On a heat evening in Miami final December, Rosalía sang at a personal Artwork Basel occasion celebrating the a hundredth anniversary for the fragrance Chanel No. 5. In a black Chanel jacket and jodhpurs, the Catalan pop star sang a few of her in style singles together with “La Fama.” However she additionally sang Fania All-Stars and La Sonora Matancera alum Justo Betancourt’s “Delirio de Grandeza,” a 1968 bolero a couple of merciless girl whose rejection debased her lover’s ambitions. In low-res movies of the efficiency, when the sharp horns of the pattern minimize the lights do too, and he or she thrashes to a sped-up model of Soulja Boy‘s verse from Vistoso Bosses’ “Delirious,” which floats into the tune as if from an adjoining room in 2009. It is an arresting fragment of an artist whose colossal influence on pop has outlived his personal prominence.
This efficiency, on this cradle of wealth and artwork, first comfortable launched essentially the most salient, tangled thread that contains Rosalía’s third album Motomami: that fame is ephemeral, intoxicating, at instances arbitrary and sometimes dealing in ill-gotten gold. The file is an experiment that at instances considers its topic and the relationships it threatens with startling honesty and progressive musical turns, and at others loses itself within the stake it claims in Latin pop and reggaeton.
Rosalía’s 2018 album El Mal Querer, which started as her thesis at Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, experimented with reggaeton, entice, R&B, and digital music by the prism of flamenco, subverting conventional Catholic and secular Spanish imageries by a feminine gaze. El Mal Querer gained 4 Latin Grammys — together with album of the 12 months — with an Andalusian style usually learn by the West as Spanish however that’s the product of assorted cultures and migrations over centuries, and whose latest historical past has seen an examination of the disparities that exist between Romani cantaores (flamenco singers) and white ones. Within the years because the album’s launch, with only a handful of acclaimed pop-flamenco and pop-reggaeton singles accompanying it, Rosalía has turn into probably essentially the most celebrated feminine artist at the moment working in Latin pop, and has already accepted the laurels that the business has eagerly given her. So what occurs when she organizes round reggaeton, invoking Tego Calderón amongst her forebears?
Motomami makes an attempt an identical subversion as El Mal Querer, altering the arch idea of the primary for a dualism of a girl in transformation and approaching reggaeton this time as its beginning line. Half of the album can be divided as “moto” — tougher, sooner, Rosalía on a motorbike — and the opposite “mami,” weak, at instances quiet and self-aware. Its first three singles leaned solely “moto,” which does not really feel like an accident. She makes use of Caribbean slang like pámpara, gata and piquete. With “Saoko,” a bass-heavy redux of the 2004 Wisin and Daddy Yankee reggaeton traditional, she confirmed that this shift could be intentional and studied in its sources.
“La Fama,” an inexplicable bachata with The Weeknd, arrived first. The tune’s manufacturing, elsewhere incisive on a lot of the album, reads scientific, making an attempt an authenticity it might probably’t obtain. As journalist Jennifer Mota advised the outlet PopSugar upon its launch, “[bachata] is a Black, Dominican-made style that was scorned by society,” one which “hasn’t acquired correct recognition . . . in mainstream business locations.” Rosalía works on Motomami to not be outlined by one style, but it surely’s her privilege as a white artist that has allowed her world visibility in bachata and reggaeton, two genres whose Black origins carry a historical past of criminalization and erasure. Mota asks: “Who will get that visibility? It is by no means the Black Latiné creators and residents of that tradition.”
