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Calle 13 is a Puerto Rican band formed by stepbrothers René Pérez Joglar (born February 23, 1978 in Hato Rey) who calls himself Residente (lead singer, songwriter) and Eduardo José Cabra Martínez (born September 10, 1978 in Santurce, another subsection of San Juan), who calls himself Visitante (multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, beat producer) and their sister Ileana aka PG-13 (choirs, background vocals).

Stepbrothers Pérez and Cabra first got a record deal with White Lion Records after sending the label a demo tape, and after the controversial song "Querido F.B.I." was released, the group gained notoriety in Puerto Rico. In 2005, Calle 13 released its eponymously titled debut album, which became very popular due to the singles "Se Vale Tó-Tó" and "¡Atrévete-te-te!". In 2007, the group released its second album, Residente o Visitante, which was also very successful and experimented with a wide variety of genres. The album helped the group gain success throughout Latin America and win three Latin Grammys. The group released its third album, Los de Atrás Vienen Conmigo, in 2008, which won Album of the Year at the 2009 Latin Grammy Awards. Calle 13 released its latest album, Entren Los Que Quieran, on November 22, 2010.

Calle 13 is noted for its eclectic musical style, often using unconventional instrumentation in its music, which distances the group from the reggaeton genre. The band is also known for its satirical lyrics as well as social commentary about Latin American issues and culture. The stepbrothers are strong supporters of the Puerto Rican independence movement, a stance that has generated controversy. For their work, the group has won nineteen Latin Grammy Awards. They hold the record for the most Latin Grammy wins. They have also won two Grammy Awards.

Band history

2004-05: Early years:

Residente and Visitante met when they were both two years old, when Residente's mother married Visitante's father. The family developed strong ties to the Puerto Rican arts community; Residente's mother, Flor Joglar de Gracia, was an actress in Teatro del Sesenta, a local acting troupe, while Visitante's father (who later became Residente's stepfather) is currently a lawyer, but at one time was a musician. The duo asserts that they lived a relatively comfortable lifestyle growing up, as Residente places himself in a group of Puerto Ricans who are "too poor to be rich and too rich to be poor." Although their parents later divorced, the stepbrothers remained close. When they were children, Visitante would visit his brother at the Calle 13 (13th Street) of the El Conquistador subsection of Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico every week. Since the subsection is a gated community, visitors were routinely asked "¿Residente o visitante?" ("Resident or visitor?") by a security guard when approaching the community's main gate. Therefore, Visitante would identify himself as a visitor, while Residente would have to insist that he was a resident to clear the gate. The pair named themselves Calle 13 after the street their family's house was on.

Residente originally studied to be an accountant, and Visitante finished a computer science degree. An art course prompted Residente to pursue a career as a multimedia designer, and Visitante became a full-time musician and producer. Residente states that his degree in design has influenced his musical style: "What I used to do with my visual art is the same thing I do now with my lyrics. My songs are descriptive, very visual." Besides this, Residente was a fan of what was then called "underground rap" in Puerto Rico, and started to earn a reputation as a lyricist (Residente says, with some embarrassment, that his moniker at the time was "El Déspota", or "The Despot"). Meanwhile, Visitante participated in Bayanga, a rock and Brazilian batucada group. After Residente finished studying in Georgia at the Savannah College of Art and Design and earned a master of fine arts in animation, illustration, sequential art and film, he returned to Puerto Rico. Soon after, both of them started working on their music. They claim they initially did it as a joke, but they still managed to get some of their songs heard throughout Puerto Rico. They began recording music together in 2004, with the idea of hosting their work on a website, beginning with two demos ("La Tripleta" and "La Aguacatona"). Within a year, the duo began looking for a record label to distribute their music commercially. They decided to pursue a deal at White Lion Records, because Tego Calderón was on the label, whom the two admired.

edit 2005-06: "Querido F.B.I." and Calle 13:

