As Puerto Rico’s independent music scene continues to grow, more and more music is released as artists continue to take full advantage of the benefits of the internet. By releasing singles on almost a daily basis, musicians of all fields, especially hip-hop and electronic, continue to release their work putting themselves out there so that audiences all over the globe can listen to their music. Here are a few singles found in May 2018 that you should definitely listen to.
“No tengas miedo” by Los Nervios
A sweet love song about taking a chance with someone, the latest single by Los Nervios shows the indie band using electronic and synthpop influenced sounds making it a tender track that explores the awkward directions relationships can take. In the end, the tune demonstrates that the band’s forthcoming full-length project is one to keep an eye out.
“Cuando Estes Sola” by Mora & Sousa
An R&B influenced trap track, the latest collaboration by Mora and Sousa is a tune that explores the importance of communication in any type of love fueled relationship as it can perfect or ruin a relationship. Like many trap songs today, “Sola” is a melody heavy single that features little to no lyricism that manages to set a vibe while sharing thoughts on the universally appealing topic of love.
“Rebelate” by Jib Da’ Mist
A Savage Minds produced afro-beat influenced track, Jib Da’ Mist’s “Rebelate” is a highly danceable track that will inspire listeners everywhere to shake their bodies in each and every way possible. Though the song suffers from its short running time, the tune is still a great addition for anyone’s party and workout playlist while showing the musician’s growing musical repertoire.
“Es Cierto (Musty Remix)” by Fuete Billete
Influenced by the sounds made famous by rappers from the south of the United States in the late 2000s, this remix to Fuete Billete’s “Es Cierto” reaffirms the group’s position as some of the pioneers of Puerto Rican trap. Fuete Billete’s latest single is a great addition to anybody’s party playlist as it isn’t afraid to hit you in the face with a powerful and hard-hitting bass that continues until the end.
“Puesto (Six Figures)” and “Me compre un Full (version #FicoRaw)” by Fico Rodz
Fico Rodz’s boom-bap rap influenced “Puesto” is a track about his balancing of the most important aspects of his life: family, hip hop and skateboarding. However, at the end of each and every reflection it all boils down to “la familia primero” (family comes first), as Rodz simply states that before the money and everything else, he will stick to his family. “Puesto” is yet another entry into Fico’s introspective raps where he reflects on his life decisions, but what makes it different from the rest is his way of being very clear about the elements he tries to balance in the difficult journey life has for us. Meanwhile, “Me compre un Full (version #FicoRaw)” is a commentary on those artists who decide to sell out their morals and original goals in their craft by going into the underworld using drugs and weapons. Rodz attempts to tell a cautionary tale to all those upcoming musicians who have thought of risking a potential successful career just to a have a quick boom into the industry instead of working their way up the ranks.
“Domingo” by Mike Rodz
A soulful and jazzy boom-bap rap, Mike Rodz’s “Domingo” tells the story many have gone through, the “back and forth” process in love where neither side knows where the relationship is going. However, in Rodz’s tale the male knows that he wants to be with the girl thus the track serves as a kind of proposal in order to move forward. Like previous Mike Rodz songs, this one continues to display his ability as a storyteller and lyricist.
“Atardecer”, “Ash” and “Save the day” by La Emperatriz
A great entry into the growing electronic scene in the island, La Emperatriz’s “Atardecer” is a beautifully slow yet relaxing and ethereal track that will help listeners everywhere see themselves enjoying a good afternoon or late night be it alone or with friends. Meanwhile, with “Ash” and “Save the day”, La Emperatriz shows off her willingness to experiment with a variety of sounds in order to enhance on her ethereal vibes while also displaying her psychedelic and dark ambient influences. With these three singles, La Emperatriz definitely demonstrates she’s definitely an artist to keep an eye out.
“Missin U (Voices On My Head)” by Yung Hannibal
A new addition to the slowly growing sub-genre of emo-rap in Puerto Rico’s independent scene, Yung Hannibal’s “Missin U (Voices On My Head)” is a short and to-the-point lo-fi boom-bap ballad where the young artist, instead of rapping, takes a melodic approach in order to properly express his feelings through lyrics which explore grief and loss making it an interesting entry to the “sadboi” movement in the island.
“Modo de Avion” by Lyanno and Darell
An R&B influenced trap track, the latest collaboration by Lyanno and Darell is a sexually fueled ballad which instantly triggers erotic imagery in slow-motion. A good balance of the two genres that inspired the song, “Modo de Avion” is a good addition to anyone’s bedroom playlist.
