September 2 2014
While the world talks about whether Iggy Azalea is the current herald of rap – and speculates whether she writes her own lyrics, we can be rest assured that it’s come to this. Hip-hop as a genre has reached that phase in which everyone wants their piece of cake and fret at nothing to get some, and more often than not, its major themes have little to do with the reality of said (in)authentic authors. Keeping-it-real is a phrase every 4-year-old knows now and even worse, people make fun of it ironically. Keeping it real like that is as representative of real as my photoshopped Tinder avatar is. But, that’s the kind of real we get these days.
Somewhere though, hip-hop still serves as the chosen form to convey stories of personal struggles, by which I don’t only mean the topics of boasting about the scales of purchasing power one has managed to acquire. Not that these themes don’t matter, but some struggles are different than the others, and we (some of us at least) seem to forget that for the sake of entertainment. Someone, somewhere tells their story and it’s as real as it gets, and you’d hear it if you weren’t consumed by the semi-ironic approach to a genre that suffers a violent case of cultural appropriation.
With that said, it’s challenging to write about a rap artist whose language I don’t understand and normally, I’d be wary of writing about a culture I know very little about. Most probably I’d consider it an act of professional suicide. Here and now however, I dismiss these concerns and rely solely to a few of journalistic postulates. There’ll only be a few facts, but they’ll be checked and informative. Also, a recommendation of a friend seem to be the next best thing to a personal experience.
During a pleasant evening filled with laughter and cheers with my dear friends, I met an artist from Peru and asked her for some counter-culture artist suggestions, and she suggested La Torita. “What does she rap about”, I asked? “Ummm, the position of women in society, inequality and violence” she answered and my eyes glistened. This is the kind of real I like to hear about. I know inequality and violence. I could totally relate already.
Apart from knowing that La Torita is a Peruvian hiphop artist a friend recommended, I didn’t know much more, and my usually all-knowing friend Google wasn’t able to help much this time. La Torita has no website apart from her Facebook page and her Soundcloud, but thankfully, a plenty of Youtube videos still allowing for some research material. The 25-year-old singer composer from Lima defines herself as a ‘Chola from the San Juan de Miraflores’ one of the younger districts of Lima, which is known for its poverty issues.
Her song ‘Asi Me Pego’ (i.e ‘So I Stick’) is a song about sticking to one’s own life route, despite of what others think, say and do. It’s a song about braveness and being true to oneself, and how she rose to be the rapper artist she is today. Her flow is immaculate, she rules the rhythmical challenges and possibilities of the Spanish language and her attitude transcends even through the language barrier.
Perhaps I just want to see more in La Torita’s lyrics than there really is, but it seems to me that her lamenting about being ‘true to oneself’ tells us more about achieving something in life than listening to Iggy Azalea’s boasting rants about her purchase power. Maybe I’m a just quixotic fool here with outdated expectations, but the tops of the charts do belong to those who muster most purchase power, right?
That’s how you, I and every Plain Jane knows about Iggy and not about La Torita. Not for long though. Here’s La Torita, putting Peruvian rap on the world map, eating Iggy’s concept of realness for breakfast and staying hungry.