“I should make a stand on this land of war”
Hip-hop has always — at its core — been an underdog sport; although it’s often used as a cash cow for those more focused on material elements and the overall ‘lifestyle’ spoils that hip-hop can offer its upper echelon of commercially successful artists. There is a whole generation of underground artists, though, that are making a stand and using hip-hop as an avenue of political upheaval and way of voicing political and social disdain; examples of artists in this vein include Immortal Technique. Salt-Lake-City based Latin-American duo Bonnevilla fits this mold quite well, achieving widespread critical acclaim for their unrelenting social commentary, blended with the sonic aesthetics of underground late 90s hip-hop. With six years in the game, numerous awards, and three full-length albums under their belt, their momentum shows no signs of slowing down, nor wavering in its self-aware sense of purpose.
Their latest release, Ad Finem, is a 21 track album full of Spanish-language bars, banging boom-bap hip-hop, and sequencing that takes listeners on a journey. It’s funny that artists like Drake are popular in countries that don’t speak a word of English — they only follow his melody and production. The same can be said of Bonnevilla, who just ‘sound’ dope, even if you have no idea what they’re saying. For those with the phonetic ability to understand their raps, the duo traverses numerous topics, from loss on the record “Siempre,” the heartfelt “Madre” which is dedicated to their mothers, and the super lyrical “Piececitos,” which translates to “Tiny Feet.” That record in particular track is inspired by the poem “Piececitos” from Chilean Nobel Prize winner Gabriela Mistral and touches on the poor children that inhabit the streets — abandoned and forgotten. Another searing record is “Catarsis,” which attacks the corruption of the Mexican government, which providing a commentary on their perceived corruption within contemporary religion; “I am strong because God has abandoned me.”
The project also has some star power, including award-winning [Mexican] rappers Akil Ammar (on the song “Siempre”) and Bocafloja (on the song “Hope” ), as well as production from Argentinian producer Gas-Lab.
Hip-hop is worldwide, says KRS-ONE in the sample used in the intro of the record “El Mal Necesario.” Indeed, it’s hard to argue it isn’t especially when you hear the insane cuts and 90s New York (East Coast) production that the duo rides on this project. Although they are in the US, this project — which is entirely Spanish — more than opens the borders for listeners. Whether providing criticism about socio-political injustice abroad in Mexico or at home on their audio opinion piece about presidential hopeful Donald Trump on “Trompitas,” they keep it all hip-hop. Real recognize real.