“何も” by Clammy & the Hands
A lo-fi hard rock track, “何も” is a short and to-the-point single that, upon first listening, feels like a female anime character is on the vocals and perhaps this is on purpose given that the artwork features what seems to be exactly. If you wish to get a quick adrenaline fueled track that will wake you up, this track is definitely for you. However, if you like rock that isn’t a little raw on the edges then this is isn’t for you.
“La Semana” by Clveless feat. Mike Rodz
A lo-fi boom bap track that shows great chemistry between Clveless and Mike Rodz, “La Semana” feels like the two artists knew each other since they were kids and always wanted to rap together. The production, which feels like a mixture between hip-hop and music used to entertain little kids, enhances the atmosphere and the lyrics presented in “La Semana” as it puts in full display the passion Clveless and Rodz have for their art. The tune certainly feels like a fun and laid back track about people, not just musicians, enjoying life and the art they do.
“BABALAO”, “BY MYSELF”, “MAMACITA” and “How Run It Freestyle” by OMVR X JC
OMVR X JC continue to display their work ethic towards success with these recent singles. With “BABALAO”, the duo address their never ending workflow and how they are always looking over their shoulders for those who try to pretend to be the best trap rappers without doing anything. This message is enhanced in “BY MYSELF”, where they use Spanglish to explore the subject of trust and state how they only believe in each other in an industry where money is a very important factor. However, while the aforementioned tunes addressed individuality, “MAMACITA” attempts to be a love and sex song where the trap rappers practice their melodies. While the single sees both artists experimenting with a new element, the tune could’ve been better if it had a featured artist. Nevertheless, it is a nice attempt at new ground by the duo. Finally, “How Run It” is a banging freestyle that will have people head banging and, if performed live, probably moshing. These latest singles by OMVR X JC show how the duo continues to work hard to find the success they desire and how they are willing to experiment with different ways to approach music.
“La Raver”, “Cortas Encima” and “El Callejon” by Fabiio
An artist who has been on the scene for a year or so, the San Juan-based Fabiio released three singles this month the first of which was “La Raver”, a trap influenced R&B tune directed towards a love interest who is fond of using psychedelic drugs and partying. Meanwhile “Cortas Encima”, displays Fabiio’s gangster side as he raps about being a sort of kingpin who has all sorts of guns, drugs and women. Finally, “El Callejon” is another trap tune where the artist continues to explore the crime side of the genre as he takes on the gangster persona presented in “Cortas Encima”. In sum, Fabiio is still an artist finding his path in the trap scene who has a fantastic ear for beats.
“Presidentes” and “No Puedes (feat. Majestic Boy and Marckeins)” by Requiem
Another artist living in the west of Puerto Rico, Requiem released two singles this month with “Presidentes” and “No Puedes” alongside Majestic and Marckeins. The first of these is a mixture of trap and lyricism where the artist raps about his money and how he gets it. In this tune, the artist manages to balance his lyrical abilities with a trap beat, a style that is slowly being explored more. Meanwhile, with “No Puedes”, Requiem collaborates with Majestic and Marckeins to make a trap influenced R&B song where the artists balance singing, storytelling and rapping to address love interests and how they serve as their muse. In short, these two singles by the Aguadilla-based artist display how comfortable he is exploring three popular realms of hip-hop: lyricism, trap and the ever-growing connection between trap and R&B.
“Up In That” by Blxxdshot feat. Stz
A lyrical hip-hop track about determination and aspiring to be the greatest in the rap game, the latest collaboration by Blxxdshot and Stz is a song that explores familiar lyrical territory, but what makes it different from the rest is the nice balance between beat and raps. It isn’t a tune that relies on having to be too laid back or too hyped, there’s a nice equilibrium that makes it easy for you to imagine yourself driving to it down the street at night in slow motion.
“Outta sight” by Stz
A short yet bass heavy trap track, Stz’s “Outta sight” explores drug and alcohol use to explore every day as well as the glorification of money. Stz’s latest solo single is a tune that will perfectly blend with many other trap tunes or playlists built off this genre.
“Pensando En Ti” by Carly Musa feat. Abby Perez
Another great love song by Carly Musa where the artist manages to balance singing and rapping, “Pensando En Ti” is a boom bap rap track with roots in the late 1990s neo soul made famous by The Soulquarians. Though lyrically it explores familiar territory, the tune shows Musa’s path to success as the year moves along. Hopefully, by the end of the year he’ll release an EP or a mixtape.
“Madrid” by DOGOS
Their first single in quite some time, DOGOS’ “Madrid” is a nice dance-rock influenced indie track that will have some relaxing and listening to the story told in the lyrics, while others would spend the tune’s four-minute running time dancing. A song that could be interpreted in a variety of ways, one might say that it’s about disappointment, heartbreak and even depression. However, one thing’s for sure, this DOGOS’ tune is a great return to the studio by one of the quickly rising bands of the Puerto Rican independent arts scene.
