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René

·3091 words·15 mins·
song-swap 2023
Jerry S
Author
Jerry S
Table of Contents

Listen
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  1. Youtube
  2. Youtube - Special COVID Quarantine Edition - HIGHLY recommended.
  3. Amazon Music
  4. Spotify

Intro
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Residente, a member of the “Calle 13” group has always sung controversial songs yet none have phased me. He has insulted many with his lyrics and has inspired many with them as well. This song, among another few, is one of his best in my opinion.

It has phased me.

I highly recommend listening to the COVID Quarantine music video and you’ll get to hear his real mother singing.

My Personal Link #

I grew up in a town in New York State. It doesn’t matter which one, but what does matter is that the house I grew up in was number 14. So much family lived in the house that it was named “the 14” for short (pronounced “the fourteen” in English). Or in Spanish, “la catorce”.

It was common to hear family say “let’s go back to the fourteen” instead of “let’s go home”. Or if asked where the next party would be the question might be phrased “Where are we doing the birthday party? Jose’s or the fourteen?”.

Even now, many years after the entire family has moved out of that house we still look back on those times as “when we lived in the fourteen”.

The name of the group Residente is a part of is called Calle 13 (street 13 in English) and it has similar origins to “the fourteen”. As kids they would visit Residente’s house on street 13 and would refer to the house that way. It’s not something special. I’m sure many families do the same in Spanish. I would be more surprised if other families didn’t do it.

To have a facet of life in common with the artist somehow makes their music more interesting. It’s even better when what they sing about is also relevant to me and my life experience.

I hope you enjoy the song.

Favorite lyrics
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The head, the knees, thighs and hips
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I know
I’ll sing it to you and that way you’ll learn it
The head, the knees, thighs, and hips
The head, the knees, thighs, and hips
The head, the knees, thighs, and hips
The head, the knees, thighs, and…

The rapper sings most of the song but the first few lines are sung by a voice that is supposed to be his mother. I think that every boy ever that has had a mother with even an iota of care would instantly be taken back to the feeling of being watched over in a caring way. No one sang to me growing up, but I was definitely cared for and this part really sets a tone for the flashback-melancholic way that the rapper sings the rest of the song.

I HIGHLY recommend the COVID quarantine version of the song because you’ll get to hear Residente’s mom sing and you’ll also hear Residente in a much more heart felt way.


Sad laugh
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I’m sad and manage to laugh
The concert’s packed and sold out, but I’m still feeling empty

Things can be going relatively well, and even astoundingly so, on the outside, but on the inside things can be very different.


Broken happiness
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My happiness is still broken

When did it break? Did I break it myself? The rapper sings this after his best friend was killed by four police officers. He has some external event to point to that was not under his control.

In my case though, I don’t know if I have an exact point in time to point to. Maybe it’s a series of events, and maybe I’m the one that broke it.


I wanna go back and be me
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A lot of the lyrics below are a spliced version of the actual lyrics because I cut out the ones that, even though they’re important, aren’t the ones that hit me the most. What’s left is the ones that I resonate with the most. (quick aside, I dislike the word resonate. It feels really cliché.)

Sometimes I just don’t wanna be in here
I feel so lonely here
In the middle of the party
I wanna be some place where nobody can bother

Burn my writing journal, drop all of my luggage
I wanna dial 7-5-5-0-8-2-2
Will anybody pick up?
And if someone picks up
I wanna say that I wanna drop the curtain on the play

That I don’t care about the tours, the albums, the Grammy’s
And that on Street 11

I wanna see Halley’s comet with mom again
I wanna go back to when
My windows were made of bright sun
And the heat of the day woke me up

I wanna go there, I don’t wanna leave that place
I wanna go back to when
They wouldn’t let me in cuz I dressed a mess
I wanna feel it again

When I didn’t have to lie
I wanna go back and be me

I want to go back and be me but stay the current me at the same time. Is that even possible? Can one touch the heavens without raising an arm towards the sky?


