This Week On Alt.Latino: Mala Rodriguez Shares Her Music And Influences

La Mala Rodriguez. i i
courtesy of the artist
La Mala Rodriguez.
courtesy of the artist

English / Spanish

Mala Rodriguez considers herself a poet first and foremost. "Because that's what rap is, right? It's rhythm and poetry," she says. She's an unapologetic word artist whose rhymes both enthrall and terrorize. In her song "Niña," about a female drug dealer in Madrid, she sings one of the most haunting lyrical refrains I've ever heard: "Te llaman/Te llaman/Teléfono no deja de sonar" (They call you/They call you/The phone won't stop ringing).

Her refrains and choruses exhibit the same kind of quejido, or cry of pain, as the most soul-shattering flamenco songs. One of our listeners described her as a mujerona, an extremely strong woman who broke the mold. We think the word Rodriguez used to describe the epic Spanish singer Martirio, "fiera" (fierce), best captures her own essence.

I think so much of her encanto — or enchanting personality — is the fact that she's not afraid of her own darkness. Born Maria Rodriguez, "Mala" was a nickname coined by an aunt to describe her niece's tendency to make mischief. And rather than hide behind the negative connotations of the word, she told us that she found within it a kind of power.

Her strength comes through in expertly spun verses, but when we interviewed her, everyone on our team was also struck by her profound subtlety. She doesn't talk too loudly. She doesn't talk over people. But once she's made a point, it stays with you. She's one of those people who says something and you think, "Wow, I've had feelings like that before, but I've never been able to put them into words so effortlessly."

If you speak Spanish, do take a listen to the version of the show we recorded in her native language. You'll note something very interesting and very beautiful. On display in this podcast are three extremely distinct accents: the Italian-influenced Argentine speech of Jasmine Garsd, the courteous, warm Mexican-American constructions of Felix Contreras and the unmistakable, crisp Andalucian accent that emanates from Rodriguez herself. It makes me think of something Rodriguez said, that she doesn't want to pigeonhole herself and say she only listens to reggaeton, or jazz, or Chano Dominguez. No — she listens to music, and she makes music for all kinds of people. Alt.Latino is a show that serves the same purpose, and we're happy that the range of voices in today's show reflects that diversity.

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English / Spanish

Esta Semana En Alt.Latino: Invitada Especial Mala Rodriguez

Spanish rapper Mala Rodriguez. i i

hide captionSpanish rapper Mala Rodriguez.

Courtesy of the artist
Spanish rapper Mala Rodriguez.

Spanish rapper Mala Rodriguez.

Courtesy of the artist

Ante todo Mala Rodriguez se considera una poeta. Porque según ella, de eso se trata el rap: es rima y poesía. Es una artista que no se disculpa, cuyas rimas son cautivantes y a la vez aterrorizadoras. En su canción Niña, sobre una demasiado joven vendedora de drogas en Madrid, canta uno de los versos mas escalofriantes que he escuchado: "Te llaman/Te llaman/Teléfono no deja de sonar."

Sus versos y coros tienen el mismo tipo de profundo dolor que las canciones de flamenco. Uno de nuestros oyentes la describió como una "mujerona", una mujer fuerte y sin igual. En esta entrevista Rodriguez usó la palabra "fiera" para describir a otra cantante española, la legendaria Martirio, y nosotros pensamos que esa palabra también sirve para describir a La Mala.

Parte del encanto de La Mala es el hecho de que no le tiene miedo a su lado oscuro. Nació María Rodriguez, y nos cuenta que recibió el apodo de "Mala" de una tía, ya que era una niña muy traviesa. En vez de esconderse detrás de lo negativo de la palabra, nos cuenta que encontró en ella fuerza.

En parte la fuerza de La Mala se ubica en sus versos, tejidos lingüísticos excéntricos y bellos. Sin embargo, cuando la entrevistamos, a todo nuestro staff le sorprendió su profunda sutileza. No habla demasiado fuerte. No interrumpe a la gente. Solo dice las cosas una vez, y con eso basta. Es una de esas personas que te dice algo, y piensas: "Wow, he sentido eso antes, pero nunca pude expresarlo así de fácilmente."

Si hablan español, por favor escuchen la versión del show que grabamos en su idioma natal. Notarán algo muy interesante y bello. Tres acentos muy distintos: el hablar argentino (influenciado por ritmos lingüísticos italianos) de Jasmine Garsd, el cálido tono mexicano-americano de Felix Contreras, y el inigualable, firme y sensual acento andaluz de Rodriguez. Me hace pensar en algo que Rodriguez nos dijo, y es que no quiere encasillarse a si misma y decir que solo escucha reggaeton, o jazz, o Chano Domingez. No- ella escucha música, y hace música para todo tipo de personas. Alt.Latino es un programa que sirve el mismo propósito, y estamos felices de que hoy tenemos un show que refleja esa diversidad.

This Week On Alt.Latino: Mala Rodriguez Is In The House

Malamarismo

Toca Toca

  • Artist: Mala Rodríguez
  • Album: Malamarismo
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  • "Toca Toca"
  • Album: Malamarismo
  • Artist: Mala Rodríguez
  • Label: Machete Music
  • Released: 2007
 

Dime

  • Artist: Lole Y Manuel
  • Album: Una Voz Una Guitarra
YouTube
 
Lujo Iberico

A Jierro

  • Artist: Mala Rodríguez
  • Album: Lujo Ibérico
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  • "Jierro"
  • Album: Lujo Ibérico
  • Artist: Mala Rodríguez
  • Label: Universal Distribution
  • Released: 2002
 
Lujo Iberico

Con los Ojos de Engañá

  • Artist: Mala Rodríguez
  • Album: Lujo Ibérico
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  • "Con los Ojos de Engañá"
  • Album: Lujo Ibérico
  • Artist: Mala Rodríguez
  • Label: Universal Distribution
  • Released: 2002
 

Si Te Contara

  • Artist: Martirio
  • Album: Primavera en Nueva York
YouTube
 
Residente o Visitante

Mala Suerte con el 13

  • Artist: Calle 13
  • Album: Residente o Visitante

Warning: This song contains adult content.

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  • "Mala Suerta con el 13"
  • Album: Residente o Visitante
  • Artist: Calle 13
  • Label: Sony BMG Latin
  • Released: 2007
 
Lujo Iberico

Yo Marco el Minuto

  • Artist: Mala Rodríguez
  • Album: Lujo Ibérico
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  • "Yo Marco el Minuto"
  • Album: Lujo Ibérico
  • Artist: Mala Rodríguez
  • Label: Universal Distribution
  • Released: 2002
 
Diry Bailarina

Prima

  • Artist: Mala Rodriguez
  • Album: Dirty Bailarina
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  • "Prima"
  • Album: Dirty Bailarina
  • Artist: Mala Rodriguez
  • Label: Universal Import
  • Released: 2011
 
Dirty Bailarina

Yo no mato el tiempo

  • Artist: Mala Rodriguez
  • Album: Dirty Bailarina
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  • "Yo No Mato El Tiempo"
  • Album: Dirty Bailarina
  • Artist: Mala Rodriguez
  • Label: Universal Import
  • Released: 2011
 

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