8) Calle 13 on Reggaeton

As mentioned in my previous post, Calle 13 is a group that, although fallible as all of us are, has used its influence to try and inspire action and critical thought, and deserves recognition among revolutionary circles for this.


The first issue to cover is the uninformed view that Calle 13 is part of the predominantly meaningless and vacuous genre of reggaeton. While they initially used the dembow rhythm of this popular style to get their music into the public domain, it seems now like that was a conscious technique used to gain popular recognition. In fact, it soon became very clear that Residente was very critical of the meaningless lyrics and violent gangster imagery often used in the genre. He also clearly sees it as an expression that has been bought into by record companies, who have in turn homogenised and controlled the sound just as they began to do with mainstream rap in the 90s.


In the song, “Algo Con Sentido”, in which he speaks as a psychopath, he says towards the end of the song:

“Mis neuronas ya están en función,                        (My neurones are working perfectly well)

Voy decidido a fusilar el reggaetón”                        (I’ve decided to destroy reggaeton!)


However, the most serious criticisms of the genre came in the track “Que Lloren”, in which Residente responded to the reguetoneros who criticised him with the following lines:


“Te cogió de pendejo una disquera                 (A record company took you for an idiot)
Y tienes a un manejador                                 (And you have a manager)
Robándote el 20% de toda tu carrera”                        (Stealing 20% of your earnings)


“Tú eres un producto enlatado”                       (You’re a manufactured product)


“Gracias a que eres un bruto colgao               (Because you’re such a fool)
Con un tercer grado de estudio                       (Who only reached third grade)
Las rimas no te dan ni para un interludio”       (The rhymes you write aren’t even enough for an



“Es muy facil ser esclavo de la industria          (It’s very easy to be a slave to the industry)
Navegando a favor de la marea”                     (And swim with the tide)


“Yo deletreo sobre todo lo que me rodea        (I speak about everything that surrounds me)
No le llames loco al que,                                 (Don’t call the person who,)

Para decir la verdad, nunca gaguea”              (In order to speak the truth, never censures himself, crazy)


Reguetoneros no lo tomen personal             (Reguetoneros, don’t take it personally)

Esto es pa’ que te motives                              (This is to motivate you)

Tampoco te estoy tirando a ti                          (Nor am I dissing you)

Le estoy tirando al que te escribe                  (I’m dissing the one who writes your lyrics)

Pues mi lengua no discrimina                        (My tongue doesn’t discriminate)

Entre dúos, reyes Y divas                                (Between duos, kings, or divas)

A todos los voy a tratar                                    (I’m gonna treat you all)

Con la misma saliva”                                       (With the same saliva)


“Tú eres un maleante – pura candela             (You’re a thug – a big, tough guy)

Detrás de un cristal ahuma’o y                       (Behind you’re tinted windows)

30 guardaespaldas que no fueron a la escuela” (And 30 bodyguards who didn’t finish school)

“Forra’o con prendas de oro                           (Weighed down with jewellery)

De la cabeza hasta el talon                             (From head to toe)
Sin saber que por cade eslabón                      (Without knowing that, for each piece,)

Mueren miles en Sierra León                          (Thousands die in Sierra Leone)
Mi música no es                                              (My music isn’t)

Para las discotecas                                         (for the clubs)
Mi música es para sembrar una semilla          (My music aims to sow a seed)

En un par de cabezas huecas”                        (In a few empty heads)


These criticisms of the violence, ignorance, and materialism present in reggaeton, as in other styles of popular music, go firmly against the grain of lyrical content in the mainstream of the music industry. Equally, there are few artists who speak out against the practices of record companies and the lack of artistic integrity present in the industry today.


Que Lloren – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6BEWsUmX8s

Algo Con Sentido – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KM2Kf2xcHB8


About Ed Sykes

Independent journalist. Co-founder of Phoenix Media Co-operative. Author of Rojava: An Alternative. Ex-Canary editor and writer (2015-2020). Aka 'Oso Sabio' - see @ososabiouk on Twitter.
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1 Response to 8) Calle 13 on Reggaeton

  1. Pingback: Calle 13: The Ayotzinapa Case Is a Disgrace | Resistance Is Fertile

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