Rings of Nostalgia
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The song ends with his mom singing again and then the rapper, now an adult, joins in with his mother this second time around.

Rene - the last part of the song

At this point, in the official music video (not the quarantine version) he has joined his own son and has picked him up in his arms to be carried off the baseball field.

The last part of the song is a set of vocalizations that in my mind have now become synonymous with the piano tune that is commonly used to cue a flashback in some old 90s cartoons.

Piano Flashback sound it weirdly makes me think of. The feeling of Nostalgia is what they have in common.

Commentary on Mental Health
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If you look online and see reviews of the song, there are plenty, it has raised conversation about mental health in general but in particular mental health as a man.

I must look into this more deeply because this song seems to draw me in largely because of the nostalgia factor but also because I have had bouts with the mental health of others around me as well as my own.

Lyrics
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It can often be the case that the bending and rhyming of words in one language will not translate well to the bending and rhyming of words in another. I tried to translate this song and it became more apparent this is the case with the rap genre.

Once again, I’ve done my best to make it “rappable” in English but it’ll take a rap master to really bend the words in English and make them work with the original instrumentation of the song.

Album Cover

As always, any feedback is welcome.


[Mamá]
René, ven, vamo’ a estudiar
Sí, te voy a hacer una pregunta

[Mother]
René, c’mon, we’re gonna study
Yes, I’m going to ask you a question

Tú me la contesta’
¿Con qué parte del cuerpo
Jugaban pelota los indios taíno'?

and you answer, ok
Which parts of the body
did the Taíno Indians play ball with?

René, contéstame
Sí, es fácil

René, give me an answer
C’mon, it’s easy

Atiéndeme, atiéndeme, mírame
¿Con qué parte del cuerpo?, piensa
¿Jugaban pelota los indios taíno'?

Listen to me, listen to me, look here
which parts of the body, c’mon think,
did the Taíno Indians play ball with?

Ya sé
Te la canto y entonce’ así tú te la vas aprendiendo
Cabeza, rodilla, muslos y cadera
Cabeza, rodilla, muslos y cadera
Cabeza, rodilla, muslos y cadera
Cabeza, rodilla, muslos y…

I know
I’ll sing it to you and that way you’ll learn it
The head, the knees, thighs, and hips
The head, the knees, thighs, and hips
The head, the knees, thighs, and hips
The head, the knees, thighs, and…

Desde pequeño quería ser beisbolista, no llegué
Así que aprendí a batear hits por encima de una pista
Volví a tomar alcohol en mi despacho
Escribo bien sobrio, pero escribo mejor borracho

As a kid I dreamt of playing baseball, but didn’t make it
So I learnt to hit home runs and run round a soundtrack
I drank again and got crunk in my studio
Sober I’m good, but I write better when I’m falling over

Cuando caigo en depresión
Mis problemas se los cuento a la ventana del avión
El estrés me tiene enfermo
Hace diez años que no duermo

When depression pulls me in
I therapize my problems with the window of a plane
All the stress is making me sick
It’s been a decade since I last slept

El IRS me sigue investigando, me estoy divorciando
Pero no importa, yo sigo rimando
Cometo errores, pero hago lo que puedo
Aprendí a aterrizar sin ruedas

I’m being looked into by the IRS, I’m getting divorced
But it don’t matter, I keep on rhyming
I make mistakes, but I do the best I can
I learned to land without the landing gear

Y aunque en la calle me reconocen
Ya ni mis amigos me conocen
Estoy triste y me río
El concierto está lleno, pero yo estoy vacío

And even if I’m known all over the streets
The friends I got don’t really know me
I’m sad and manage to laugh
The concert’s packed and sold out, but I’m still feeling empty

En la industria de la música, todo es mentira
Mi hijo tiene que comer, así que sigo de gira
Solo me queda lo que tengo
No sé pa’ dónde voy, pero sé de dónde vengo

