After earning a record-breaking 28 Grammy awards (more than any other Latin artist), Puerto Rican rapper Rene Pérez Joglar, aka Residente, recorded a long overdue debut episode of “Austin City Limits” Sunday night at ACL Live.
The master lyricist, also a featured artist at the television show’s namesake festival this year, took the crowd on a journey around the world as he performed songs from his 2017 self-titled solo debut album. Inspired by a DNA test he took years ago, Residente traveled to many of the countries and regions that formed a part of his genetic makeup from Armenia to Africa.
The result turned out to be a powerful lesson in understanding and cultural bridge building. Residente chronicled his journey in a self-titled documentary that premiered at South by Southwest last spring.
On stage Sunday, Residente told fans he was going to speak both English and Spanish, in case not everyone was a Spanish speaker. “We include people, we don’t exclude them,” he told the roaring crowd.
Residente, backed by a commanding seven-piece band of global musicians, hailing from Morocco to Argentina, kicked off his set with “Somos Anormales,” the first single of the “Residente” album.
For years as rapper and co-founder of the alternative rap duo “Calle 13,” Residente shocked, pushed musical boundaries, sparked controversy, and raised awareness about political and social justice issues. As a soloist, he’s exploring new musical heights.
“I wanted to connect with other musicians around the world,” he told fans of his new music.
In his travels to Africa — where everyone “even Donald Trump’s mother” has roots — Residente said he met with Dagomba tribal singers in northern Ghana to create the high-energy “Dagombas en Tamale,” which gave the band’s superb percussionists the opportunity to fire up the crowd.
Turning anger into his signature rapid-fire rhymes has led to the creation of songs such as “Calma Pueblo” and “Adentro.”
Residente shared with the audience how difficult it is for some artists to create honest music, adding that nowadays many performers get caught up in how many Instragram followers they gain and end up chasing numbers instead of focusing on music and people.
Residente’s goosebump-inducing “Latinoamérica” earned him a standing ovation and the audience was later treated to a sought-after but unexpected encore of a reimagined version of the Calle 13 song “Atrévete Te, Te!”