Thursday, August 17, 2006

Calle 13’s “La Jirafa”—“The Giraffe”

Multifaceted, the Calle 13 who brought us "Atrévete te te"s lyrical imperative of hitching up our skirts all the way up to our backs and the Residente responsible for "Chulin Culín Chunfly"s me gusta como me guaya tu papaya, also bring us "La Jirafa."

I'm no fan of sappily happy love songs. But I can appreciate a good one that strays from the norm. I particularly welcome a love song from a reggaeton artist who elides the pop conventions that presently reign supreme in the genre (either te guayo te piso te pillo or sudando pasión, mi linda flor, te bajo la luna, etc.).

So I'm really feeling Calle 13's music, lyrics and video for "La Jirafa."

Though the music does not rely on the prototypical reggaeton percussive pattern, it feels reggaetoney, begging to be danced in similar pelvis-swaying ways. Also, since I'm a sucker for the accordion, the instrument's incorporation into the music and video is a big plus for me. (Thanks to Wayne Marshall for lending me his musical ear and helping me figure out why this song pleases my eardrums.

The lyrics are simple and simply gorgeous. Its imagery relies heavily on the colors and textures of nature. Sensual, as well as sexual, it awakens listeners' all six senses. And I do mean six. Why else would he ask her to flutter the cloth in her grandmother's name? Maybe that verse is taking me places Residente never intended: but I see his woman dancing bomba, piqueteando with her skirt, connecting through movement with the spirit world.

I'm also captivated by "La Jirafa"s surrealist qualities, both in the lyrics and the video. As usual, Residente rhymes seemingly by free association. But "La Jirafa"s lyrics are uncharacteristically tender. They remind me of Cuban singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez who lets the rhyming structure drive his word choice, employing almost non-sensical images to paint a vivid lyrical and musical picture.

Check the video.

Check the lyrics in Spanish.

I searched for an English translation and could not find it, so I will try to do them some justice. (Any suggestions or corrections are greatly appreciated.)

Plant your feet like two roots
With that swing
You'll probably cast a spell on me
So I don't step on you
Mamita, with caution
Flutter the cloth
In your grandmother's name

Mi little cinnamon
Mi little sugar
My pretty Sara [Linda Sara is the name of an acclaimed 1994 Puerto Rican movie]
My hurricane-like little storm
My Saint Clare [Santa Clara was a hurricane that hit PR in 1956]
I 'm not gonna let anything weird step on you
I 'm gonna light the candles so nothing happens to you
Here there's no knives or guns
There's only
A lot a lot a lot of cooking pot

Here there's a lot of sun
A lot of beaches
A lot of waves
Here everything is molasses
Nothing is pangola
I will paint the beach for you
Crayola blue
We're leaving
We're going
We're leaving
In a yola [small boat]
And if there is no yola
We will keep it rolling
So that
So that
You will see how your tail floats

When I saw you
I felt a lot of tickling
It was like having
Forty ants
Scratching my belly
You know, you know, you know
You're so fine
You took my pants, you're a thief
Lets spread ourselves into a tortilla

Lets make coconut pudding mixed with custard
I will eat your wood
Even with the termites

She eeee eeee
She eeee she
She eeee eeee
She eeee she

I want to see
The whole giraffe
I want it to kick me
See who can get away
Stirring the batter
I want four cups
Of carrots with pumpkins
You take me
Flying through the countryside
Off the floor
Walking on stilts
With a patanco basket
To walk over the ships
Until I get to your mountain range
The one who heals me
There are rumors going around
That you are
The luck of all the colors
A garden full of beans
A lot of necklaces adorned with seashells
Your name came out in the three cards
The comets told me
To dive in
To the bottom with no flippers
To go on the trip
With no suitcase
To go the whole way around
The planet
In a mattress
Lift up
Lift up
Lift up
Your shoe soles
Lets coil the washer disk
Gimme, gimme, gimme
A bit of Nutella
With you I'll go with nothing
A capella


Dee Tee said...

Raquel! i LOVe you for doing this blog! (I love you regardless!) And I LOVE- absolutely adore the name "Reggaetonica"-- PURE GENius!!!!

i'm here, at your blog, b/c I'm actually scripting somethign for MTV TRES on 13's "La Jirafa" and your blog helped me out alot!


-Dee Tee

raquelzrivera said...

What a joy to get this comment from YOU!

For which show is the "La Jirafa" script?

RZ said...

how about a translation of atrevete te te

Anonymous said...

