At a time when Latin and non-Latin artists alike can’t seem to help but collaborate for one-off Spanish-language singles and overstuffed remixes, Trending Tropics truly stands out. Bringing together Eduardo Cabra Martínez, better known as Visitante of Puerto Rican hip-hop group Calle 13, and critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Vicente García, the duo devised a full-length that gleefully thumbs its nose at genre expectations while exploring exciting new sonic fusions. The album marks the former’s first release as a recording artist since the seemingly indefinite hiatus of his partnership with stepbrother Residente.
Even by Calle 13 standards this record is a strange one, albeit just as entertaining and perhaps even more provocative. Beyond the project’s clever pun of a name, Trending Tropics presents a high concept document of the social media age, with a cavalcade of guests joining in to give voice to its dual and, at times, dueling themes of technology and humanity. Among those accompanying the pair on this excursion are French-Chilean rapper-turned-singer Ana Tijoux, Dominican writer Frank Báez and the Superaquello side-project La Tortuga China. Not surprising given the assortment of artists, the results can vary wildly, from the mechanized electro balladry of “El Síntoma de (ún) Músico” to the thumping yet off kilter pop-rock of pre-release single “Cyber Monday.”