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Political MC reminds us that “Todos Somos Residεntәs”


El Güido
Fotos: Piero F. Giunti Oct 12, 2018

On the same day that Kanye West had a working lunch with the racist orange beast that currently inhabits the White House, Puerto Rican emcee Residεntә headlined his biggest solo show in Hollywood, the city where many come in droves hoping to make their dreams come true.

This tour is a live manifestation of his eponymous Grammy-winning album that was born after René (Residεntә) took a DNA test. He traveled for two years to various countries that he had DNA traces from to create & record this ambitious conceptual masterpiece that has an accompanying documentary that you should definitely watch- if you haven’t yet-. This tour is not just his solo material that he showcases but classic Calle 13 anthems that he’s penned that are reworked with exceptional multi-cultural instrumentation by his stellar live band.

The night was started by Honduran producer, prolific beatmaker & longtime collaborator, Trooko who traveled & recorded around the world with René. He is the producer for the album Residεntә and responsible for all the programming and beats as well. They both won the Grammy for Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album earlier this year. Trooko is also known for giving us some fiery remixes of Ibeyi & Alt-J, the latter featuring another dope PR emcee, PJ Sin Suela whom you definitely need to hear.

The iconic Hollywood Palladium was jarred by Trooko’s gritty set that seamlessly went from Cardi B to The Prodigy and dubstep, making many of the attendees twerk with glee and anticipation to the main act. The venue’s soundsystem could barely keep up with Trooko’s mastery of mixing genres while getting the crowd hyped.

The audience grew antsy as they waited for the band to hit the stage. As it got closer to 10 p.m. there was still no sign of them. As the first note of “Somos Anormales” began, Residεntә voraciously took the stage to a sea of phones that lessened as folks got lost in the music and energy that both him and his amazing band were serving.

In between songs, Residεntә explained that there was a street closure and that the cops wouldn’t let him get to the venue. He then went on to explain his album’s recording process in English & Spanish making sure everyone could understand what he was saying, but still joking with non-Spanish speakers that they should learn Spanish too.

The live band -which I can’t praise enough for their astonishing musicianship- provided the canvas for Residεntә to paint like Pollock with his words, using his mic as a paintbrush. The stunning visuals featured lyrics and images that added to the overall impact of the conceptual songs. Right before playing the heavily political, “Calma Pueblo”, he talked about the fakeness of the recording industry and how numbers don’t make us relevant, people are what makes us relevant.

“People have souls” he stated as the guitar began to wail. The militancy in his performance felt more urgent and poignant given our current political times. It was very reminiscent to the cathartic anger and release one would experience at a Rage Against The Machine show. Here was a space where you could dance, yell, hug strangers, twerk and shake off the bad vibes that we’ve all been bombarded with lately. He dedicated “Pal Norte” to immigrants and said “Todos somos Residεntәs.”

At one point he urged folks to put away their phones and enjoy the now. He asked them to hug the person next to them and to remember we are all one race, as him and the band went on to play cumbia-punk versions of Calle 13 hits. It was like a sweat lodge where all the attendees jumped along when instructed to and shook off all the bad they had been carrying. Cholos, woke folks, hip-hop heads, reggaetonerxs, music lovers and everyone in between, all got down as the songs went from one to the other providing us the music we needed to escape our problems.

There are few emcees that can unite people the way Residεntә does. Where else can you bust your cumbiambero moves and twerk while celebrating the Latinx identity in the presence of one of the best lyricists around?

Just before playing the anthem, Latinoamerica, he dedicated the song to the 80% of continent that is not represented when people say “America”... when they really mean the U.S. He donned a flag of the Americas as a cape and said:

“This song is for you, to travel back to your countries and to remind you of your grandma’s cooking and your roots that have never left you. It’s important to play this song even here in the U.S. because it’s for everyone.”

The intro featured a beautiful guitar solo that fittingly included a snippet of “Un Mundo Raro.” By then, the pride of being Latinx in the United States had permeated the venue and the chants of “Vamos caminando…” could almost be heard in Latin America.

It was an incredible night where dreams did come true for Residεntә and Trooko, who headlined the iconic Hollywood venue. The 2 hours that Residεntә played for was a purifying experience where the sweat of the attendees blended and connected with the sweat of those working the “cañaverales” & fields worldwide, along with those immigrants who left their countries in pursuit of a better life, even with the hot dog & bootleg t-shirt vendors just outside.

It was a bond created with a global perspective that only Residεntә can create with his DNA, art & music. It was evident that “Todos Somos Residεntәs” and we truly are a reflection of the music we seek to uplift our souls, connect with others and create memories we’ll never forget, like the countries we and our parents come from.

This is something other rappers and emcees wish they could do. This is the power that hip-hop music and concerts have on us when used correctly, unlike that other MAGA-wearing rapper that has lost his way... but I’m grateful we have Residεntә to help us navigate and illuminate the dark and surreal times we have ahead.

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