Calle 13 E Illya Kuryaki and the Valderramas
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Calle 13 E Illya Kuryaki and the Valderramas Biography

It took the Puerto Rican duo Calle 13 roughly one year to catch on, after quietly debuting stateside in 2005 on White Lion (a small reggaeton label in partnership with Sony BMG) -- but catch on they certainly did. By the end of the following year, Calle 13 had become the hottest new artist in popular Latin music, garnering Grammy attention as well as widespread critical notices and steadily mounting album sales. Comprised of vocalist Residente (born René Pérez Joglar) and producer Visitante (Eduardo José Cabra Martínez), the duo wasn't a standard reggaeton act, which partly explained why the pair went unnoticed for some time. Reggaeton certainly influenced their music to a degree -- the unmistakable "dem bow" rhythm often anchored their songs, for example, and Residente did rap over the beats as one might expect -- yet Calle 13's material featured elements of other styles as well. Visitante's beats were inventive, incorporating aspects of hip-hop and characteristics of electronica, while Residente's rapping eschewed reggaeton's clichés, showcasing a healthy sense of humor and an almost clownish approach to sarcasm (à la Eminem) -- again, a world apart from the kingly bravado of most reggaeton vocalists, not to mention the obligatory glimmers of misogyny and violence that accompany such streetwise swaggering. All of this, along with several creative and fun-filled videos, made Calle 13 a refreshing alternative to the onslaught of reggaeton overtaking Latin music in 2005. In essence, Residente and Visitante offered a style of reggaeton that was both hip and unique -- one that was OK for women to embrace without a guilty conscience, one that critics (as well as the Grammys) could uphold as trailblazing, and one that was just plain fun.
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