Tego Calderon weighs in on Puerto Rican statehood

tego

He was never flashy, even when reggaeton exploded into the mainstream circa 2005 with Daddy Yankee’s “Gasolina.” While Yankee, Don Omar, and Wisin y Yandel were basking in the spotlight, Tego Calderon stayed in the background, experimenting with a sound that was never solely reggaeton or rap. It was poetry, informed by the rhythms and circumstances of his island.

Calderon’s sense of responsibility to make music with a message was handed down. From his late father Esteban, he inherited an appreciation for the older, socially conscious salseros like Ismael Rivera, who exposed racism in Puerto Rican society. Since the early days, when he released 2004’s El Enemy de los Guasibiri up until his most recent work like “Robin Hood,” off his latest album, The Original Gallo del Pais, Calderon has tackled topics like corruption and inequality. And as Puerto Rico continues to grapple with issues like skyrocketing crime, Calderon continues to stay true to that urban vigilante persona.

At 40, Calderon continues to perform for loyal fans all throughout Latin America, dabbles in acting (Illegal TenderFast Five), and commands the respect of his peers and the music industry as a whole. The Original Gallo del Pais was nominated for a 2012 Latin Grammy in the Best Urban Album category (the award went to Don Omar).

A recent phone conversation while he was promoting his latest album reveals that these days, Calderon seems content with his life and fulfilled as an artist and a family man. Whether people buy his music or not almost doesn’t matter, because on any given day, you’ll find Tego Calderon in “El Sitio,” his home and recording studio in Santurce, P.R. – doing what he does best.

Continue reading

Regional Mexican star Jenni Rivera dies in plane crash

jenni1

Gerardo Ruiz Esparza, Mexico’s Secretary of Communications and Transports, confirmed on Sunday night that the remains of the private jet carrying Jenni Rivera have been found, with no survivors. Rivera, 43, was one of seven passengers.

Rivera’s father, Pedro, confirmed the news of his daughter’s passing to reporters stationed outside of his home in Lakewood, Calif., where several family members were gathered, including Rivera’s mother Rosa and her eldest daughter Chiquis, who has still not made any statements. Rivera’s father reportedly received the news via telephone from his son, singer Lupillo Rivera, who was in Mexico at the time of the jet’s disappearance. “This is the first tragedy of this kind that we suffer as a family,” Rivera’s father told reporters on Sunday evening. “I hope people remember her as she was – someone who was straight with the world.”

Celebrity reactions on Twitter have poured in since news of the disappearance of Rivera’s jet, including Paulina Rubio (who was set to co-host the Mexican edition of The Voice with Rivera) William LevyJoan SebastianRicky Martin, and others.

Continue reading

Salud! Tequila tasting with Sensato in Vegas for Latin Grammys

sensato

What happens in Vegas…well, you know the rest. While in town for the Latin Grammys this week, artists were celebrating their nominations and wins up and down the Strip. One of them, Sensato, was in Vegas on double duty: to perform his monster club hit “Crazy People” with Pitbull during the show, the same song that was nominated in the Best Urban Song category.

If you’ve heard the song – and unless you live under a rock, you have – then you know this 27-year-old Dominican rapper with the hyper, caricature-like flow knows a thing or two about having a good time. So I took him tequila tasting earlier in the week to the hottest new resto on the Strip, Javier’s, which has a vast selection of the agave-based drink.

Sensato, who is signed to Pitbull’s label Mr. 305 Inc., has a bright future ahead of him beyond the Latin Grammy nod (the award went to Don Omar for “Hasta Que Salga El Sol”). His new, Pitbull-assisted single “La Confesion,” which namedrops J.Lo, Sofia Vegara, Eva Longoria, Selena Gomez, Shakira, and other hot Latinas is out now, and the two bad boys are working on a full joint album, due some time next year.

Watch here as we learn a thing or two about “fine” tequila and talk about what it means to be Pitbull’s protege. Sensato played it coy when we asked for crazy stories while on tour with Pit, but we can only imagine what that’s like…

Also, check out what Sensato and other celebs told us on the Latin Grammy green carpet about their End of the World playlists, because if we’re going down this year, we’re making it count with some good company, good music, and, why not a nice adult beverage?

#espanYOLO!

Juan Luis Guerra will save us from the end of the world!

juanluisguerra

This year at the Latin Grammys green carpet, aside from who will win which award, we couldn’t help but wonder: if the world really does come to an end in December as the Mayans predicted, will this be the last time these celebs walk the carpet?

We certainly hope not, but if it is, then we needed to know one thing: what would be on their End of The World playlists – which artists would they turn to for the ultimate and final party?