In the music business everything’s a lie
But my son’s gotta eat, so I keep on touring
All I’ve got left is what I own
Don’t know where I’m going, but I know from where I came

Me crié con Christopher, mi pana
Tiramos piedras juntos, rompimos un par de ventana’
Corríamos por la calle sin camiseta
En las parcela’ de Trujillo, cuesta abajo, en bicicleta

I grew up with Christopher, my homey
Together we chucked stones and broke more than a couple of windows
We ran in the streets with our t-shirts off
Through the farms of Trujillo, heading downhill, on our bikes

La bici encima del barro
Con un vaso de plástico en la goma
Pa’ que suene como un carro
Recargábamos batería con malta india Y pan con ajo, nadie nos detenía
Éramos inseparables, hasta que un día

The bike riding on the mud
With a plastic cup on the wheel
To make it sound like a car
We’d take a snack break with Malta India
and garlic bread knots, no one could stop us then
Never one without the other, until one day

Lo mataron entre cuatro policías
Mi alegría sigue rota
Se apagaron las luces en el Parque de Pelotas
Ya no queda casi nadie aquí

He was killed by a group of four cops
My happiness is still broken
The lights in the Baseball Stadium have all gone dark now
There’s barely anyone else left here

A veces ya no quiero estar aquí
Me siento solo aquí
En el medio de la fiesta
Quiero estar en donde nadie me molesta

Sometimes I just don’t wanna be in here
I feel so lonely here
In the middle of the party
I wanna be some place where nobody can bother

Quemar mi libreta, soltar mis maletas
Quiero llamar al 7-5-5-0-8-2-2
A ver quién contesta

Burn my writing journal, drop all of my luggage
I wanna dial 7-5-5-0-8-2-2
Will anybody pick up?

Las peleas con mi padrastro, cuando perdía el control
Las resolvía con él, viendo un partido de béisbol
Me invitó a pelear un par de veces
Me escapé de casa un par de veces

The fights with my stepdad, when he lost all control
We patched things between us up, watching tons of baseball games
I almost fought him a bunch of times
I ran away from home a bunch of times

Pero nunca faltó el alimento
Nos defendió con música, tocando en casamientos
A veces al horno, a veces de lata y microondas
Compartíamos todo, la mesa era redonda

But we always had food and didn’t starve
He made ends meet with music, playing at weddings
Sometimes from the oven, or a can, or the microwave
We shared everything, our table was round

Clase media-baja, nunca fuimos dueños
El préstamo del banco se robaba nuestros sueños
La cuenta de ahorro vacía
Pero mami bailando flamenco nos alegraba el día

Lower middle-class, we never owned a thing
The bank loan that we had stole all of our dreams
The savings account was empty
But mom would dance flamenco and brighten up our day

Dejó de actuar pa’ cuidarnos a los cuatro
Y nos convertimos en su obra de teatro
Ella se puso nuestras botas
Y su vida fue de nuestros logros y nuestras derrotas

She stopped acting to care for the four of us
And we became her theatrical production
She sacrificed herself for us and
Her life was filled with all our successes and all our failures

Mi padrastro se fue con otros peces
Nos mudamos de la Calle 13

My stepdad went swimming with other fishes
And we moved from Street 13

Me fui a buscar la suerte en un mar de paja
Y mi vida entera la empaqué en una caja
En la universidad de arte me becaron
A la mitad de mis amigo’ los mataron

I went to find some luck in a sea of straw
And I packed my entire life into a box
In college the art school gave me a degree
They killed half of my friends

Empecé a rapear de nuevo
Empecé a creer de nuevo
Volví, saqué un disco
Me comí el mundo de un mordisco

I started to rap again
I started to create again
I went back, put out an album
I took a bite outta the world

En Puerto Rico despidieron empleados
Insulté al gobernador y quedó televisado
Censuraron cuatro años de mi calendario
Abuela murió, no me vio tocar en el estadio

