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Thursday, January 20, 2022

A Rapper, Hitting His 30s, Reinvents Himself as a Scion of Spanish Pop

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LONDON — C. Tangana, certainly one of Spain’s greatest rap stars, two years in the past hit “somewhat little bit of a disaster.”

He was using a wave of fame, identified for provocative songs and equally provocative interviews. However he was quick approaching his 30s, he stated in a current Zoom interview, and risked changing into a type of “cringe-y, embarrassing” rappers who act a decade youthful than they’re.

So C. Tangana — actual title Antón Álvarez Alfaro — did a U-turn and determined to strive his hand at different types of music that he had liked since childhood, like flamenco and rumba, even Spanish people.

“I used to be opening a window I’d saved closed,” he stated, including, “I assumed it will go incorrect.”

Álvarez’s experiment seems to have paid off. In February, he launched “El Madrileño,” an album that mixes conventional Spanish and Latin American types, together with rock, with digital sounds and beats extra acquainted to his entice and reggaeton followers. It’s turned him from Spain’s greatest rapper into certainly one of its greatest pop stars.

One of many album’s early tracks, “Tú Me Dejaste De Querer” (“You Stopped Loving Me”), has over 100 million views on YouTube.

“You possibly can hearken to his music anytime, in any store” Pablo Gil, a music journalist at El Mundo, a Spanish every day newspaper, stated in a phone interview.

A number of the musical types it options have been final fashionable in Spain within the Nineteen Seventies, when the nation was below Franco’s dictatorship, Gil added. Álvarez, he stated, was taking old style sounds, “subverting their which means and making them fashionable.”

In a assessment for the newspaper El País, the music critic Carlos Marcos wrote, “It stays to be seen whether or not that is the delivery of a brand new Spanish pop, or one thing that we are going to overlook in a number of years.”

“However who cares?” he added. “Let’s take pleasure in it at present, and we’ll see tomorrow.”

On YouTube, C. Tangana’s movies now entice feedback from older music followers who would presumably by no means have gone close to his information earlier than. “I assumed the music my son listened to was for landfill,” wrote Felix Guinnot, who stated he was in his 50s, “however this boy is altering my musical notion.”

Álvarez’s highway to fame has been winding, with a number of modifications of title to replicate new musical personas. Born in Madrid, he began rapping in his teenagers, he stated, however twice gave up on music completely. When the 2008 international monetary disaster hit Spain notably arduous — its lingering results are nonetheless felt by the nation’s youth — he stopped rapping to work in a fast-food restaurant. Later, he acquired a job in a name middle promoting cellphones.

He began rapping once more after falling in love with a colleague. It was a poisonous relationship, Álvarez stated, nevertheless it impressed him to get again into the studio. “I stated, ‘It have to be doable for me to earn money doing this somewhat than promoting telephones or cleansing,’” he recalled. “It modified my complete mentality. I began to suppose I needed to promote myself. I began to do issues to get consideration.”

In 2017, Álvarez had his first main hit with “Mala Mujer,” a monitor about his eager for a “unhealthy lady” whose “gel nails have left scars throughout my physique.” However he was quickly identified extra for his relationship with Rosalía, a Spanish pop star (he co-wrote a lot of “El Mal Querer,” or “Unhealthy Love,” her breakthrough album, though they’ve since damaged up) and for moving into political controversies.

The following yr, the northern Spanish metropolis of Bilbao threw C. Tangana off a live performance lineup, saying that his lyrics have been degrading to girls.

Extra just lately, he known as for individuals to reclaim Spain’s flag from fascists, a doubtlessly contentious endorsement in a rustic the place some affiliate it with Franco’s dictatorship.

Ana Iris Simón, a music journalist and writer who has written concerning the response to “El Madrileño,” praised Álvarez’s outspoken nature. “He’s not afraid of getting concerned or giving his opinion,” she stated in an e-mail.

Some critics nonetheless accuse him of being overly macho, Simón stated. They level out that solely one of many new album’s 15 friends is a lady (La Húngara, a flamenco singer). However Simón stated these feedback have been out of contact with how Spaniards seen him. “Public opinion and revealed opinion have by no means been as far aside as they’re now,” she famous.

The brand new album additionally performs to Spain’s class divides, Simón stated. It includes artists and musical types “reviled by the cool cultural scene for years for being music typical of the frequent individuals,” she stated. Álvarez makes use of these types with out irony, Iris added, as a substitute embracing them as would an inheritor.

Álvarez stated his selection of collaborators — who embrace the Gypsy Kings, the flamenco band that was massively fashionable within the Eighties; Ed Maverick, a “Mexican people romantic”; and Jorge Drexler, a Uruguayan singer-songwriter — was pushed by his love of artists who’ve taken their very own distinct musical paths. However he additionally hoped the collaborations with Latin American musicians would possibly change some Spaniards’ view of the area.

“In Spain, we now have this downside that lots of people nonetheless have this colonial mentality,” Álvarez stated. “They suppose that our tradition is best than their tradition, and that’s so silly.”

In the course of the interview, Álvarez stated he was overjoyed that his experiment had paid off. He talked rather a lot concerning the pleasure of being seen as a very good songwriter. However he appeared happiest when requested concerning the album’s influence on one particular particular person. His mom had “at all times been tremendous proud” of him, he stated, “however now she will sing my songs.”

Feedback on his YouTube tracks counsel that’s mom is just not the one member of one other technology doing that. Antonio Remacha, in Madrid, wrote an extended message beneath one monitor saying that his daughter had pressured him to hearken to the file in opposition to his higher judgment, however that he had liked it.

“I’ve to confess that at 62 years of age, he’s managed to impress me,” Remacha wrote of Álvarez, earlier than politely and formally signing off: “Congratulations and all of my reward.”



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