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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

Mala Rodriguez

By Phil Freeman
Published January 28, 2008

Machete Music

Mala Rodríguez is a Spanish rapper (from Andalucía) who hasn’t really gotten the attention she deserves in America—until now. Newly signed to top reggaeton label Machete Music, she has made the most self-assured, consistently entertaining album of her career. In the past, she incorporated flamenco guitars and rhythms into her music, but this time around, the beats are more overtly synthetic, mimicking tracks by American producers like Swizz Beatz or Mannie Fresh with handclaps and thick, oozing bass lines. Her delivery has also progressed, shifting between relaxed, sultry femininity and an almost shocking energy. When she invites a guest into her world—as with Julieta Venegas on “Tiempo Pa Pensá,” (“Time To Think”) or Tego Calderón on “Enfermo” (“Sickness”)—she’s gracious but still in total control nobody outshines Mala in her house. The market for non-reggaeton Latin hip-hop is small, but if anybody’s gonna break out of the pack, Mala Rodríguez could definitely be the one.