While their first album was being mixed, Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, leader of the Puerto Rican revolutionary group known as Los Macheteros, was killed in the course of arrest by the F.B.I. Details about this raid still remain unclear, according to a Puerto Rico Department of Justice's report issued on the matter on April 2008. Angered by the F.B.I.'s action, Residente -- a supporter of the Puerto Rican independence movement -- wrote a song protesting against what had happened to Ojeda and asked his record label to allow the group to release it on the Internet through viral marketing through Indymedia Puerto Rico, an alternative news website. The song, named "Querido F.B.I." ("Dear FBI") and produced by the group and local DJ Danny Fornaris, was written, produced and published during the thirty hours immediately after Ojeda's killing. The lyrics include the phrase "Sin cojones la radio y las ventas, White Lion me dio pasaporte para tirar este corte" ("Bollocks about radio and album sales, White Lion gave me a passport permission to throw publish this cut"), evidencing Residente's wish to have the song distributed for free with permission from the label.

Public controversy about the song's lyrics ensured immediate attention from mainstream media in Puerto Rico and gave the band instant rise to local fame. The song, according to critics, "redefined what a reggaeton vocalist's relationship to Puerto Rico should be." Up to that moment, most local reggaetón artists had opted not to address political subjects in their songs. In comparison, "Querido F.B.I." became the subject of debate at a forum hosted at University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras soon after its release, and had its lyrics posted in local newspapers such as Primera Hora and Claridad. Although the song mentions the prospect of revenge for Ojeda's death, the duo asserts that the song was not intended to endorse violence.

Eventually, a video clip for the song surfaced, which combines images from Ojeda himself, his burial, scenes from historical footage from the 1954 armed attack to the United States House of Representatives by Puerto Rican nationalists, and images of everyday Puerto Ricans holding protest signs. Spanish-Puerto Rican thrash metal band "Juerguistas y Borrachos" also issued a remix of the song, adding electric guitar riffs to it. Both media items were also released to the public through viral marketing.

Soon after this, the duo rose to fame in 2005 with two back-to-back hits on Puerto Rican radio stations: "Se Vale Tó-Tó" and "Atrevete-te-te!" Both songs were later included on their eponymously titled debut album, which was released on November 29, 2005. The first song's title ("Se Vale Tó-Tó") is a play on words, subsitituting "to-to", a variation on the Puerto Rican slang term for a vagina ("toto"), for "todo" (all). An approximate translation of "se vale todo" is "all is allowed here" or, more accurately, "anything goes"; the song's chorus is a reference to grinding while dancing. Residente directed and edited the video for the song with the help of his cousin, which was filmed on a relatively small budget of US$14,000. The second single, "Atrevete-te-te!", fused Colombian cumbia with Puerto Rican slang and cultural references, and features a clarinet duo (clarinet music is often featured in music from Colombia's Caribbean coast), which is fairly reminiscent of a similar clarinet duo from Compay Segundo's song "Chan Chan." It became a major pop music hit in several Latin American countries.

After this rise to fame, the duo was sought by other reggaetón artists, and they collaborated with artists such as Voltio in the song "Ojalai" (also known as "Chulin Culin Chunfly", whose name is a minor variation of a song written by Mexican comedy writer Roberto Gómez Bolaños, of whose comedic characters Residente is a fan), and with the Three 6 Mafia in the remix, singing or co-writing songs. At the end of 2005, they finally released their album, which received great critical praise.

In 2006 the duo kept on working as they broke into a wider-music scene with at least two more smash hits that were played throughout Puerto Rico and U.S. Urban music radio and television stations, including the songs "Japón" ("Japan"), and "Suave" ("Soft/Slow"). The group had their first massive-venue concert on May 6, 2006 at the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum in San Juan. They also toured Central and South America, playing "Atrévete-te-te" before an escola de samba in Venezuelan television, and also visiting, among others, Guatemala, Chile, Honduras and Colombia. In an interview done during the production of their third album, Calle 13 stated that the production would include songs discussing poverty. The duo also noted that the production would include cumbia villera and "Sounds from Eastern Europe".

In light of the criticism directed towards the band, Calle 13 has become a cultural reference to be reckoned with in Puerto Rico. An example of this is the constant references made to the band and to Residente by satirical writer Fiquito Yunqué in the weekly pro-independence newspaper Claridad. Yunqué's columns sometimes feature Calle 13 lyrics as their titles, and Yunqué even introduced the band onstage at one of their live performances in Puerto Rico (mentioned in the section "Major success in the Americas" below).

