Titled Pope Francis: Wake Up!, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, aka the Dope Pope, dropped the sickest mixtape the streets of the Vatican will ever produce, and nobody noticed it.
No, you won’t hear Francis doing a trap version of “Spirit in the sky.” Jorge is darker. On his street-wise LP, Sir Preach-a-lot churns out hard-ass monologues, all of which have been written and recorded with various collaborators:
“Under the art direction of Don Giulio Neroni, who also curated other albums for Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, various Italian artists and producers also contributed to the music like Giorgio Kriegsch, Mite Balduzzi, Giuseppe Dati, Lorenzo Piscopo, the orchestral director Dino Doni, and former member of Italian progressive rock band Le Orme.”
Sure, Bergoglio is not producing his own tracks à la Dr. Dre, but that doesn’t make Pope Francis: Wake Up! any less incisive, penetrating, and epic — like, Cradle of Filth level of epic.
Take “Wake up! Go! Go!” — sadly, it’s not a Wham! cover — but a fine prog rock track that’s been mixed with a horn section from the middle ages. On “La fe es entera,” Francis tells his listeners that “it’s scandalous that God arrived and became one of us — it’s just a scandal. The scandal of the cross is… well, still a scandal.”
But the real scandal are the Pope’s rhymes, which are quite somber. On “¿Por qué sufren los niños? [why do children suffer?], Bergoglio, true to Catholic dogma, preaches all the hard truths, such as “this world needs to cry more.” Why? Because Catholics mustn’t have any happy thoughts without feeling terrible about it. Doing so is like pounding ten rusty nails into Jesus’ already-mangled appendages.
Perhaps not sonically, but thematically Pope Francis: Wake Up! makes Bauhaus’ “Stigmata martyr” sound like “Despacito.” Not all of it, of course. “Pace! Fratelli!” sounds like an Enya-penned track that’s been produced by Giorgio Moroder, but sung by castrated monks.
Letters to Rictus: “My girlfriend supports #MeToo, but loves reggaeton. She’s tripping, right?”
Doña Rictus, my girlfriend is smart, young, fun-loving Latina. She’s college-educated, has a good job, pays her taxes, and comes from a relatively conservative family, like most Latinos.
She’s cultured and politically active. Earlier this year she participated in the Women’s March and, when she’s not going to design fairs, or some indie rock concert, she’ll digest all the lefty publications.
Then she gets drunk. After she sips on the Devil’s nectar, she turns into a Sábado Gigante model who’s been hypnotized and asked to sweep the floor with her ass. She’ll scream “¡Hasta abajo!” and “¡Dale con todo!” and other shocking phrases our Bernie Sanders-voting friends always reel from.
As a progressive, and as a woman, she’s obviously very supportive of the #MeToo movement. But we’ve gotten into arguments over how reggaeton has always been at odds with true feminism. She’s not a silly Maluma apologist yet, but I’m afraid she may turn into one soon, and that’s a strain our relationship can not handle.
– Yo También Quiero Que Te Respetes
*Takes off reading glasses*
Curiously, dear Rictus reader, NPR’s Alt-Latino published a podcast about this subject earlier today. In it, the participants discussed the advances “el género” (reggaeton) has made towards being less misogynist.
Most people will probably agree that old-school reggaeton is, without a doubt, extremely misogynist. New reggaeton has been sanitized for mass consumption. It’s less offensive, but calling it “feminist” would be like calling Don Francisco “entertaining.”
In fact, besides a few female performers, such as Ivy Queen, women still have almost no representation in reggaeton (see #7 here).
Some disingenuous people have been trying to pass “Despacito” as an achievement for women because it was co-written by a woman, but the harsh truth is that Luis Fonsi’s song is still about a guy who aggressively hits on a girl, and the lyrics leave a lot to be desired:
“Si te pido un beso, ven dámelo (If I ask you for a kiss, come give it to me)… Quiero, quiero, quiero ver cuánto amor a ti te cabe (I want to see how much of my love you can fit in)”
But talking about misogyny in music — or life, really — remains an uncomfortable subject. Even Roxanne Gay, a very smart, popular, and beloved feminist, has conflicting feelings when it comes to enjoying hip-hop, reggaeton’s first-world cousin:
“It’s really difficult. You hear some hip hop, and it’s just such great music, or great lyrics, or a great beat, and it grabs your interest. Then you pause and you listen to the lyrics, and they’re really damaging, or unnecessarily misogynistic. And you’re like, ‘What do you do?’
If you’re so principled that you decide that I’m going to have a zero-tolerance policy, the reality is that you’re not going to be listening to anything.”
I do have an idea, mijo. Wisin, a popular reggaetonero, revealed that women used to make up over half their audience, even when their music was at its most offensive:
“In the early days [of Wisin & Yandel], our lyrics were much more explicit and a lot of times it came across as offensive to women, who found it degrading. But women still made up about 60 or 70 % of the people buying our music, not just physical albums but digital sales.”
Considering those high numbers, it’s very much within the grasp of Latinas to influence the music industry through their buying power.
So fuck misogynist reggaetoneros. Next time your girlfriend gets wasted, begins to mop the floor with her butt, and starts shouting those aggressive phrases the Bernie Bros don’t know what to do with, put on some Mula, not Maluma.
Latino dad — still really into ska, for some reason — keeps embarrassing his children
Jorge Duran is a soon-to-be 50-year-old man who lives in Los Angeles. He’s got three kids, and they live in constant fear of being embarrassed by their father. “My dad is just too old to be wearing checkered pants,” says Pedro, Jorge’s eldest. “He’s always going on about The Specials, Reel Big Fish, Panteón Rococó, and other bands no one cares about anymore.”
Musicologists are still puzzled by Latino men an their fixation on ska, a genre that “should’ve gone out of style immediately after Bradley Nowell’s overdose,” says one Dr. Reed Trombone.
“My friends and I were listening to Bad Bunny the other day when my dad suddenly kicked open my room’s door,” said Roman, Jorge’s 16-year-old son. “‘Fuck this trap bullshit,’ he yelled. Dad also kept trying to dock his Galaxy 2 on my iPhone X dock, which obviously didn’t work, and said something about how we’re ‘going to love Rey Azúcar by the Fabulous Chevys,’ or some other car brand. We ended up taking him to the hospital because he fractured his fibula.”
Yet, Jorge claims he’s the one who’s entitled to feel embarrassed by his family, not the other way around. “These little punks don’t know shit about good, independent music. They don’t even know how to dance! I tried to teach them how to do the skinhead stomp or very basic skanking, but nada. They just look like pendejos when they thrust their pelvis to that reggaeton. Makes me wanna kick their asses with my cherry red Docs.”
This Saturday Jorge is planning to join thousands of chavorucos in Mexico City, where the Non Stop Ska music festival is being held. “It’s gonna be great for us,” says Mariana, Jorge’s daughter. “We’ve been planning to have a carne asada in the backyard this weekend. Our friends usually cut out early because dad always plays a horrible Ska-P Spotify playlist he keeps on his Galaxy.”