Mala Rodríguez's fourth album, Dirty Bailarina, once again finds her pushing forward stylistically, this time into the electro-pop realm. She still raps in much the same manner as she did on her trail-blazing debut album, Lujo Ibérico (2000), but her songs and the musical productions accompanying them have become increasingly inventive. This was particularly evident on her third album, the Top Ten mainstream breakthrough effort Malamarismo (2007), where each song was unique and exciting, particularly the Julieta Venegas collaboration "Tiempo Pa Pensá" and the single "Nanai." Relative to Malamarismo, whose scattershot approach made for a disjointed listening experience, Dirty Bailarina is more uniform in style and saves its experimentation for the end of the album. The first half of the album, from "En la Línea" to "Yo No Mato el Tiempo," is fast-paced and informed by the electro-pop style in vogue circa 2010. Fortunately, Rodríguez doesn't aim to replicate Lady Gaga or Shakira and stays true to herself. As to be expected, however, the beats over which she raps are generally synth-driven and electronic, not dissimilar to the electro-pop style Calle 13 explored on their 2009 single "Electro Movimiento," albeit without the retrospective intent of that song. Much of the production work on Dirty Bailarina, including the exemplary lead single, "No Pidas Perdón," is credited to American hitmaker Focus. Spanish producers Griffi (of Sólo los Sólo) and Sr. Tcee (of VKR) are also credited. While the uptempo half of Dirty Bailarina is dazzling, the latter half of the album, which is slower and more experimental, is less satisfying. Second-half highlights include the downtempo numbers "Ama" and "Por Eso Mato," in particular the lyrics of the former and the melodic hook of the latter, and the epic Estrella Morente collaboration "Patito Feo" that closes the album is also memorable. Though most fans will prefer hearing Rodríguez let it rip on first-half highlights like "Galaxias Cercanas," the second-half explorations of Dirty Bailarina are important in that they balance out the album and affirm that the Spanish rapper hasn't gone pop like some Spanish rap purists have cried.
Dirty Bailarina Review
by Jason Birchmeier