Atrevete-te-te (translation)

Dare yourself to
Come out of the closet
Uncover yourself, take off that nail polish
Stop covering up, its not like anyone's gonna make a portrait of you..
Get up, get hyper
Start up, like sparks to a spark plug
Light up, like a lighter
Shake off your sweat like a windshield wiper
You are from the streets, like Street Fighter

Change that serious face
that encyclopedia face, like you're so intellectual..
I'm going to inject you with the bacteria
So that you spin like a merry-go-round..
Miss "Intellectual," I know you have
abs that are gonna explode
like a holiday party
abs that are gonna explode,
like a Palestinian..

I know you like Latin pop,
But reggaeton gets up like in your intestines
It flies up under your skirt like a submarine
It brings out your Taino Indian side
You know, like in Indian loin cloth,
In the name of Chief Agueybana..
There is nothing I'm gonna lie to you
I know I want to eat your parsely
You came Amazon-style like Brazil
You came to kill it like in "Kill Bill"
You came to drink beer from te barrel
You know that with me you always have free refills

Hello, stop all your airs and put-ons,
Hike up your mini-skirt
all the way to your back
Hike it up all the way
We're gonna dance for everyone to see
Look, baby, want a sip?
It doesn't matter if you're rapper or hippie,
or if your from Bayamon or Guaynabo City,
With me, don't be picky
This is down low, get the trick
This is easy, easy as pie
Who cares if you like Green Day?
Who cares if you like Coldplay?
This is direct, non-stop, one-way
I swear to you that by law
All Puerto Rican women know karate
They cook with tomato sauce and
they mix rice with avocado
to get 14 karat backsides..

Kaitlyn said...

please translate atrevete te te i really like the song it is great tho

jennifer guerra said...

ay dios mio!! i love this song, i truly do. es tan linda, casi no me gustan las canciones romanticas but this song takes it to another level-it's like he describes how he feels for her and the feeling he gets when he's with her. it's beautiful♥

Susanna said...

lucky for us, calle 13 is talented & versatile enough to mix it up and show us his range as an rapper/performer/activist(remember querido FBI?)... whenever i hear this cat, i think to myself, este tipo es tan, pero TAN boricua, no joda:):):) i gotta luv it...
pero si,
"la jirafa" is another example of his versatility as an artist - it demonstrates his skill with poetry...using his words with imagery...and quite beautifully, at that...

much props to the videos director as well, cuz it fit the song perfectly!



Yari said..., MTV Tr3s, & Latino University present:


***************BATANGA BEACH BREAK 2007***************

featuring: RESIDENTE CALLE 13 -- On the Beach, Live & In Concert!!!

Wildwood, NJ will host the hottest summer event with 3,000+ Latinos making their way to the Northeast in June 2007. The weekend combines beach front venues with live performances, comedy, tournaments and signature college events! We are proud to present a Latino weekend on the beach.

With 4 non-stop event-packed days, featuring Silk 6 - the National Stroll Championship, a live concert, a fashion show with up and coming Latino designers, a fireworks show, a volleyball/basketball tourney and so much more, this is where the summer starts... We'll see you on the beach in June '07!

WHEN: Thursday, June 7, 2007 at 5:00pm
to Sunday, June 10, 2007 at 10:00am

WHERE: Wildwoods Convention Center
4501 Boardwalk, Wildwood, NJ


6PM Calle 13 Concert & SILK 6 On The Beach
SILK - the national stroll tournament with over 20 Latino Greek fraternities and sororities competing for the top spot is the signature event of the weekend. RESIDENTE CALLE 13 will be performing live and in concert at this event!

Spinfly said...

how bout cumbia de los aburridos?

ESW said...

aaaa, you're translations of calle 13 canciones are awesome!!!...calle 13's stuff just keeps getting better.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the translations. They are really beautiful.

Mimi said...

Can someone translate Mala Suerte con El???

Anonymous said...

you all might probably like beso de desayono,
its romanic pero al estilo calle 13, nada de eso queso.

Anonymous said...

by the way this review is great it really shows calle 13 as a great artist which only keeps getting better.

Anonymous said...

I was looking up the lyrics to La Jirafa and even though one of the first things that came up was this with English, I still really liked reading it anyways. I really agree with what you said about disliking most love songs but how this one is the best. I love it and the video, great entry =]

Jen (you don't know me but oh well)

skw said...

I just came across this song today and fell madly in love. Like you, I'm not one for overly sentimental love songs, but this one is so different-- so perfect. Thanks for the lyrics translation.

Anonymous said...

I really liked this song too. It definitely appeals to my spiritual side. Thanks for writing this blog post!