One trend we saw: Juan Luis Guerra! As Univision’s Lourdes Stephen put it: “He always carries this message of peace, of hope, of salvation.” And he delivered that very message during his performance of “En El Cielo No Hay Hospital.”

Watch all the celebs’ responses in this video, and check out more celebrity End of the World playlists below.

Continue reading

What’s in your suitcase: ChocQuibTown’s Goyo

goyo1

Latin Grammys are just as much about the music as they are about the fashion, so we snuck into one of our favorite band’s room to see which looks they’re going to be rocking this week in Las Vegas.

Colombian hip-hop group ChocQuibTown, beloved at home in Choco and all around Latin America, is nominated in three categories this year – Album of the Year (Eso Es Lo Que Hay), Record of the Year (“Calentura,” featuring Tego Calderon and Zully Murillo), and Best Alternative Music Album.

But they’re not exactly new at this Latin Grammy thing. In 2009, they were up for Best New Artist, and they won Best Alternative Song in 2010 for “De Donde Vengo Yo.”

The band’s Colombian pride manifests itself strongly in the fashion choices of its lead singer Gloria Martinez (a.k.a. Goyo), as we were able to see firsthand during our visit to her hotel room in Vegas. “It’s really important for me to support local designers,” Goyo told me yesterday, right before our Twitcam with the group. If you missed it, check out the full, unedited video here.

The trio of Goyo, her brother Slow, and her hubby Tostao, had so much fun answering fan questions on Twitter, and shared everything from their favorite foods to their dreams of a possible collaboration with Calle 13, and even breaking into an awesome acapella of “Hasta El Techo” (fast foward to minute 14:00 of the Twitcam video)!

But first, I got an exclusive look at Goyo’s wardrobe for the rest of the week. She makes the best dressed list in my book for all of her originality and support of local designers.

Check out the pics on Fusion (ABC/Univision), where this story was originally published. 

Being Becky G: This right here is a #beaster movement

beckyg_polaroid

By Becky G, as told to Angie Romero

Just like the strong, powerful women I’ve grown up watching and loving – Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez – I’ve always known that this is about more than just the music. I want to create a movement. I was really young when I started thinking that way, like 12, 13, which is kind of weird, cause I’m still young. But at that time, I already had ideas for a fashion line.

At the time, I started talking to people on Twitter, getting what I thought was a cool fan base of like 2,000 followers, and then it got to 5,000, and that’s how the little Beaster movement began. Then the Cody Simpson stuff started happening and the Cher Lloyd song “Oath” came out and now I’m at 60,000 followers, which is a pretty big number compared to what I started out with.

The way I came up with Beasters as a nickname for my fans is because people call me B for short. I feel like a little beast when I’m onstage, and I feel like my fans have that little beast inside of them, too, this hunger for life. It’s also an expression, like “That’s beast-mode!” so I thought it was a cool name for the whole movement.

Read the rest of this blog post on Fusion (ABC/Univision), where it was originally posted.

Being Becky G: Gangsta Minnie Mouse for Halloween

beckyg_costume_instagrammed

By Becky G, as told to Angie Romero

Everyone loves Halloween, right? One of my friends, his name is Coco, he designs for LMFAO, he offered to create a costume for me. And he said, ‘Hey, what if we made the dress out of a bandanna for a gangsta Minnie Mouse?” The dress came out adorable, and up close you can really see the details in the dress.

Well, for me, it’s not just the fun costumes that I love about October. It’s also my little brother Frankie’s birthday a few days before Halloween, so this year we made it extra special. He turned 13, and we had well over 30 people over at my house, 17 of them grandchildren.

My mom has always been the party planner in the family, she comes up with the ideas. She’s the one who gets things together. Frankie’s birthdays have always been kind of Halloween-based, but this was the first time that we had all these activities like pumpkin-carving contests, so it was really, really cool.

One thing I’m learning as I get older is to appreciate every moment that I get with family, especially my grandparents. They’re getting a little older and they’re having difficulty with certain things.

My dad’s dad, who came from Mexico in 1974, could retire, but he doesn’t want to. The way he was raised was so you never stop providing for your family and your lady. My grandma still does the cooking and cleaning. He’s been working for so long – he works at a country club near Hollywood, doing construction and landscaping. He has a really bad knee problem. But he and my other grandparents don’t really let anything hold them back.

Family plays a really big part of my life, because they’ve been there since the beginning, even before I was born. I’m at a point in my career where it’s starting to take off, and I’m not able to spend as much time with them as I’m used to. It’s really different for me, so when I do have time with them, I really take it all in.

