Mala Rodríguez


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Mala Rodríguez turned heads with her debut album, Lujo Ibérico (2000), and not just because she was a female rapper but also because she had an imposing style. Her sharp-edged rhymes and rapid-fire flow informed her style, as did the creative production work of Jota Mayúscula and Supernafamacho. Integral members of the Madrid rap collective El Club de los Poetas Violentos (CPV), the two beatmakers filled Lujo Ibérico with productions that were minimal yet hard-hitting and evocative. On the follow-up album Alevosía, Rodríguez once again collaborates with Mayúscula and Supernafacho, whose beats are even more captivating than last time. Rapper/producer Sr. Tcee of the Madrid rap collective Verdaderos Kreyentes de la Religión del Hip Hop (VKR) is also credited with beatmaking on a few tracks, most notably on "En Esto," a two-minute instrumental interlude with an indelible sample of Curtis Mayfield's "Give Me Your Love" from Superfly (1972). As a rapper, Rodríguez has noticeably matured in the three years since Lujo Ibérico, sounding more confident and laid-back in her delivery and coming up with darker rhymes that are more streetwise and far more hardcore than last time. If anything, the critical acclaim of Lujo Ibérico seems to have hardened Rodríguez and turned her away from the commercial mainstream. Take for instance the lead single "La Niña," a grim song about a young girl who grows up on the margins of society in a barrio filled with drugs, crime, and shattered dreams. Fodder for the pop charts it's not. Unfortunately, Rodríguez is joined by a long list of featured guests on Alevosía. Eight of the 14 tracks feature one or more guests, a Spanish hardcore rap rogue's gallery that most notably includes Giggi Montecquiggia, Kultama, and Kamikaze. These guest rappers, most of them obscure and all of them inferior to Rodríguez, tarnish Alevosía greatly. If not for the onslaught of guest features, Alevosía would be a first-rate album. Rodríguez's raps are peerless, and the production work of Mayúscula, Supernafamacho, and Sr. Tcee is spellbinding. If you can overlook the guest features, there are a lot of highlights besides "La Niña," among them "Lo Fácil Cae Ligero," "En la Hoguera," "Jugadoras, Jugadores," and "Una Raya en el Agua," the latter notable for its touches of flamenco.

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