Pablo Díaz-Reixa, known most popularly as El Guincho, once again proves in his latest album Pop Negro that he’s a lover of music. His passion is evident in this inspiring collection of melodies and beats that hold the perfect balance between easy and hallucinatory.
I was thinking of a way to describe this album, and I couldn’t help but think of guests at a party. There always seems to be this one person that just oozes with joy and spark, and you think, “Man, he’s probably had it easy all his life.” El Guincho’s charm drips in his lyrics and beats, and he easily sells us this image of a fun, party-loving music wiz the same way Kanye West sells us a pair of Louis Vuitton sneakers. “If I buy the sneakers,” you think, “I’ll look just as cool as Kanye.” Well, if you listen to El Guincho’s Pop Negro, you might start thinking you can have just as much fun as he does.
Coming from a literary family, I never thought it made sense that my mom’s a mathematician. “Math?!” I always asked her in disgust. She always defended her love for numbers, claiming that what she loves is that math is universal; it’s the same in every language. Whatever, mom. Math still grosses me out, but I thought about her logic as I was listening to Pop Negro because of its music’s natural universality. It reeks of African influences, but it’s not African music. Every song is sung in Spanish, but it’s not a “Spanish” album. It’s every bit of music you can imagine, thanks to El Guincho’s enviable talent to mix everything into one thing he clearly knows everyone aspires to: fun.
When reviewing El Guincho’s EP, Piratas de Sudamérica, I had a very clear picture in mind. It was summer, it was beachy, airy and dreamy, like a Puerto Rican party circa 1953. Pop Negro’s complexity is in its capacity for fluid transformation—it doesn’t fit into just one box, and even though it’s clearly cultural, the album takes a stand against target marketing. Maybe there is a more specific audience to which it will be appealing, but it isn’t according to race or ethnicity or age or gender. The collection’s appealing in terms of personality, taste, a humorous twist with a quality not met by any other kind of “party music” out there today.
The only disenchantment in the album comes from the lack of any true palpable personal or emotional connection between the music and the artist—don’t get me wrong, I doubt there’s anything more personal than creation itself. However, El Guincho keeps safe distance from making Pop Negro anything other than a sort of superficial mood enhancer.
But I’ll leave you with this: If you’re a person looking for escape, just skip the drugs and turn to Pop Negro. Because in his hazy mix of nostalgia and ecstatic modernity, you remember that music can still be, amazingly so, fresh with promise and individuality that doesn’t lead to grinding in a club. It’s beautiful. It’s just fun.