Writing and recording music during a global pandemic is a challenging proposition even for those artists who are lucky enough to have a streamlined home studio and a robust means of distribution. Puerto Rican rapper MalaCara has had more obstacles to hurdle. When lockdown started in the spring, he received a pack of beats from the producer Ibn Itaka, and quickly started writing over them. The five songs he put down on paper over the next week, from the incendiary "TikTok" to the more introspective "Lola," dealt head-on with life in lockdown, and getting them out quickly made sense, but he didn't have the equipment on hand to put them down professionally. So, at Itaka's suggestion, he recorded his lines in WhatsApp voice messages (with the help of singer Pajaro, who features throughout). Itaka mastered them as best as he could, and a mini-project, “Toque De Queda En Macondo,” named for the fictional town in Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, was ready to go.
MalaCara wanted to take the project a step further before release, bringing in local filmmaking duo LimbelCity to record an extended video that would bring all five tracks together, but that was beset by its own challenges, not least the 5.5 magnitude earthquake that hit Puerto Rico's southern coast in May. You can see the effects of the earthquake in Toque De Queda En Macondo, as MalaCara wanders the streets, dealing with the day-to-day frustrations of life in lockdown.
“What I represent is oppressed people that don’t give up, that struggle and fight each day to survive, that look forward to a better time and future,” MalaCara said in a statement to The FADER. “I speak to my people from the projects and the hood. I speak to the people that don’t have the tools but still look for the ways to do better. My ideology is to live and to help others live; don’t do harm but don’t take shit from nobody.”
Watch the full short film at the top of the page.