El Mariel

posted November 02, 2006 10:08:58 AM CST | 25 comments

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El Mariel definitely sounded promising. This historical event has rarely been touched on and who better to discuss the significance, depth and richness of the story than a Cuban rapper who has already established himself as a mainstream act to be reckoned with? However, as we have seen in the past, what seems good doesn't always turn out that way.

The album kicks off with a nice introduction by a spoken-word artist. "Miami Shit" and "Come See Me" follow it up with a powerful thump and an exceptional flow. This can be found throughout the album. What lacks at times lies in the content. "Ay Chico," "Be Quiet," "Descarada," "Jealouso," "Voodoo" and "Bojangles" all serve the exact same purpose, and none go beyond your average radio/club track. Granted, thanks to the variety of producers, these beats will make a club dance floor fill up, but none contain any real lyricism or rhyme schemes. Pit's flow and the club banger instrumentals make up for the lack of lyrical originality here but the amount of tracks that sound like this may be too much monotony for some to avoid.

Pit later shows he is capable of lyrical dexterity with "Blood is Thicker Than Water" and "Raindrops." He demonstrates this by showing a higher level of thinking that extends beyond the average Tony Montana dream: "There's no looking or turning back/I used to watch coke turn to crack/But that's what made me turn to rap."

Pit goes on to discus the agony of poverty, betrayal and the government's role in his life. Later, he shows the impact his father's death has had on him on "Raindrops." The track is given a great musical boost by the show-stealing voice of Anjuli Stars. It's important to note that this album isn't for everybody. He has many tracks in Spanish/English ("Que Tu Sabes D'Esto," "Ay Chico," "Voodoo") and one that is completely in Spanish ("Dime Remix"). The language barrier wasn't a problem for me, but it likely offers nothing for any listeners unfamiliar with Spanish.

The main gripe is in his topic selection. Why name an album after such an important time in Cuban-American life if you aren't going to rap about it? Instead, we get a variety of cookie-cutter club tracks, loud choruses about dancing and not enough substance to balance this out. Worse yet, the spoken word artists in the interludes "murder" him on his own shit (word to Nas). They touch on the Mariel Boatlift, Hurricane Katrina, George Bush and how we are all united in a fight for freedom. It would've been nice for the actual artist on the album to do some real talk himself.

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