[en/es] Ismael Rivera “Witinila” & Tego Calderón “Salte del Medio”

Tego Calderón samples Witinila of Ismael Rivera in Salte del Medio.

Tego Calderón usa Witinila de Ismael Rivera para su Salte del Medio.

Traigo de Todo
Ismael Rivera – 1974 – Traigo de Todo
Tego Calderón – 2003 – El Abayarde

Yesterday I was listening for the first time to Traigo de Todo, a wonderful Salsa record by Ismael Rivera released in 1974, and as it came to the song Witinila I had a sort of déjà vu. It was just about the first sounds, I could swear I already knew them, I felt I already had loved this sequence, but I had no idea where this came from and it was, I must admit, somehow frightening. To solve this mystery I asked a web search engine and trough the query “witinila ismael rivera samples” I got the hint I could find it on El Abayarde from Tego Calderón, possibly my favourite Reaggaeton album (but I must admit, I’m not a Reggaeton enthusiast). Anyway I had to go through all the nineteen songs and I wasn’t even sure that Tego had sampled Witinila and not another song of Ismael. But I found it there: I already had known the wonderful intro of Ismael from Salte del Medio, track number thirteen. Now I’m posting this, so the next Witinila-discoverer finds out directly.

Now I must spend some words praising Ismael’s song.  This delicious track tells us the story about a black slave who escaped taking to the hills to free himself and to avoid being whipped by the foreman. Putting politics, speaking explicitly about slavery in Salsa tracks was at that time not really mainstream. To hear something comparable go back to Eddie Palmieri’s ’71 release Vamonos pa’l Monte: its first tracks, being already because of the musical experimentation wonderful masterpieces worth your time, also touch the themes of freedom, Revolt/La Libertad Logico,  and taking to the hills, Vamonos pa’l Monte. Or, in alternative, go forward to ’77 and listen to Plantación Adentro from Metiendo Mano of Willie Colón and Ruben Blades. This track just tells the story – with some fine sort of black humour – of an indio who dies in the plantation after being trashed by the foreman.

Tego’s track is also great, but mainly because of the powerful basis from Witinila, which still sounds modern, just enhanced with drums. The lyrics are nothing special, just some posing about being a reggaeton singer and bringing a new sound.

As a matter of fact, all albums cited can be found trough Filestube and some songs – such as Witinila, highly recommended – on Youtube and this post isn’t worth anything if you don’t hear the two tracks.


Ayer escuchando el disco Traigo de Todo de Ismael Rivera me asusté cuando llegué a la canción Witinila: me di cuenta que de alguna manera ya la conocía, tenía la sensación de haber ya amado en algún momento esa introducción maravillosa. Lo que más me molestó fue no saber de donde me era familiar. Para buscar una respuesta metí en un motor de búsqueda “witinila ismael rivera samples” y resultó que debía buscar en El Abayarde de Tego Calderón, pero aún no sabía de cual de las diecinueve canciones se trataba ni sabía si el comentario se refería a Witinila o a otra canción de Ismael. Enfin, resultó ser la  trece, Salte del Medio. Bueno, ahora lo publico en este blog, para que el próximo descubridor de Witinila lo encuentre inmediatamente.

Para el melónamo hispano estas canciones no necesitan explicaciones, su grandeza musical es evidente y la letra habla por si sola. Como único comentario a Witinila recomiendo las canciones Revolt/La Libertad Logico y Vamonos pa’l Monte del disco Vamonos pa’l Monte de Eddie Palmieri y Plantación Adentro de Willie Colón y Rubén Blades en Metiendo Mano y anoto que en el momento de Traigo de Todo no era frecuente ahondar tanto en la crítica política y hablar explícitamente de la esclavitud en una Salsa.

Resulta que es posible encontrar todos estos discos en Filestube y ciertas canciones – Witinila por ejemplo – en Youtube. Sin escuchar las canciones esta entrada no vale la pena.

Vamonos pa'l Monte
Eddie Palmieri – 1971 – Vamonos pa’l Monte
Metiendo Mano
Willie Colón y Rubén Blades – 1977 – Metiendo Mano

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