Guest DJs

Black, Puerto Rican And Proud: Guest DJ Tego Calderón

Gifted Puerto Rican rapper Tego Calderon is seen outside his studio, El Sitio, in Santurce, San Juan, Puerto Rico. i i

Gifted Puerto Rican rapper Tego Calderon is seen outside his studio, El Sitio, in Santurce, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Coburn Dukehart/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Coburn Dukehart/NPR
Gifted Puerto Rican rapper Tego Calderon is seen outside his studio, El Sitio, in Santurce, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Gifted Puerto Rican rapper Tego Calderon is seen outside his studio, El Sitio, in Santurce, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Coburn Dukehart/NPR

A few months ago, while in Puerto Rico for NPR's Morning Edition, I got a chance to sit down with one of my favorite Spanish-language rappers, Tego Calderón.

Calderón is one of today's most fascinating Puerto Rican musicians; he's responsible for some of the most danceable and sexy Spanish-language rap and reggaeton ever made. His rhymes are lean and minimalistic, with little room for silliness in his thick, no-nonsense drawl. While many other Spanish-language rappers border on agitated sexual hysteria, Calderón always keeps cool, whether a cute woman is dancing for him or he's addressing his desire for Puerto Rican independence under a bed of heavy-metal music. The guy is unshakeable.

No matter what he's talking about, El Abayarde, as he's also known, writes thoughtful and intelligent lyrics. When Calderón visited Alt.Latino last year, the conversation mostly revolved around his life story, as well as the release of his most recent mixtape, El Original Gallo Del Pais. We also talked a bit about topics that permeate most of his work: his African roots.

The conversation was so interesting, in fact, that we hungered for more; besides, Calderón is a fun guy to hang out with. There was no way I'd leave the island without grabbing some time with him, so I headed to his studio in the Santurce neighborhood of San Juan and asked him to share his thoughts on Afro-Puerto Rican history, music, culture and politics.

Bomba, a traditional form of Puerto Rican music, involves a challenge and a connection between percussionists and dancers.

Calderón ended up sharing amazing history, insights and music, and included lots of bomba (traditional music of Puerto Rico), plenty of the iconic Ismael Rivera and even some spoken-word recordings. It's a discussion I found stimulating and thought-provoking.

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Hace unos meses, viajando por Puerto Rico junto al equipo del programa de noticias matutinas Morning Edition, pude pasar un rato con uno de mis músicos favoritos: Tego Calderón.

Calderón es uno de los músicos boricuas más fascinantes de hoy. Ha creado algunas de las canciones más sexys y bailables del rap latino y el reggaetón. Sus rimas son siempre minimalistas y al punto: no cabe lugar para las palabras vacías en su manera lenta y espesa de recitar. Por alguna razón muchos de los raperos en español siempre parecen estar al borde de un ataque de nervios; pero Tego siempre mantiene la calma, ya sea que una chica linda esté bailando a su lado, o si habla de su deseo de un Puerto Rico libre, con el trasfondo de música de heavy metal. El tipo es la serenidad en carne viva.

Otra cosa que distingue al Abayarde, como también se lo conoce, es que no importa de qué se trata la canción: sus letras siempre son contemplativas y sumamente inteligentes. Cuando visitó a Alt.Latino el año pasado, hablamos mucho sobre su historia y su mas reciente trabajo, El Original Gallo Del País. Pero también se llegó a hablar de un tema muy importante para Tego, que es su herencia Africana.

La conversación que tuvimos en esa época fue tan interesante, que nos quedamos con ganas de más. Yo no tenía ninguna intención de irme de esa isla sin ver a nuestro amigo, así que logré escaparme un rato de mis obligaciones y dirigirme a su estudio de grabación en el barrio de Santurce, en San Juan.

Acabamos charlando acerca de la cultura, la música y la historia de los afrodescendientes no sólo en Puerto Rico, sino en Estados Unidos y en América Latina. Escuchamos mucha música bomba (tradicional de la isla), bastante Ismael Rivera, e incluso poesía hablada.

Espero que el programa de esta semana les resulte tan interesante a ustedes como me resultó a mi. Siempre les pedimos a nuestros oyentes su participación y, en particular con un tema tan importante como este, tenemos ansias de saber sus opiniones.

Guest DJ Tego Calderón

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Tego Calderón

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2003

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Ismael Rivera

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Ismael Rivera

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Vico C

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Tego Calderón

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Juan Boria

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