TALENTO DE BARRIO Daddy Yankee, Puerto Rico
by: Carlos Reyes
El Cangri comes back with an ambitious soundtrack for his movie Talento de Barrio (Jose Ivan Santiago, 2008), currently breaking box office records in Puerto Rico. We don’t deny the fact that Yankee changed the Latin urban scene at the right moment with the very solid Barrio Fino (2004). Expectations for his second major production were simply shooting for the heavens, and El Cartel: The Big Boss (2007) was not only disappointing, but a hurtful artistic breakdown. Raymond Ayala (Yankee’s true name) doesn’t strive for extreme music explorations or even contemplation lyrics, but we’re thankful he opened doors and windows for other majestic discoveries such as Arcangel or Calle 13 (although they are not reggaeton).
The expectations for this soundtrack were low and he did not only surpass them but has evolved his music; from the generic repetitious beat of reggaeton to an urban with electronic fuse. Not in the lines of Timbaland yet, but in the same league of the great American rapper T.I. Yankee has joined forces with two promising producers Musicologo & Menes, bringing stability to the round project, something that his previous album didn’t even try to achieve. First single “Pose” feels miles away from his work produced by Luny Tunes, and it might just be the very best single he has ever released. “Soy la evolución, la revolución, the big big boss!, el mejor de todos los tiempos ya tu lo sabes.” Let’s admire his guts to call himself the best Latino MC of all time, too bad that’s not a fact at all. Sardonically today’s best hispanic MC is indeed featured in his album.
Talento de Barrio features two of the most acclaimed reggaetoneros today, Randy & Arcángel. Ironically, both young artists hate each other and irritate one another through the deliciously offensive ‘tirarea’; this is a great opportunity for both to decently showcase their best attributes. “Salgo Pa’ La Calle” featuring Randy is the only track produced by Luny Tunes, and it does feel like an alien. In the other hand, Arcángel ‘La Maravilla’ shines once again in the infectious “Pasion.” Another notable track has to be “Candela”, the kind of song where the tables are turned and the producers make the standout, thankfully Yankee gives them out loud credit.
Reggaeton albums have adopted the idea of producing too many songs in one single disc. This only adds the chances for the desperate refills. And there we have a lineup of lazy tunes that do nothing for the album, not even prospecting commercial success. “De la paz y de la guerra” tries to hard to be figurative, “Infinito” is a disaster, and “Suelta” just feels like a recycled collection of the genre’s cliché. Suddenly, we find gold once again with “Somos de Calle; a song that may just become an anthem to those artists belonging to the streets because it made them who they are. Think of it as a new seasoned hybrid version of “Lean Back” by Fat Joe.
As a true cinephile, I can’t help criticizing the lack of instrumental themed pieces; this is a movie soundtrack after all. Soundtracks are parallel visions to the cinematic product, it’s sad, but they can’t have their own mind and they shouldn’t be walking around lonely. I don’t mind the integration of songs, in fact I enforce it, but knowing that the film lacks the key resource of musical composition, it just looses charm. Talento de Barrio is nonetheless a better than average urban album, expect a healthy path for some of the catchy songs. Definitely a worthy comeback for the island’s most popular artist.