The Bad Boy

Hector el Father

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The Bad Boy Review

by Jason Birchmeier

The Bad Boy is Hector el Father's debut solo album; however, he was widely recognized as a reggaeton veteran by the time of the album's release. From 1998 to 2003, he'd been half of the duo Hector & Tito, whose sole full-length album, A la Reconquista (2002), was groundbreaking in terms of popularity and influence -- the first reggaeton album to make noticeable waves within the Latin music industry. Hector & Tito split up in the wake of that album's success, with each pursuing his own solo fortune. Hector "El Bambino" (as he was known for a while) made his solo debut with Los Anormales (2004), an impressive mixtape that was also released in DVD format. He returned two years later with another mixtape, Los Rompe Discotekas (2006), this one for Def Jam. It included a feature with El Presidente de Def Jam, Jay-Z, but the song was fairly lame, especially Jigga's lazy, phoned-in contribution, and the album itself was disappointing for some, given the expectations and possibilities that came along with the Def Jam connection. So by the time The Bad Boy was released by Machete Music in 2007, Hector rightly deserved to change his moniker from El Bambino (which roughly translates to "The Child" in English) to El Father -- he'd been in the industry for almost a decade at this point. And indeed he sounds like a veteran on The Bad Boy, commanding the album by himself, from the overlong "Intro" to the similarly fashioned album-closing diatribe, "Hipocritas (Outro)." It's reasonable to assume that the 18-track, occasionally indulgent album is a reflection of how much pent-up frustration and how many bottled-up ideas Hector had held onto over the years in anticipation of this long-awaited solo album. Unlike recent albums by reggaeton figureheads Don Omar (King of Kings, 2006) and Tego Calderón (The Underdog/El Subestimado, 2006), which sought to broaden the style's boundaries beyond strictly club- and mixtape-oriented music, The Bad Boy is by-the-book reggaeton. It's main distinguishing characteristic -- besides Hector himself, who is quite distinct in manner and attitude -- is the occasionally sung hooks. "Sola," the album's lead single, boasts an especially melodic chorus, and "Te Vas" features Ken-Y, the golden-voiced young man who enjoyed one of the preceding year's biggest hits, "Down," as part of the duo Rakim & Ken-Y. Another highlight is "Si Supieras," yet another half-sung collaboration, this one featuring pop superstar Ednita Nazario, an unlikely guest for an album such as this, given her legacy and stateliness. These few pop-crossover concessions help lighten up an otherwise dark album that often revels in its "badness." Of course, it's a bit disconcerting for "The Bad Boy" to keep company with pop darlings like Ken-Y and Nazario, and then rail against hypocrites on the album-closing diatribe. Then again, The Bad Boy is only Hector's first solo album, so even if he is a veteran, perhaps he's unsure of his direction -- torn between the underground and MTV -- and will work out the contradictions on further efforts. In the meantime, this is a promising start.

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