Calle 13


If you’re from the US, there’s a decent chance you haven’t heard of Calle 13. They’ve seen US stateside popularity, but their greatest fan bases seem to lie in Latin America. However if you’re form California or maybe Texas, there’s also a decent chance you’ve heard a Spanish speaking friend lay down all (or some) of the words to the song “¡Atrévete Te, Te!,” much to the disliking of his mom.

The group is comprised of two Puerto Rican half-brothers, and combines aspects of reggaeton, cumbia and electro with twists of pop, rock, and Latin folk influence. Just for good measure, the term reggaeton appears to mostly be used in Puerto Rican music contexts and is a hybrid between hip-hop and dance-hall reggae.

Their lyrics tend to be poetic, sarcastic, explicit and political.

They’ve performed and recorded with the likes of Three Six Mafia, Shakira, Tom Morello, Julian Assange and Gustavo Dudamel (conductor of the LA Philharmonic). Long story short, they’ve a little bit of everything.

As the brothers of Calle 13 are from Puerto Rico, I felt it necessary to incorporate some basic information on the territory.

It’s here:

• The island has a population of 3.7 million.

• Its culture is a blend of Native, Spanish and African influences (Christopher Columbus first claimed it in 1493)

• Citizens of Puerto Rico are US citizens with US passports, however the island does not have US statehood.

• The territory currently holds “commonwealth status” along with Northern Mariana Islands.

• Puerto Ricans are not allowed to vote in US Presidential elections.

• There is a major economic recession on the island and in effect 64,000 of its residents moved to the US mainland in 2014.


Below is a grand translation of their song “Latinoamérica (feat. Totó la Momposina, Susana Baca & María Rita)”:


I am, I am what they left behind, I am the leftovers of what they stole,


A town hidden on the peak,
My skin is made of leather that’s why it stands any climate,
I am a factory of smoke,
Country hand labor for your consumerism,
A cold front in the middle of the summer,
“Love in The Times of Cholera” my brother!
The sun that is born, and the day that dies
with the best sunsets,
I am progress in flesh and blood,
A political speech left without breath,
The prettiest faces I have ever known,
I am the photograph of a “desaparecido”,
The blood in your veins,
I am a piece of land that is worthwhile
A basket of beans,
I am Maradona against England scoring two goals,
I am what holds up my flag,
The planet’s backbone is my mountain range.
I am what my father taught me,
He who does not love his homeland does not love his mother,
I am Latin America
A nation without legs that walks nonetheless.
You cannot buy the wind,
You cannot buy the sun
You cannot buy the rain,
You cannot buy the warmth,
You cannot buy the clouds,
You cannot buy my happiness,
You cannot buy my pain.
I have the lakes, I have the rivers,
I have my teeth for when I smile,
The snow that paints my mountains,
I have the sun that dries me and the rain that bathes me,
A desert drunk with peyote,
A drink of pulque to sing with the coyotes,
Everything I need!
I have my lungs breathing clear blue air.
The suffocating height,
I am the molars of my mouth
chewing coca leaves,
The autumn with its fainted leaves,
The verses written under the starry nights,
A vineyard ripe with grapes,
A cane field under the sun in Cuba,
I am the Caribbean sea watching over the little houses,
Performing rituals with holy water.
The wind that combs my hair,
I am all the saints that hang from my neck.
The juice of my battle is not artificial because the fertilizer of my land is all-natural.
(chorus x1)
(chorus sung in portuguese)
You cannot buy the sun
You cannot buy the rain
(Let’s walk forward)
(let’s walk forward)
(Let’s go drawing the path)
You cannot buy my life
My land is not for sale.
I work like a brute but with pride,
Here we share,
What’s mine is yours.
This nation does not drown with disorders, and if it falls, I reconstruct it.
Nor do I blink when i look at you,
So you remember my surname.
Operation Condor destroying my nest,
I forgive but I never forget, hey!
(let’s walk forward)
In here you can breathe struggle
(let’s walk forward)
I sing to be heard
(let’s go drawing the path)
(let’s walk forward)
Here we stand upright
Long live the Americas!
You cannot buy my life.


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