Queer children have lengthy recognized with superhero narratives: particularly, tales during which common individuals uncover a latent energy inside themselves and fulfill their destinies. For Villano Antillano (“Antillean Villain” in English), the story that the majority resonated along with her was the Powerpuff Women, three children engineered to be excellent little women who’re unintentionally dosed with an unidentified substance known as “Chemical X,” which grants them superpowers. Troubled at first by their energy, they quickly come to embrace it, capable of defeat even essentially the most evil boys with only a kiss on the cheek.
On her debut LP La Sustancia X, she leans into the metaphor, wielding her gender transformation as a weapon and reveling within the powers it grants her. Throughout 32 minutes of managed chaos, Villano and her major co-producer Ismael Cancel weave lure, reggaeton, metallic, and pop into an electrical synthesis of the sounds of el movimiento. There’s a direct line between her barrio barbie aesthetic and Nicki Minaj, however she additionally clearly attracts from the divine female power of Puerto Rican performers like Iris Chacón and Myrta Silva. From the primary to final notes of La Sustancia X, she carries a pure swagger, making femme expression gangster and embodying a contemporary mannequin of femininity within the course of.
Throughout 11 tracks, Villano makes the case that she’s a villain price rooting for. On “Cáscara de coco,” she attracts on the ability of flaunting femininity within the face of “machos,” leveraging a Boricua expression that correlates human grit to the laborious exterior of a coconut shell. Her sexuality is as fluid as her type—she’ll steal your woman or your man—and refuses to really feel dangerous about it, as a result of she is aware of you desire a piece of her, too. The document’s drum programming is immaculate; Villano and Cancel brandish percussion from the Caribbean and the strip membership with equal aplomb.
There are additionally moments of levity; she unapologetically embraces the intercourse, medicine, and rock’n’roll of “Hedonismo,” however later tempers it on “Kaleidoscópica” with the admission that the drugs are armor to endure a dystopia hostile to your very existence. And album spotlight “Mujer”—that includes a combative verse from the Puerto Rican singer iLe—is each an admonition and a flex, calling out the forces conspiring in opposition to ladies whereas admitting these threats are not any match for their very own energy. Whereas Dangerous Bunny has made Spanish-language rap-rock information all the trend, few might hope to hyperlink prog and lure as effortlessly as she does on “Puesta,” that includes Cuban singer La Dame Blanche.
It’s laborious to think about a document like La Sustancia X cracking the mainstream even simply 10 years in the past, a testomony to the Puerto Rican queer neighborhood’s hard-fought battles to say area—and the vocal help of the largest pop star on the earth. Her BZRP Session could have opened the door to the pop world, however now that she’s right here, her collaborative decisions counsel she’s propping it open and bringing her neighborhood along with her. “Yo no soy un artista, so un movimiento,” she raps on the album’s first monitor (“I’m not an artist, I’m a motion”). There’s extra at stake right here than only one girl’s success.
Whereas La Sustancia X is clearly a forceful character assertion, you don’t have to know something about Villano to maneuver to those bops, and even perceive Spanish to acknowledge her movement is impeccable. However her id does add an air of authenticity to el movimento’s trademark braggadocio; these are struggle tales from the entrance traces, the final word flex from a self-actualized superhero.
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