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This is a true story.

«I've always been a very lively guy, with the energy well up. Twenty things have happened to me in life and I have stood there, not because I think I am more of a man, but because it is my way of being ».

Residente has made one of the best songs of the year and has called it René because it is not really a song, but a confession, a letter to himself. That song is himself. "But there was a time when a lot of things happened that I didn't control."

A song about a personal crisis, about anxiety , about depression , about memories of a humble childhood in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico, about fantasizing about suicide ("Sometimes I don't want to be here anymore"). "I was feeling very bad, I came to think it was a hindrance and I was scared, I felt so vulnerable that I didn't want to be where I was," she explains without looking at the laptop camera in her living room at her home in Puerto Rico. .

"I called my mom and my family, and they helped me focus again and lower what was on my mind. The next day I wrote the topic. Well, originally it was a much longer text, something I wrote to calm myself down, to feel better, like therapy.

Resident broke inside shortly before his 40th birthday, in 2017, in a Mexico City hotel room. Thousands of people were waiting for him to act and he wanted to "jump off the balcony and didn't know why." For two and a half years he kept that writing, until the song appeared in late February, which already exceeds 100 million views on YouTube and 40 million on Spotify. "It was very important for me to make this song," he says. And he repeats it four sentences later. "It was good, very important."

This song comes out of a very personal catharsis, you write it the next day, but it takes two and a half years to publish it. Did you have a lot of doubts about sharing it? More than doubts, I didn't know it was going to be a song. Then I did some work on it and did a first test with one of my brothers, so it was also emotional, nostalgic, and I said, "Hey, Gabriel, I want you to hear this." I had a little piano recorded and I rapped it live and he started crying a lot. I have never seen him cry, he is super funny, with the energy always up. I saw that the text had something, but it took me time to think that it could be a song. Then yes, I wanted to share it, I felt very calm about everything. I've always been very honest, but being honest with something so personal is more difficult, because you know that sometimes, no matter how much you don't care what others say, people can be cruel. And if you are very sensitive and you throw to the front your feeling can affect you much more than they say anything.

With the dart in the word, Residente is the gold standard of Latin rap . The Canon. He is the teacher but also the one who breaks the norm. No one comes near him. It has eavesdropping by the hundreds of millions. He has dozens of awards, nobody has more Latin Grammy (almost 30). And above all, he has the authority: his songs have penetrated Latin American identity and culture as few artistic creations have done in this century. It is no longer just rap, or music, it is part of an identity.

Between 2005 and 2015, Calle 13 was the platform on which this 42-year-old proudly Puerto Rican singer did it. With irony, wit and emotion, attending to entertainment without neglecting creativity. And when he did indeed feel that he had done everything but wanted to do more, he broke his alliance with his stepbrother, Visitor, to find new ways of expression.

René is again a triumph in his career, but perhaps the most unexpected. “Everything that happened the day it was published [on February 27] was super special. Also, doing an eight-minute song that was so honest and that it was viral and that so many people connected with it also helped me to try many things in front of the label . I am not showing a buttock nor do I go out with fire, nor is it a dance theme, nor does it last two and a half minutes. I said to them: "See, there is a need for this" ».

Latin music has been experiencing a moment of enormous popularity for several years. How do you think the success of Latin music is influencing the way Latinos are perceived in the world? It is not the first time, here we have people who opened doors like Ricky Martin or Shakira, and within the urban genre, Tego Calderón was fundamental in expanding reggaeton and Latin rap. I always had this shit that the perception that the Anglo world has of the Latin is palms with coconuts, pina colada, colors and things like that, it is as if everything was a dance, when you have some great artists in Latin America and Spain that the world Anglo has not had a chance to meet. Now a door has been opened and what is needed is for more artists to come out with the courage to be themselves and to bring also different proposals, not only to dance. Anglo companies literally tell you: "But why do you want to release a song now, if it is not yet summer? Now you don't have to release any Latino." That is strong. For example, Rosalía's first proposal is that of a new artist. Or Benito [Bad Bunny] seems to me a proposal that, inside the trap, is something else, it is something special. They are doors that open and can lead you to listen to Camarón or Rubén Blades. Do you have Bob Dylan? Well here are Rubén Blades or Víctor Jara, who know the value of Latin music in all its splendor.

Resident is not only a singer but also a producer and director of videos. He studied at a Fine Arts school and has a deep understanding that music is an artistic manifestation. I have treated rap as just another tool for making art , but I have never followed the rules. That is why I have such a detractor within hip hop, "he says. This explains why he is so critical in songs like Pecador with reggaeton , a style that he listens to "since he was a kid , when he was very out of the street", and that he frequented at the beginning of Calle 13.

“At a commercial level, its evolution has been gigantic, but at a musical level, it remained in an old sound that they repeat all the time and that never surprise you with something new. I have always liked reggaeton, but at one point I already knew what it was about, in a new song or album I was not expecting what I could expect with Björk or with a musician who every time surprises you with something new. I would like them to break with many things on a musical level. To Bad Bunny, who is my friend, I talk a lot about that and about starting to make art for oneself that people connect with, but not thinking all the time about what people are going to like, because then your music ends up being what people want and not what you are ».

