and spirited choir, the duet formed by Wauters and Safdie (a more fun and spirited version of Reed/Nico tandem), proves to be curiously effective as the vocal alternation channels Wauters’ vulnerability without becoming mawkish. "Continue To Be You" offers a different kind of thrill as lines from the opening track: “Get a headache yeah, take medicine yeah, get better yeah, to another headache, oh yeah” are repeated as a mantra to bring us to full realization.

N.A.P. North American Poetry (out via Captured Tracks) closes with a rough but spirited cover of Los Piojos "Ay Ay Ay". The pressing guitar arrangements on this song are about someone who strives to survive outside of an alienating society, but inevitably comes back to it -giving it greater depth. Patti Smith in Just Kids explained that “to be an artist was to see what others could not.” Juan Wauters does precisely that: managing to hold the listener spellbound with few chords and a feeling. The candor and artisanal approach of his collection of thoughts permeates the ordinary to better transcend it.