Calle 13

Calle 13 - Photo of Calle 13 at the 8th Annual Grammy Awards
Calle 13 - Photo of Calle 13 at the 8th Annual Grammy Awards. Kevin Winter /Getty Images

Calle 13 (13th Street) has emerged to become Latin music's premier urban music group. Not liking the title of a reggaeton band, Calle 13's music is unique. Their lyrics are socially conscious, controversial and often satiric, relying more on the message than on common stereotypes such as the a misogynistic view of women or advocacy of violence. While their music often incorporates the 'dem bow' rhythm identic to reggaeton, they also experiment with a fusion of other styles and rhythms that bring the Puerto Rican group's music a fresh sound that is remaking today's Latin urban music.

Calle 13 – The Name:

Rene Perez and Eduardo Cabra are stepbrothers; Perez’ mother, actress Flor Joglar de Gracia married Cabra’s father, a lawyer and ex-musician. The couple eventually divorced but the stepbrothers remained close. When they were young, Perez lived at a gated community on Calle 13 and when Cabra came to visit, the guard at the gate would ask: Residente o Visitante? Thus, Perez took the name Residente (resident) and Cabra became Visitante (visitor).

Rene Perez – Residente:

Rene Perez Joglar was born Feb. 23, 1978 in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico. He grew up writing poetry and songs. He studied accounting at Escuela de Artes Plasticas but his creative drive drew him in other directions. He continued his education at Savannah University in Georgia, where he turned to animation with an eye towards a career in multi-media. Before turning to a full-time musical career, he filmed videos for art galleries and wrote songs and short films.

Eduardo Cabra - Visitante:

Eduardo Jose Cabra Martinez was born on Sept. 10, 1278 in Santurce, Puerto Rico. Showing an interest in music from an early age, Cabra took piano lessons from famed maestro, Jose Acevedo. He initiated his music studies at the Music Conservatory and later attended the Manolo Acosta School of the Arts, experimenting and mastering saxophone and flute as well as the piano. Eventually, he taught himself classical guitar.

Brothers in Music:

In 2004 Residente and Visitante began recording music together; their hope was to present their music to the world via website. They wrote a few songs and after about a year they sent a demo tape to White Lion Records, a small reggaeton label founded by Elias de Leon. They were soon signed to the label.

'Calle 13' - Debut Album:

Calle 13’s self-titled debut album contained two songs that were already hits on the Puerto Rican airwaves. “Se Vale To-To” (All Is Allowed) was the first and Residente directed and edited the song’s video clip. Next came “Atreve-te-te” where Calle 13 featured an unlikely but effective clarinet accompaniment that was an early indication that this was a group that was going to go their own way.

Calle 13 was released in 2005 but was slow to catch on in the U.S. although it did go platinum based primarily on its popularity in Puerto Rico. But here the critics and fellow musicians were ahead of the fans; Calle 13 won 3 Latin Grammy awards for the album, including ‘Best New Artist.’

'Residente o Visitante':

In 2007, Calle 13 released their sophomore album, Residente o Visitante. Residente o Visitante confirmed the eclectic direction of the group’s music. The album’s first single was “Tango del Pecado” (Tango of Sin). While “Atreve-te-te” fuses reggaeton with cumbia, “Tango del Pecado” is an effective mix of reggaeton and Argentine tango and features Gustavo Santaolalla and his Bajofondo Tango Club.

Calle 13 was making contact with admired artists and Residente o Visitante features collaborations with Cuba’s Orishas on “Pa’l Norte,” and Spain’s La Mala Rodriguez on “Mala Suerta con el 13,” among others.

'Sin Mapa':

In 2007 Residente and Visitante spent much of the year touring through South America; they picked-up a number of local instruments, many of which were incorporated into the album’s musical arrangements.

Another result of the trip was the documentary, Sin Mapa.Sin Mapa chronicles the duo (with the help of sister Ileana) touring South America with an eye towards discovering indigenous music, culture and (perhaps) enlightenment.

'Las De Atras Vienen Conmigo':

2008 saw the release of their next studio album, Las De Atras Vienen Conmigo (Those in the Back Come with Me). Continuing the trend of staying musically unpredictable, the album features a host of styles and guest artists on hit singles including Ruben Blades on “La Perla,” Café Tacvba on “No Hay Nadie Como Tu’ and Afrobeta on “Electro Movimiento.”

Calle 13 and Las De Atras were the big winners at the 2009 Latin Grammy Awards, turning all their nominations gold and taking home five statues.

Calle 13 Albums

  • Calle 13 (2005)
  • Residente o Visitante (2007)
  • Los De Atras Vienen Conmigo (2008)
  • Sin Mapa (DVD,2009)