You probably missed one of ACL Fest 2018's best performances. But for the modest herd gathered Saturday evening at the Barton Springs stage, Residente's self-described "cumbia punk" was charged catharsis.
The 40-year-old Puerto Rican rapper, a veteran of hip-hop outfit Calle 13, leaned into his politics and put extra sauce on old lyrics that loosely translate to: "we endure the guilty when they're freed, we endure our idiot president." That one's from Calle 13's 2014 screed "El Aguante," but the "presidente" lyrics here got extra oomph from the converted. Flags from the Caribbean and Mexico waved near the Google phone pop-up lounge.
"Even Donald Trump's mother has blood from Africa," he yelled between songs. Across the street, Lil Wayne, Justice and Metallica performed beloved Western pop — this was a protest.
"It's important for me that these (expletive) who speak English understand what I'm saying," the rapper born René Juan Pérez Joglar told patrons. He was referring to the onlookers into the rhythms but disconnected by the message because of the language barrier. His message was about unity, the kind of humanist kindness that comes from career globetrotting. The vibrant rap music was rhythmic, well-traveled and chant-fueled; he shouted out his Moroccan percussionist for leading his seven-piece backing band.
Residente didn't mind the turnout, either, complaining onstage that he's tired of music being measured in "followers on Instagram and YouTube views. ... People make us relevant. You guys have soul. Numbers don't have soul."
2001 hit "Atrévete-te-te," a fun reggeaton jam, here played like a barnburner.
"Thank you for not having a cell phone out," he said. "Let's hug each other. Abrazo!"
Loud rap music was the vehicle on Saturday night. It was combative and flippant. But the “love others” call-to-arms is right in line with ACL's hippie roots.
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