Acceptance of Calle 13's music even influenced the former Governor of Puerto Rico, Anibal Acevedo Vilá who, in December 2005, admitted to listening to Calle 13 because his son had copied some of their songs to his iPod. Acevedo claimed that "songs such as Calle 13's were eye openers" to him. As a result, since the country had a chronic problem of people being unknowingly injured or killed by stray bullets fired to the air on New Year's Eve, Acevedo felt compelled to invite the duo to La Fortaleza and to have them record a song against shootings bullets in the air as a way of celebrating the holiday.

The single, "Ley De Gravedad" (Law of Gravity) was released as part of a public-service campaign for that matter. Some political adversaries of Acevedo dismissed this as a trick to ingratiate himself with Puerto Rican youth and pro-independence advocates, and was criticized by the local press due to the fact that an artist who seemingly promoted violence with their "Querido FBI" song was now supposed to be a role model for anti-violence. However, the campaign was thought to be effective in reducing the injured, from twelve (and one death) the previous year, to three the year the campaign was run, though many members of the artistic community contributed to this effort in separate campaigns.

Calle 13 recently teamed up with Julio Voltio to speak out against police brutality in Puerto Rico. After recording a song titled "Tributo a la Policía", Calle 13 distributed the single free on the streets in front of the Police Headquarters of San Juan.

2007: Residente o Visitante:

As the duo has risen to fame, other international artists of various genres have sought them. In 2006 and 2007, they recorded songs with Canadian Nelly Furtado and Spanish Alejandro Sanz. In their recent album, they feature contributions with such diverse groups like Orishas (a hip-hop group whose members had emigrated from Cuba), Mexican Café Tacuba, Argentine Vicentico (from Los Fabulosos Cadillacs), and La Mala Rodríguez (from Spain), among others. On May 19, 2006, the band celebrated their first international concert, held in Panama City to a crowd of 5,000. During the summer of 2006 Calle 13 was featured on MTV's My Block: Puerto Rico. From September 15-October 31 Calle 13 was Artist Speaking Tr3s on MTV Tr3s.

On November 2, 2006 the band won three Latin Grammys (Best New Artist; Best Urban Album; and Best Short Version Video, for the song Atrévete-te-te.) They later filmed a video along with Voltio for "Chulín Culín Chunfly", where Residente, dressed as a priest and later as Bruce Lee, is given a severe beating by a gang. On October 9, 2008, Calle 13 parcicipated in the "MTV Tr3s Pass Tour". "Atrévete-te-te" was a featured track on Grand Theft Auto IV, playing in the lineup of the fictional San Juan Sounds radio station. Pérez made a cameo appearance in the 2009 film Old Dogs, being casted to interpret a tattoo artist. June 22, 2011, Calle 13 performs at The Pachamama Peace Festival and supports the project together with 8 Latin American embassies as the Godparent of the Pachamama Project. A reed boat called Pachamama sails into the Norwegian fjords coming to conquer the hearts of Europeans with a historical, cultural, environmental and peace message. www.pachamamaboat.com The Pachamama project team proposes the song "Latinoamerica" as a new Latin American anthem.

On April 24, 2007, their second album Residente o Visitante was released. Tracks in the album were partially recorded in Puerto Rico and while on tour in Colombia, Argentina and Venezuela. While recording the album, Residente and Visitante took a trip to South America to explore areas populated by Latin America's indigenous and African-descended minorities. The duo was strongly influenced by the experience; Visitante discovered and purchased several new musical instruments on the trip including a quijada, a charango and a bombo legüero, all of which were used on the duo's song "Lllegale a Mi Guarida".

Residente considered this album to be darker than the first, but also more introspective and biographical. The album garnered controversy for its sexual and religious overtones. As part of the album, Calle 13 filmed the video for their first single off the album, "Tango del Pecado", on February 25, 2007. The video suggests a surreal sequence where Residente and Denise Quiñones are married in a garden, with barbed wire physically separating their families, Sunshine Logroño dressed as an archbishop to marry them, Tego Calderón and Voltio acting as best men, and various peculiar characters surrounding them. Gustavo Santaolalla intervened in the song's production.