It is definitely at the opposite extreme of stereotypes about Latin urban music. The author from Latin America says very seriously that "fearful art is not art" and believes that the artist has an obligation to take sides. «Every human being has the duty to assume their social and political positions. And if you are an artist you have it even more », he says. «There are people who tell you that if you are an artist you should not get involved. I think the opposite is true. Art is born out of honesty. That is the art that I studied, which is the fine arts and music. It is important to assume positions in all aspects without any fear, not in a tiresome way or tried to help you commercially. Although the truth is that when you take political positions it is very unlikely that this will help you commercially, in fact everything is much more complicated for you and you have to be raising topics that are too good to be able to subsist because everything is really complicated ».

15 years have passed since Calle 13's debut and this singer, producer and video maker ( René's is his) is reaffirmed in a phrase that can serve as a motto: "I feel comfortable being uncomfortable." And since inertia is not worth it, the dead time of confinement has helped him develop a project a thousand times overdue. "All my life I have wanted to make movies. I have made my music as a hobby that came out super well, but what I love is the cinema, so I said to myself, "if I don't write a movie at this time I will never do it", and I'm in a good moment to make a transition to the cinema. Now I am writing a movie ». What is it about? "I can't tell you yet ... It's a historical drama." Knowing him for sure it will be from the History of his country, from popular heroes and corrupt villains. René smiles. "You are going to keep asking around and I don't want to say more ...". He laughs looking at his computer camera.

Last year there were many protests in different Latin American countries. You actively participated in those in your country. Was there something that united them, did they have something in common? I think that they all have many things in common. There is a shortage of money, poor health planning, education is not free and public everywhere ... In Puerto Rico we managed to lower the governor. It was brutal that the government was screwing up the country so much for many years. We were demonstrating 12 consecutive days, with the country detained, and it was great, it was a great moment for us historically. It marked a before and after of what Puerto Rico can be in the future. But it is still missing, we have to download them all! They are all a stream of corrupt. Most of them are horrible. There is a word that often appears in your songs from the beginning of Calle 13, which is revolution. because it is important for you? I do not know if I use the word revolution, perhaps I represent it with what I say or with things I do, and that is why sometimes they give me that title, but I try to avoid words like that so as not to fall into the clichés of what the people may think that I am. So I have never used empire or the word imperialism. I have always stayed away from all those words that usually identify people on the left, because they cannot tell me that I am on the left either because today the left and the right seem to me that you do not paint anything. Something new has to be invented and we have been fooling around for a long time. Recently a scientist friend from Yale University told me that today, in the face of the pandemic, things are not being divided between left and right, but between who is with science and who is not. And it can be interesting a world where the political future is defined by these things and not by what we have understood until now as politics. With the old ideologies. Yes, I think that I think that new things must be invented, with all due respect to movements. For me, what the right has historically done in my country has been inhumane, but the left also has stories that have screwed up. So how can we do something new where everything starts from scratch? Because I think the pandemic is telling us: "bastards, are they going to continue with the same type of life, the same speed, the same contamination ...? Are they going to continue the same?" Although rap already has almost 50 years of history, it is still associated with youth, it seems a genre only of young people. How have you lived getting older and keep doing rap? When I was kid thought so. In fact I have a song in which I say that I'm going to die at 40, which is bastard because two and a half years ago I was 40 years old and this happened to you. He hit me hard. But I think rap is like rock, rock is a movement, even a lifestyle, it is an energy, and it is still solid music. And I don't mean putting electric guitars on it, but the energy and what you're doing. The same goes for punk art. Before, I couldn't see myself singing at 40, but now I can easily see myself singing at 70, rap songs, of course I do. When you think of the artist you wanted to be when you were a young man, 15 years ago, when you think of the illusions and what you wanted to become and when you see how time has evolved and what you have gained and what you have lost, what do you see? I have achieved much more than I imagined ... I never thought, never I never imagined that my proposal was going to have the social strength that it has, that social power. That social part I did not imagine. On a commercial level I exceeded my expectations and on an artistic level as well, and on the level of awards, but I did dream of going far, however I could not imagine that social dimension. What image did you have of yourself as an artist when you started and how has that image changed? [00:39:48] It is difficult to answer you because I still do not know ... I know what people feel because they write to me, but my family keeps me very clear with who I am, they do not allow me to leave in a journey of the things you have accomplished. Sometimes they send me messages, but I can't imagine that there could be millions of people thinking the same way. And I tell you honestly. I can't imagine it. I feel that I have achieved many things in my life and as an artist, but the social aspect was something that I did not imagine, really not, I did not imagine that the presidents of different countries would quote my lyrics or want to talk to me, or that I could mobilize so many people for any cause, that I was going to be like a magnet. I don't know, there was a moment very early in my career that clacked ... It is a very difficult question that you just asked me, because I would like to answer you bastardly well ... but no, I never imagined that I would have this repercussion Finally, I have to ask you if we will ever see Calle 13 again. I see Calle 13 as a stage in which I grew up as an artist and my brother too and it could happen that we would do things together again, but now I feel good as I am. What happened to me with Calle 13 is that I already felt it was a brand where I was comfortable ... Do you know what I would like? Doing something with my brother that is not Calle 13, that would keep the best of both worlds, working with him from an uncomfortable place, starting something that does not have a brand. But maybe there can be a tour where we get together and also with Ile, with my sister. I love them both and I love to play with them, maybe because of that nostalgic part everything will connect again at some point.

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