Tego Calderon Part II:
El Abayarde Strikes Back
8/25/07 - LatinRapper.com interview by Dante (click for 1st interview)
Considered by many to
be the most respected rapper in Puerto Rico since Vico C,
Tego Calderon is back with a new album, a new movie, and a
new outlook on life since his trip to Africa.
interview with Tego was a year ago after the
successful release of El Subestimado - The Underdog, which
received international acclaim for its mix of salsa and
Afro-Caribbean rhythms with hip-hop and dancehall reggae
Tego has forged a revolutionary flow inspired
by his authentic street roots, creating a social chronicle
that openly addresses such issues as racism, poverty, and
Tego returns with his latest offering "El Abayarde Contra-Ataca",
and a featured role in the new John Singleton film "Illegal
Tender", now in theaters. We've got the questions, and the
voice of the barrio has the answers in this exclusive
LatinRapper.com: The last interview we did with you was a
year ago to the month, what motivated you to put out a new
album so soon?
I'm coming out with this movie. John Singleton, when we shot
the movie, he encouraged me to do an album so that it would be
dropping with the movie at the same time. I started working on
it, I didn't know if it was going to be ready by the time the
movie was going to be out, but it happened and it's out. I
have so many lyrics that I didn't use for The Underdog, plus I
have crazy producers that are doing music that I love. They
put me on the right state of mind with the music, and it just
happened so quickly, I couldn't believe it.
What can you tell us about El Abayarde Contra-Ataca?
It's like El Abayarde strikes back, I'm coming back with my
old ways. On The Underdog I came out on a personal level, more
personal album with the influences that I love. Maybe some
people didn't get it. Now I'm coming out simple, simple
lyrics, simple stuff, you know, what made me. That's why I
named the album El Abayarde Contra Ataca.
What track on this album was the most important to you
Well, the most important song is the first one called Alegria.
It establishes a time which is a state of mind, there's no
need to be - how do I say it - be happy no matter what, do
whatever you gotta do, don't be like... Don't complain, don't
complain, don't complain about life, just keep doing your
thing. There's people that are doing worse than you are.
to this point, you know, I think, from my travel to Africa.
When I went to Africa, the Sierra Leone, I started viewing
life in a different way. And that's the most important one in
my opinion, the first song on the album. Ni Fu Ni Fa is one
with an African flavor with to it, it's like three different
stories, and I love that one too.
I read that you stopped wearing a lot of jewelry after you
went to Sierra Leone.
Yeah, before going to Sierra Leone when they showed me the
clip, I didn't know that's what happens over there. When
Sandra showed me the clip, I couldn't believe it, I stopped
wearing it right away. I never loved jewelry that much, I was
doing it because people were doing it. I just started wearing
it. One time I got to New York and this guy showed me a
medallion, and I loved it and I bought it. But I'm not a
jewelry person, so it was easy for me to take them off.
About the album, who did the beats?
I had a lot of people who aren't known, people from Puerto
Rico. New people, man, new faces, new blood. It's great, they
did their thing, I'm very happy with it. They did it fast too.
That's why I didn't chose none of the top names, I needed it
to be done fast. I think they did the job, and fast too, and
they were happy doing it.
For the people who don't know, where did your nickname "El
Abayarde" come from?
It's like a fire ant from Puerto Rico. It's not an ant
(laughs), but that's the way I can explain it to you. It's a
small insect that bothers a lot. When children behave in a bad
way, the grandmothers used to call you, "Oh, you an abayarde".
You don't behave, it's like a nickname for people who don't
I've been been hearing good things about you for the new
John Singleton movie "Illegal Tender", how did you get cast
Oh, it was Franc Reyes, he wrote the character thinking of me,
at least that's what he tells me. Then he presented the
project to John, John loved it. Then he had just two
characters that he had the actors for, it was me and Rick
Gonzales. He wanted Ricans, he wanted Tego, John met me in
Puerto Rico. We got together, I told him yeah, I'm down with
At the same time, other people were trying to get me to do
other movies. And I said no, to the reggaeton movie [Feel The
Noise] by J. Lo, to el Cantante, to a few movies. But John, I
love John, I respect him, I know what he is to the Hip Hop
game. I said yes man, and I'm grateful for the opportunity.
So we're going to start seeing you in more movies now?
Yeah, he already got me another one. I called him, after we
finished that movie I called him from Miami and told him that
I wanted to do this comedy. And he was laughing, he was like
'now you want to direct and write and everything'. I was like,
no, no man, I want to do this comedy. He was thinking about
it, when I went to L.A. last week, he told me that he had this
idea for this new movie with me. I was supposed to be a coach
of a baseball team. It made sense to me because I love
baseball, so it's gonna be a great experience, I'm looking
forward to it.
You told me before that you considered Chino Nyno to be the
future, have you still been working on projects with him and
other Jiggiri artists?
Well Chino is my only Jiggiri artist, I'm fighting with him
because he's taking too long to do his thing. He did this
mixtape the other day, but he's not working on his album. So
we had this argument the other day. I'm pushing him to release
his album, but he's got to drop the right way, 'cause he's got
this New York mentality of Hip Hop, Hip Hop, Hip Hop, and
punchlines. And that s**t doesn't work over here, you know
what I'm saying?
People don't get it like that. You gotta be
more simple, and do what people like so they get to listen to
your other stuff. I'm trying to explain that to him, to get
through to him. I know what he is, I was the same thing, I
love hip hop, and I didn't want to do reggaeton. But its
sometimes its something that you gotta do to get people to
listen to your other stuff.
Tell me one thing about yourself that most of your fans
don't already know.
Well, I think that most fans don't know that I used to be a
drum player, and that I used to be in a heavy metal band.
(laughs) I used to play a lot of Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath,
Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest, all that music and I love it. I
like it too, I'm a real musical person.
Any last message to your fans?
This album is a good album. I did it with a lot of love, with
a lot of respect for my fans. I hope you enjoy it, much love.
Go see my movie Illegal Tender August 24, El Abayarde Contra
Ataca August 28, much love people.
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