On November 8, 2007, Calle 13, along with Orishas, performed the song "Pa'l Norte" at the 8th Annual Latin Grammy Awards, held at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Their live performance featured the percussion/dance group Stomp. A troupe of dancers dressed in traditional Latin American garb and wearing bandannas in their faces (as if they were bandits) were also featured. Two members of the traditional Colombian folk cumbia band Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto, as well as members from an indigenous tribe local to the Gaiteros' hometown in northern Colombia, followed Residente to the stage at the beginning of the song. The subtext of the presentation was that Latin Americans were "invading the North" (the United States) and were there to stay.

Calle 13 earned two Latin Grammys later that night: "Best Urban Music Album" for Residente o Visitante and "Best Urban Song" for "Pal Norte". The Gaiteros de San Jacinto, who had also received a Grammy for their album "Un Fuego de Sangre Pura", could only accept it when Calle 13 intervened to finance their trip to Las Vegas and obtain a temporary visa to visit the United States on their behalf.

The group's presentation was considered by critics and many viewers of the award ceremony as the highlight of the night. One approving viewer, sitting in the audience at the Center (and who was mentioned in ad libbed comments by Residente during the song) was salsa singer and international media celebrity Rubén Blades. Blades is quoted as saying: "That combination of urban (feel), particularly the indigenous people's entrance, made such a big spiritual impression on me that I think it is one of the most special moments I've ever witnessed, as far as live presentations go". Blades later received Residente and Visitante in his native Panama, served as their host for one of the video podcasts in his website, and publicly gave them a copy of one of his songs' lyrics, expecting them to at least consider using them in a future musical collaboration.

A later tour of the Americas had Calle 13 perform to sell-out crowds in Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina. The band also performed in the United States, including an appearance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on April 27, 2008.

The band received all three possible audience acceptance awards when they performed at the 2008 Viña del Mar International Song Festival in, Viña del Mar, Chile, taming the usually demanding crowd (traditionally nicknamed "El Monstruo", or "The Monster" -because of its fickleness- by Chilean media). They also performed to a sold-out crowd at Luna Park in Buenos Aires, Argentina. They finished their tour at the 34th. Annual Claridad Support Festival in San Juan on April 24, 2008, performing for one of the largest crowds ever assembled at the Festival (according to the newspaper's directorship board). Denise Quiñones joined the band onstage for their abbreviated song set.

2008-2010: Los de Atrás Vienen Conmigo:

On October 21, 2008 their third album, Los de Atrás Vienen Conmigo, was released. A series of songs off the album began to be released weekly as singles. Four singles were released: "Que Lloren" (September 16, 2008); "Electro Movimiento" (September 23, 2008); "Fiesta de Locos" (September 30, 2008); and "No Hay Nadie Como Tú", the latter featuring Café Tacuba. On August 11, 2009, the duo was invited to Ecuador by Rafael Correa's government, serving as guests in the local celebrations that commemorate the coup that began the Ecuadorian War of Independence. They played in Quito, performing in Estadio Olímpico Atahualpa for the first time, in an activity that included Nueva Canción: Argentina, León Gieco and speeches by Correa, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, deposed president of Honduras Manuel Zelaya, Cuban president Raúl Castro and Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega. During the performance Residente said that he wished Puerto Rico could be an independent country such as Ecuador.

On October 15, 2009, Calle 13 won the Premios MTV Latinoamérica for "Best Urban Artist". Pérez also served as host throughout the ceremony, using this exposure to insult Puerto Rican governor Luis Fortuño and comment about a civilian general strike that was organized earlier that day, held to protest the firing of more than 25,000 public employees by Fortuño's administration. Pérez generated much controversy after referring to Fortuño as an "hijo de la gran puta". The phrase is commonly translated as "son of a bitch", although it should be noted that the phrase places emphasis on the mother of the subject being a prostitute, which many found disrespectful to Fortuño's mother. Fortuño responded by saying "This individual disrespected all Puerto Rican women, all Puerto Rican mothers and the people of Puerto Rico in general."

