El Negrito Dun Dun & Ricardo, Los Rakas
Universal Music Latino, Panama
by Pierre Lestruhaut
"It's not what the pussy can do for you, but what you can do for the pussy" claims Mickey Rourke’s character in his own apotheosizing speech in Jonas Akerlund's forgettable film Spun. The speech, it seems, is essentially what the new Los Rakas album is about. Hardly 10 minutes after hitting play and you already start to see what you're in for: a massive, head-over-heels, unhindered cult to the almighty pussy (and thus, we assume, pussy-fucking). But rest assured, Dun Dun and Ricardo do keep it all relatively old-fashioned and non-explicit, steering clear of a potential parental advisory label in their own quixotic quest for pussy.
Immediately after the borderline braggadocio intro kicks off the album, "Demencia y Locura" drops a killer subbass, and then goes on a tale that is basically about the power of musicianship as a pussy magnet. "Así me gusta" is reminiscent of "Bandz a Make Her Dance" but without the exploitative ambience of strip clubs, rather focusing on female dancing as a sensual art form. "X-Tacy" doesn't adhere to the Rick Ross school of using molly as a backdoor aphrodisiac, but rather as a parallel between the effects of the drug and the influence a woman can have. It's like these guys actually have moral standards: They are the victims of the pussy here. Get just one taste of it and you are subject to the whims and wishes of the omnipotent vagina.
"Africana" feels like their new not-so-successful attempt at hitting that perfect spot between dancehall-influenced romantic songwriting and heartbroken rapping that Big Boy had found some 20 years ago, and that Los Rakas themselves brought up to date with their hit "Abrázame" back in 2010. It's followed by a short-lived attempt at bringing back the previously quite common subject of their own Latin origins. A cappella number “Mi País” does a quick shout out to the homies, and “Sueño Americano” goes into sociopolitical territory, touching on the themes of immigrant exclusion in the USA, although it doesn't have the vivid imagery of Kap G's "Fuck La Policía," nor the all-encompassing ambition of The-Dream's recent “BLACK.”
The album's last run is essentially a deviation towards crowdpleasing chart-topping dance-pop. “Periódico de ayer” and “X-Tacy” seem to draw heavily from Eurodance, and places the duo much closer to current Latin pop stars that have been riding the Eurodance wave, and pretty far away from the independent hip-hop they proudly claimed to be part of a few years ago. “Malibú Girl” sounds like it was dusted from the lost archives of late 90's early 00's french house, while “Siente la Música” seems to have been written by a soulless machine that orders club goers to dance till dawn.
One would like to think that the shift from their own trademarked Panabay twist towards average everyday contemporary club songs is in no way correlated to the fact they've gone from being independent artists to being signed with Universal Music, but there's not much evidence to refute that. Their Chancletas y Camisetas Bordadas EP succeeded not only because it was sonically inventive and accomplished (the folkloric tones of “Camisetas Borda,” the cosmopolitan urbanism in “Ta Lista”), but also for how it felt extremely personal in its depiction of family, gials, and identity. If anything, El Negrito Dun Dun & Ricardo feels like a talented hip-hop duo that's sacrificing personal vision for commercial success. And maybe, just as well, for pussy.