In Puerto Rico they laid off employees
I insulted the governor and they showed it on tv
They censored 4 years of my schedule
Grandma died, she never saw me in the stadium

Dije to’ lo que sentí
Me quieren más afuera que en mi propio país
Pero aunque mis canciones las cante un alemán
Quiero que me entierren en el viejo San Juan

I said what I felt
They love more abroad than in my own nation
But even if a German is singing my songs
I want them to bury me in Old San Juan

Puede que la tristeza la disimule
Pero estoy hecho de arroz con gandules
Y me duele
No importa que el ron de la madrugada me consuele

Maybe I’m hiding the sadness I feel
But I’m made out of rice and beans
And it hurts
It doesn’t matter that the morning rum is there to console

Y desde adentro de la pulpa, si la cagué
A mi país le dedico cuatro pisos de disculpas

And from deep down inside me, if I messed up
I dedicate four floors of sorry’s to my country

Ya no queda casi nadie aquí
A veces ya no quiero estar aquí
Me siento solo aquí
En el medio de la fiesta
Quiero estar en donde nadie me molesta

There’s barely anyone else left here
Sometimes I just don’t wanna be in here
I feel so lonely here
In the middle of the party
I wanna be some place where nobody can bother

Quemar mi libreta, soltar mis maletas
Quiero llamar al 7-5-5-0-8-2-2
A ver quién contesta

Burn my writing journal, drop all of my luggage
I wanna dial 7-5-5-0-8-2-2
Will anybody pick up?

Y si me contestan
Quiero decirles que quiero volver
Que quiero salir de este hotel
Y desaparecer

And if someone picks up
I’ll them that I wanna go back
I wanna leave this hotel room
And disappear

Y si me contestan
Quiero decirles que quiero bajar el telón
Que a veces me sube la presión
Que tengo miedo que se caiga el avión

And if someone picks up
I wanna say that I wanna drop curtain on the play
That sometimes my blood pressure spikes
That I’m afraid that the plane is gonna crash

Que no me importan las giras, los discos, los Grammy’
Y que en la Calle 11

That I don’t care about the tours, the albums, the Grammy’s
And that on Street 11

Quiero volver a ver El Cometa Halley con mami
Quiero volver a cuando
Mis ventana’ eran de Sol
Y me despertaba el calor

I wanna see Halley’s comet with mom again
I wanna go back to when
My windows were made of bright sun
And the heat of the day woke me up

A cuando me llamaban pa’ jugar
A cuando rapeaba sin cobrar
Quiero sacar las cartas de pelotas del envase
Volver a robarme segunda base

To when they called me to go play
To when I rapped for free back in the day
I wanna take out the baseball cards from the bin
And steal second base again

En verano, hay navidades
Limpiar la casa con mis hermano’, escuchando a Rubén Blades
Quiero volver, ir al cine en la semana
Y llegar a la escuela de arte’ en la’ mañana'

In summer there was Christmas, We’d clean the house with my bros, listening to Reuben Blades
To go back to going to the movies during the week
And go to class in art school in the morning

Quiero quedarme allí, no quiero salir de allí
Quiero volver a cuando
No me dejaban entrar porque me vestía mal
Quiero volver a sentir

I wanna go there, I don’t wanna leave that place
I wanna go back to when
They wouldn’t let me in cuz I dressed a mess
I wanna feel it again

A cuando no tenía que fingir
Yo quiero volver a ser yo

When I didn’t have to lie
I wanna go back and be me

Cabeza, rodilla, muslos y cadera
Cabeza, rodilla, muslos y cadera
Cabeza, rodilla, muslos y cadera
Cabeza, rodilla, muslos y cadera

The head, the knees, thighs, and hips
The head, the knees, thighs, and hips
The head, the knees, thighs, and hips
The head, the knees, thighs, and hips