Crooked Stilo


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When fans of Spanish-language rap thought of hard, rowdy, aggressive party music in the early to mid-2000s, one of the first things that came to mind was reggaeton -- a Caribbean-dominated, dancehall-influenced style that was as popular in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic as crunk was among Dirty South enthusiasts in Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, and Alabama. But reggaeton, for all its popularity, is far from the last word on Spanish-language rapping in the 21st century -- and on Retrasalo, the Salvadoran siblings who comprise Crooked Stilo bring a West Coast flavor to an abundance of hard-edged party jams. Cypress Hill and Funkdoobiest continue to influence Victor "Lunatiko" Lopez and Johnny "El Duke" Lopez, but their rhythms aren't as thuggish or threatening -- edgy and forceful, certainly, but not overly threatening and not overtly violent the way that much of Cypress Hill's material is overtly violent. And unlike the albums of Cypress Hill and Funkdoobiest, Retrasalo is dominated by Spanish lyrics. The Lopez brothers flow mostly or entirely en espaƱol on club bangers like "Asi Soy Yo," "Jugadores," and the cumbia-flavored "Cumbia Urbana," and they use Spanish to make most or all of their points on three songs that have a very jaded, cynical view of love: "No Me Quiero Enamorar" (I Don't Want to Fall in Love), "Me Mentiste" (You Lied to Me), and "Traicionera" (Female Traitor). This 2005 release doesn't get heavily into social or political issues, but Crooked Stilo does address the harsh realities of inner-city life on "Parrandero" (Gang Member). Although not a five-star masterpiece, Retrasalo is a decent, worthwhile disc that should satisfy those who enjoyed the group's previous Fonovisa release, Puro Escandalo, in 2004. [Fonovisa released a bonus DVD edition that adds a couple videos.]

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