Gasolina Dreams

A reggaetón debut stakes out several new directions, particularly those to the left, to the left

Apparently there's a lot more to life than hard-hitting club bangers. At least, that's the message reggaetón ingenue La Sista wants to convey on Majestad Negroide, a record bent on looking beyond her genre's quest for the never-ending fiesta. Her refreshingly original debut excels at hooking up old-school Caribbean roots music with digitally generated riddims; it doesn't hurt that she's got a dream team of reggaetón producers, especially Calle 13's Grammy-winning Visitante, throwing their newest toys (rock-guitar loops, bluesy saxophones, live congas) into the mix.

Still, the main attraction here is Sista's awe-inspiring rhyming skill—a razor-sharp, socially conscious perspective miles ahead of your average booty-worshiping reggaetonero. On the dancehall-tinged "Acabones de La Letra," she takes on the endless cycle of the barrio thug lifestyle, cautioning wannabe drug-dealing gangstas about the trappings of an easy score; with shades of Beyoncé, the mambo-meets-reggaetón of "Calabo & Bamboo" turns the tables on a chauvinistic lover, advising him to pack his bags. None of this would really fly, however, if her pointed lyrics weren't perfectly aligned with a dazzling, irreplaceable reggaetón fusion.

 
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