Continue reading

Meet new celeb contributor Becky G!

ht_becky_g_intro_post_121026_wg

EDITOR’S NOTE: A preternaturally confident 15-year-old from Inglewood, Calif., Becky Gomez is a one-of-a-kind artist. She can rap, she can sing, she’s endorsed by Dr. Luke and Justin Bieber, and her influences range from Etta James to Left Eye to Selena Quintanilla.

As she raps on her remix to Ke$ha’s “Die Young”: She’s a “lil bit of diva/lil bit of nice/lil bit of nerd/lil bit of spice.” And like most kids of her generation, she gets what it takes to build her own brand as a nascent pop star. She doesn’t even have an album out and she already has a loyal fan base, with whom she’s constantly interacting on every social media platform on Earth (you can start by following her on Twitter if you haven’t already).

Becky even has a nickname for her fans, “Beasters” (down the line, she’ll tell you all about that). The idea behind this weekly series is to join her on this incredibly exciting journey to the top, revealing in her own words who she is as an artist and a person along the way.

Whether it’s opening for Justin Bieber on tour, or studio sessions toward her debut album, due in 2013, to hanging out with her Mexican-American family, this is an inside look at the making of a Latina pop star with unlimited mainstream appeal.

Continue reading

Interview With Javier Bardem: Best Bond Villain Ever?

bardem

Is Skyfall the best Bond movie ever? Some critics think so, and that’s not necessarily untrue. The 23rd installment of the longest-running film franchise ever (50 years!) is certainly the best of the Daniel Craig pics, and Javier Bardem’s deliciously wicked blonde-haired villain Silva plays a huge role in that.

He’s not your usual Bond villain, that’s for sure. One of the movie’s best scenes between Bond and Silva, right after they meet for the first time, is oozing with homoeroticism, raising the question: is Bardem playing the first gay Bond baddie? “You could read it that way,” Bardem tells Entertainment Weekly. “The word that [director Sam Mendes] kept using was ‘uncomfortableness’. Beyond the sexuality, he wanted it to feel like you don’t know if Silva’s joking or not.”

Watch here as the Oscar-winning Spaniard breaks down the psychology of his bad guy for me during the recent Skyfall press junket in NYC. Yes, it was as awesome as it sounds to meet him.

If Silva reminds moviegoers of The Joker or other classic comic book villains that’s not a total coincidence, says Bardem. He actually spent time sketching the character, using the skills he acquired during his time studying fine arts in Spain. He then brought those to Mendes and they jointly arrived at this “broken man,” who is so focused on revenge that he will stop at nothing to achieve it.

Can Bond fight such a monster, now that he’s aging and got an alcohol problem? You’ll just have to watch, starting November 9.

The Latino behind New York Film Festival bids farewell after 25 Years, goes out with a bang

richard_pena

The 50th annual New York Film Festival got underway on Sept. 28, marking the golden anniversary of the highly influential series, and the last hurrah for Film Society of Lincoln Center‘s program director Richard Peña, who is retiring after 25 years at the helm.

Peña, a die-hard New Yorker of Spanish and Puerto Rican descent who experienced his first NYFF at age 12, has been instrumental in furthering – and in some cases, launching — the careers of many great international filmmakers in the US, chief among them, Pedro Almodóvar.

For his last NYFF, Peña is going out with a bang: 50 films on the Main Slate lineup, a good mix of choice arthouse offerings, foreign language prize winners from Cannes and Berlin, and world premieres of big Hollywood movies, like Ang Lee’s big-screen adaptation of the best-seller Life of Pi, in addition to special retrospectives, sidebars and two special series: Cineastes/Cinema of Our Time and Men of Cinema: Pierre Riessent and the Cinema Mac Mahon. Two galas will honor Nicole Kidman and Peña on Oct. 3 and 10, respectively.

Even though he will continue his academic career at Columbia University, where he’s taught Film Studies since 2003 (he’s been teaching there since 1989, in one capacity or another), Peña is actually looking forward to relaxing and spending more time with his wife, Karen and their three children (24-year-old son Ari, and daughters Maya, 22, and Lita, 15). “There’s a general desire to slow down a bit,” the 59-year-old cinephile tells me. “It’s been a pretty adventurous 25 years.”

On the first day of the festival, Peña took time out to give me a call and talk about his tenure, where he sees filmmaking today, as well as what he considers to be great, classic Latin American cinema. Anyone who hasn’t seen his Top 5 Latin American Cinema Classics can easily do so on Netflix (I asked him to pick ‘accessible’ movies).

During our talk, I felt a little bit like a student in one of Peña’s classes at Columbia. I actually know a bunch of people who have had him as a professor and they have always raved about him.

Now I get why.

Continue reading