Mala Rodriguez

SUPEREGO We descendents of the conquered love to ridicule modern Spaniards as a bunch of lispers—so what Latino could have possibly imagined that a country full of sibilant wusses could produce as stunning a hip-hop album as Lujo Ibérico (Iberian Luxury), the American debut of María “La Mala” (The Bad) Rodríguez? More Missy Elliot than Lil' Kim, the beautifully raspy Rodríguez ably dispatches a memoir for the New Spanish in “En Mi Ciudad Hace Caló”: “In my songs, I speak of action/Of ham [Iberian slang for “heroin”], of corruption, of police/Of anger and beauty, of hot and cold blood.” And from there, Mala is off, with graphic tales of drug abuse, the mean streets of Madrid, and a streak of loveless sex that quickly deflates any romantic notions about the land of Cervantes. Woven around this cynicism are pretty hip-hop beats and beefed-up, thumping dancehall rhythms. But the best noise on Lujo Ibérico is the flamenco. Sometimes Mala uses castanets; other times, she'll substitute cymbals or electronic beats to keep up the furious rhythm. And it's always amazing.

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