Los de Atrás Vienen Conmigo was nominated in five categories for the 2009 Latin Grammy Awards winning all of them, including 'Album of the Year', 'Best Urban Album', 'Record of the Year' and 'Best Alternative Song' for the hit single "No Hay Nadie Como Tu" along with Café Tacuba, as well as 'Best Music Video (in Short Format)' for "La Perla" featuring salsa legend Rubén Blades. The winners were announced on November 5, 2009, in a ceremony held at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

On March 23, 2010, the band presented their first concert in Cuba, the event was held at the José Martí Anti-Imperialist Plaza before an estimated crowd that ranged between 500,000 to 900,000 followers. The band performed "No Hay Nadie Como Tú", "La Cumbia de los Aburridos", "Se Vale Tó-Tó", "La Hormiga Brava", "Un Beso de Desayuno", "Pa'l Norte", "Fiesta de Locos", "Querido FBI", "La Jirafa" and "Tango del Pecado", before adding "Electro Movimiento" and "Atrévete te-te" due to popular demand. During this event, Calle 13 received the international Cubadisco award from representatives of the Instituto Cubano de la Música (lit. Cuban Music Institute). The group originally planned to participate in Paz Sin Fronteras II, but were unable to acquire visas in time.

The band has also filmed a documentary. The film, Sin Mapa, is about their journeys through South America and the land's indigenous culture and art. The movie became available on iTunes and DVD on July 28, 2010.

2010-present: Entren Los Que Quieran:

Calle 13 released their latest album, Entren Los Que Quieran, on November 22, 2010. The singles "Calma Pueblo" and "Vamo' a Portarnos Mal" have been released to the iTunes Music Store. Visitante explained that the title of the album means that "Everyone's invited to enter. If you don't want to, well don't." He also stated that the album continues to experiment with different styles of music, with collaborations with Omar Rodríguez-López from The Mars Volta on "Calma Pueblo", giving the song a "Beastie Boys vibe." He stated that there would also be influences from Bollywood and South American rhythms. The promotional tour for Entren Los Que Quieran featured over a hundred presentations in 2011, spaning most of Latin America and parts of Europe. Among the most notable being serving as the sole representation of Puerto Rico at the inauguration of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and their performance at the 2011 Viña del Mar Festival, where Calle 13 decided to go against the event's rules, refusing further awards beyond a "Silver Torch" in order to avoid further interruption, despite being the most clamored artist in that night. On November 19, 2011, the group offered a concert in El Salvador where the entrance gate was fully paid in rice and beans, the collected food was subsequently donated to flood victims in that country. Pérez also remixed an exclusive version of "El Hormiguero" for four-time world boxing champion Miguel Cotto, who used it in his entrance prior to a successful title defense on December 3, 2011.

Upon release, the music video for "Calma Pueblo" generated controversy for its violence and full-frontal nudity, which the band claims is a metaphor for self-liberation. The album received more nominations for the 12th Latin Grammy Awards than any other production that year. It went on to win eight categories in total "Album of the Year", "Best Urban Music Album" and "Producer of the Year" in general; "Best Urban Song" for "Baile de los Pobres"; "Best Tropical Song for "Vamo' a Potarnos Mal"; "Best Short Form Music Video" for "Calma Pueblo"; "Song of the Year" and "Record of the Year" for "Latinoamérica". Following this ceremony, Calle 13 emerged as the artist or group with most awards won in the event with 19, besting Juanes' 17. This accomplishment also shaterred several records, including "Most Honored Album", "Most Latin Grammies won in one night" and increased their leadership in the "Most Latin Grammies won by a a group" category to 13 more than their closest competitors.

On December 22, 2011, the group received the Medalla Ramón Emeterio Betances from the Ateneo Puertorriqueño, the oldest cultural institution in Puerto Rico, as part of their Puerto Rican Flag Day celebrations. In the event, Pérez was heralded as the "Roberto Clemente of modern music" by host Luis Gutierrez, only to respond that he was "merely another member of the Puerto Rican people who decided to express his message". However, he admitted that being recognized in his motherland held more weight than any other award received during his career.