“Por si acaso” by Del Hoyo
A soulful and jazz boom bap hip hop track, Del Hoyo’s “Por si acaso” is a short single where the rapper presents a bit about his hardships and how he wishes to remind listeners that there are many problems in around us and that we should address these instead of avoiding them. Though the tune has good intention, it would’ve been good to hear Del Hoyo expand a bit on his message. Nevertheless, the track is a nice song to sit back, relax and reflect on those internal and external conflicts that drag us down daily.
“Sleepless (Raw Acoustic Version)” by Mr. Kraken
A raw and acoustic version of his song “Sleepless”, Mr. Kraken’s latest single is a sweet sounding ballad about the positives and negatives found in any love-fueled relationship. Though the lo-fi quality adds to the power of the lyrics, it will be interesting to listen to the track in a high quality version that’s accompanied by other instruments just to see the differences between each one. Nevertheless, this is a great and simple lo-fi ballad that perfectly blends its recording quality to the yin-yang dynamic being told in the lyrics.
“Cosas Que Tenia En La Mente Freestyle” by Reyes †††
A soulful, jazzy and lo-fi instrumental accompanies Reyes †††’s latest love-fueled freestyle where he lets everything out there. Though he doesn’t name drop the target audience of this tune, it is clear that the young rapper is in love with someone and he wishes to express this feeling.
“Wolf Cup 98” by Dan Siego
One of the most moving songs by Dan Siego, their recent single “Wolf Cub 98” is also one of the longest in their repertoire and one of the few to contain lyrics. This track perfectly captures the atmosphere the band sets up in their shows with a little bit of noise, punk, dance rock and space rock influences. Overall, the tune truly demonstrates that the duo’s upcoming Bloodpuncher’s Greatest Hits is one of the projects to look out for this year.
“El Ultimo Baile” by Cologne
A prog-rock influenced indie rock track, the first single by Cologne shows a bit of the young band’s influences. From heavy metal groups like Ghost to the Australian stoner rock ensemble Wolfmother and Puerto Rico’s own Draco, “El Ultimo Baile” demonstrates that the west-based band is one to look out for this summer as they debut their sound live around different locations of Puerto Rico.
“NINTENDO” by Charlie Boldman
In this trap track named after the famous video game company, Charlie Boldman compares his drug use, sexual relationships and workflow to that of a video game. By using this similitude, the young trap rapper manages to capture one’s imagination. However, while the tune is certainly a banger, one can feel a bit disappointed as a few more references to the video game company could have been used to expand on the message. Nevertheless, the song is one that will have everybody dancing and moving their bodies.
“Cerbero” by Cartagena ft. Frivolo and Eleperez
A hard-hitting boom bap rap track, the latest single by Cartagena alongside Frivolo and Eleperez features the rappers in a full-blown lyrical attack where they present themselves as the best in the lyricism spectrum of hip-hop. As the tune’s name states, the artists feel like the three-headed hound of Greek myth as they assault the current state of the rap game. Overall, the single is a great song that shows potential for a possible group project between the three rappers which would be a great addition to the rap scene in Puerto Rico.
“Crecio” by Rey Varreino
The first song by the young lyrical rapper in over a year, “Crecio” is the first single of the upcoming full-length project CHAMACO. Varreino’s new track is yet another example of the artist’s lyrical abilities and proves that his forthcoming venture is certainly one to look out for this year.
“Calma” by Los Walters
The latest single by the synthpop group Los Walters is a relaxing and dance-able track that asks listeners to be patient and calm. In times of chaos, this is the type of the song we need to escape the moment for a few minutes as it puts one at peace, while also reminding us that in order to look at the situation in a clear perspective we must be at peace and focused. In sum, “Calma” is definitely a perfect way to end the month of May and welcome June in all its glorious summer shine.
After the disastrous events of Hurricane Maria and the chaotic state of the island's economy, Puerto Rico's independent arts scene has shown its continuous hunger to evolve and the ever-growing amount of singles released on monthly is a perfect example of this. While it is obvious that hip hop and R&B are the genres getting more output, other forms of music have also seen a bit of light such as noise rock in Dan Siego's "Wolf Cub 98", indie rock in "El Ultimo Baile" by Cologne and synthpop with "Calma" by Los Walters. Hopefully, the scene will continue to grow despite the problems that may arise.
Fernando E. E. Correa González is the author behind over 20 self-published poetry books. He has been published by literary magazines & journals [Id]entidad, El Vicio del Tintero, Sábanas Magazine, Smaeralit, The Occulum and Tonguas. Other than writing, Correa is also a filmmaker, photographer and master’s student. He currently lives in his native Puerto Rico.