Calle 13, Did He Just Say Something About Green Day and Salsa?
This week’s ridiculous lyric has less to do with the actual lyrics and more to do with what it’s like for a gringa who is learning Spanish to encounter clever lyricists who enjoy their word-play. Calle 13 steps onto our radar this week with their 2001 hit song “Atrévete-te-te” from their self-titled album. I have an enormous amount of respect for this Puerto Rican duo because they are incredibly talented and manage to pack social momentum and critique into their lyrics while still being funny. After dominating the 2011 Latin Grammy’s it is especially impossible to deny their success.
But 7 years ago when I first encountered this song, I had no idea yet who Calle 13 was or how truly amazing they were (and still are). Also, I had just started learning Spanish (for the first time), and that made figuring out the meaning of “Atrévete-te-te” even more difficult. When you first start learning a new language, cognates are pretty much your best friends. They’re that little helpful hint that let’s you know…kind of…what’s up. It’s also extremely useful when bits of English are sprinkled into the conversation…well, sometimes. Other times, these seemingly helpful clues can also make things more confusing when you simply can not figure what is going on. With this in mind, I offer you this week’s lyric:
que importa si te gusta green day,
que importa si te gusta cold play
esto es directo sin parar one way,
yo te lo juro de que por ley
aquí todas las boricuas saben karate
ellas cocina con salsa de tomate,
There are clearly some recognizable vocab words in there, but when they’re being fired at you in rapid-fire Puerto Rican rap…we poor gringas are kind of left to fend for ourselves. These days I can happily report that I’m much less confused, and I’m able to appreciate Calle 13 for their talent and enduring relevance without wondering what Green Day has to do with salsa.
Haven’t heard this song (or want to hear it again)?? Check out the video aquì: