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Various Artists

Noches de Hip-Hop

(Immergent; US: 15 Nov 2005; UK: 20 Feb 2006)

Some Pretty Good Songs

This is an okay collection of Latin hip-hop. It won’t change the world, nor is it especially enlightening, but it’s a perfectly serviceable comp if you’re just learning about rap en español.

Like all compilations, this has its low and high points. Usually, comps like this are packed with artists that try to sound like “regular” hip-hop tracks, which usually just sounds dull. But there is only one of these here, and it’s actually pretty dope. L.A.‘s Crooked Stilo and Milwaukee’s Kinto Sol (which now says it’s from “Chicago”, which is a sell-out move but whatevz) are pretty similar, so they sound great teaming up for “Kigo”. Not surprisingly, though, the worst songs here are by acts trying to emulate “cool” Latin boy bands like Kumbia Kings, because that’s exactly what is achieved by Detane and Flow Click here. (Except I’ll give a pass to the latter’s song “Porqué Estas Aquí”, because of the hot accordion work.)

Better are the many tracks that actually try to combine authentic Latin styles with hip-hop beats and/or delivery. Remo the Blaxican has the best name here and two of the best tracks: “La Receta” has a nice crisp mariachi thing happening, whereas “Ruido” is both smooth (the groove) and rough (his aggressive delivery). And it’s awesome to hear the way Bimbo do reggaetón fusion well with “Lento”, although his relentless “A Lo Mariachi” just sounds a bit too much like the awesomely great Mexican act Control Machete used to, back when they had Fermin IV.

It’s fun to hear the great Mellow Man Ace (remember “Mentirosa”? that was the JAM back in the day, yo) continue his comeback with the semi-salsa “Mujeres-Benzes”. Malverde’s Cuban take on “Oye Mami” is cute if a bit lightweight. My favorite moment here comes halfway through Adicto’s “Oye Mamacita”—apparently, there are only about five titles in all of Latin hip-hop—when it switches from slighly ho-hum lover-boy style to something a little cooler, anchored by rapper J2 Beatz.

Overall, this is great if you don’t know anything about Latin rap. But if you’ve ever heard truly earthshakingly weird awesome work by Chingo Bling or Yolanda Perez or Control Machete or Tego Calderón or [insert one hundred more acts here please], then you probably should just go with that.

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