El Aballarde

After a successful release in his native Puerto Rico, as well as critical acclaim, Tego Calderón's "El Aballarde" now makes its formal U.S.

After a successful release in his native Puerto Rico, as well as critical acclaim, Tego Calderón's "El Aballarde" now makes its formal U.S. major-label debut. A large part of Calderón's appeal is based on his lyrical content—real and close to the street without resorting to more pedestrian sexual references or overt violence—and his fusion of rap with traditional Puerto Rican rhythms (played live). It's a mix that makes Calderón palatable to young and old audiences alike. It is especially dynamic in tracks like "Loiza" and the danceable "Dominicana." "El Aballarde" picks up steam as it goes along. Calderón's slow-paced rapping can sound sluggish with midtempo accompaniments, but it finds a perfect balance in such upbeat tracks as "Salte del Medio."—LC