Musical style

Although most people have labeled Calle 13's music as reggaeton, they have tried to distance themselves from the style. Visitante, being a professional musician, tries to fuse diverse styles in the group's songs. Early cuts featured elements from jazz, bossa nova and salsa, while recent songs feature cumbia, tango, electronica and others. In their recent tours around Latin America they have added different musical elements according to the place the band is playing in, yet many of their songs carry the traditional reggaeton "Dem Bow" beat such as in their hit "Tango del Pecado" and the remix to "Suave".

Singer Residente is reluctant to label their music in a specific genre, instead calling it plain urban style. In an interview with Rueben Blades, Rene mentioned that he is wary of making generic hip hop and traditional reggaeton. He added that even though he welcomes the "urbanity" of Hip Hop, he does not consider it to be an authentic Latin American musical expression. On the other hand he believes that reggaeton has become generic and watered down with pop aesthetics. Calle 13 has maintained a healthy distance from the orthodoxy of reggaeton and both he and his brother justify it by saying that only three songs out of fifteen songs in their eponymous debut album, as well as four out of fifteen songs in their album Residente o Visitante, feature reggaetón beats. Residente said of the group's musical style "I love to mix things up, like on our song 'La Jirafa'. We have drumming from Brazil combined with the theme music from the film Amélie. It's a pretty song, a love song for a woman, but it's about Puerto Rico too. I think this why people like our music, because - sexually speaking or politically speaking - it's just very genuine."

Residente's lyrical style is inspired partly by the lyrical approach used by artists such as Vico C and Tego Calderón, trying to minimize what they refer to as "clichés" of the genre -such as open confrontations with other rappers, known in Spanish as tiradera (pronounced tiɾaˈeɾa in Puerto Rican dialect). He attempts to stray away from the "wannabe gangster aesthetic" typical of reggaeton music. Residente's trademark is a lyrical style full of sarcasm, satire, parody and shock value, which some critics and fans have likened to Eminem's. Jason Birchmeier of Allmusic writes that Residente's lyrical style and delivery "eschews reggaeton's clichés, showcasing a healthy sense of humor and an almost clownish approach to sarcasm...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." Residente also utilizes Puerto Rican slang considerably (which in turn incorporates a sizeable dose of Spanglish), as well as allegory. Early in his career, Residente expressed a desire to write lyrics only in Spanish, however he has recently stated that he will begin to write more lyrics in English in order to help communicate with English-speaking listeners.

Residente's distinctive lyrics treat a wide and eclectic variety of subjects. He mentions (and sometimes derides) celebrities and known icons such as Mickey Mouse, Redman, and 2Pac, in "Tengo Hambre" (I'm Hungry); 50 Cent in "La Crema" (The Cream); Madonna ("I mean, Maradona", Residente says) in "Sin Exagerar" (Without Exaggeration); Puerto Rican singer Nydia Caro (rather affectionately) in "La Era de la Copiaera", wrestler Abdullah the Butcher in "Tributo a la Policía" (A Tribute to Police), he also made a diss track to Diddy in the song "Pi-Di-Di-Di (La Especialidad de la Casa)" (House Specialty) and most controversially, his diss track aimed at the Federal Bureau of Investigation in "Querido F.B.I." (Dear F.B.I.). The song "A Limpiar El Sucio" (Cleaning Up The Dirty One) is rumored to be a veiled (some say direct) attack on Puerto Rican entertainment journalist Milly Cangiano.

Visitante, on the other hand, is strongly influenced by electronica, world music, and particularly Latin American folk and popular music. Recently, Visitante has claimed to be influenced by music from Central Europe such as Fanfare Ciocarlia (particularly its collaboration with Roma band Kaloome, also known as "The Gypsy Kings and Queens") and Emir Kusturica's group, "The No Smoking Orchestra". He also stated that his musician father introduced the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix to him at a young age, which has greatly influenced his music. In live presentations, Visitante can be seen playing a variety of instruments: an electric guitar, synthesizers, an accordion, a melodica, a Puerto Rican cuatro and a theremin.