Throughout Motomami, Rosalía usually acknowledges a lineage she’s working in, however its parameters — which look like merely Spanish-language music — stay unclear. “Yo quiero una cadena / Que me arruine toda la cuenta / Como Julio en los setenta,” (“I desire a chain / That’ll break the financial institution / Like Julio [Iglesias] within the ’70s,”) she brags on “Rooster Teriyaki.” “Bulerías” is a reminder of her monstrous dexterity in flamenco, whereas nodding to the constellation of influences that inform her work now: cantaores Manolo Caracol, Niña Pastori, and José Mercé alongside Lil’ Kim, Tego Calderón and M.I.A. She shouts out the Fania Data gang a number of instances. “La Combi Versace,” with earlier “Linda” collaborator and Dominican dembowsera Tokischa, is a glinting, alt-inflected wink to “la combi completa” and excessive style that shouts out an “OG celebration con La Fania (Jerry Masucci) / Hangueando con salseros (Tito, Willie),” (“OG celebration with La Fania (Jerry Masucci) / Hanging out with salseros (Tito, Willie).” She locations all these artists in her pantheon, like a pupil displaying her work on a math check.
Amongst her arsenal of producers: Michael Uzowuru, Pharrell, longtime collaborator El Guincho, Tainy, herself. Q-Tip even has a writing credit score on “Rooster Teriyaki.” However the knifing manufacturing and rev of the brash Motomami persona do not assist its singles go greater than a vibe test. Of their mud are loads of glimpses into the reflective and grounded creative imaginative and prescient the album might have organized round, however their obfuscation feels intentional. “Hentai” — certainly one of varied unusual references to Japanese ephemera throughout the album — went viral when she teased a snippet on TikTok, her melismatic, delicate vocals complicated a complete swath of English-speakers looking for a deeper that means within the melody and lyrics apart from desirous to journey somebody like a motorcycle. An identical shock exhibits up in additional experimental moments: On “CUUUUUuuuuuute,” the bass-driven principal occasion provides option to her remoted voice because the manufacturing actually clicks up the amount.
She’s extremely efficient in these contrasts, however would not at all times escape the gimmick. And generally, she actually does. Within the churchlike fugue of “G3 N15,” the whiplash is highly effective, a calculated contradiction. As she apologizes to an estranged, struggling beloved one from the space of her gilded sphere now, her voice ricochets with dynamic management, the unstable interaction between energy and complete consumption by it: “Y me toca estar donde no quiero estar / Esto no es El Mal Querer, es el mal desear.” (“And I’ve to be the place I do not wanna be / This is not El Mal Querer, it is the dangerous want.”) It is in these quiet subversions the place the file reaches its highest stakes with lovely, visceral honesty. These are moments the place she considers the ache of family members she hasn’t seen in years, reflecting on whether or not her world has turn into too giant and unwieldy to slot in theirs anymore. And but these moments are essentially the most obscured; the album and its advertising and marketing frontloaded the “moto,” the reggaeton experiment, relegating these admissions to the position of sidekick in favor of extra aesthetic selections which have the potential to solidify her dominance in Latin pop. “What a sophisticated world is the one Rosalía has gotten into,” her grandmother notes in Catalan on the outro.
Motomami closes on “Sakura,” a simulation of a reside efficiency utilizing an audio snippet from her tour of El Mal Querer. “Flor de sakura / Flor de sakura / Ser una popstar / Nunca te dura,” she sings within the file’s most stripped second, a mercurial efficiency with out the bizarre antics. (“Being a pop star / By no means lasts.”) Motomami‘s two halves have very completely different goals: One half seeks to take that pop stardom as excessive as it can go, dutifully pledging its allegiance to the pathbreakers this music would possibly outplay globally; the opposite half appears again to its two predecessors musically and thematically. By the album’s closing observe, it commits to the objectives of the primary half with out remorse, conscious of its potential to interrupt her. On the opposite facet of adventurous experimentation is at all times a reckless potential for hurt. She says as a lot, with all the ability in her instrument: “Las llamas son bonitas porque no tienen orden / Y el fuego es bonito porque todo lo rompe.” (“Flames are fairly as a result of they’re riotous / And hearth is fairly as a result of it breaks all the pieces.”) The cheers that shut the album are all too transient, reducing out earlier than they’ll die down.