There was a time when trap en español was not the big show in Puerto Rico. During these long-gone days (say, six years ago), Ele a El Domino was not drawling at you from mansions with Ozuna and El Conejo Malo wasn’t on Beats 1 repping Trap Kings, baby. Reggaeton ruled, and there were heavy barriers between its practitioners. Despite some early pioneers like Arcángel, those who would hold the torch for Latin trap had to scrap for the spotlight.
It was during this time that Remezcla filmed its Trilligan’s Island doc, a portrait of an upstart hip-hop and trap scene so scrappy that they were performing while getting tattoos inked on stage. Among the leaders of this electric moment were a raunchy trio named Füete Billete, whose members Felix Hilera (aka BB Johnson) and Carlos Santiago (aka Pepper Kilo) were veteran players. Not ones to let perreo have all the fun, the group forged a name for themselves built on party music — namely crashing, bass-heavy beats with lyrics that were seldom filtered. They released “Bien Guillao” in late 2012, and their game-changing album Música de Capsulón in 2013.
After a quiet spell, early last year the crew dropped two releases that seemed to be openers to a winning streak; a NAAFI-produced collab with Spain’s Yung Beef and the bedspring-creaking anthem “Trå.” The tracks were strong, the next album had a title (Papelón City), things were looking good. But then curiously, as early adopters of the genre, Füete went silent again.
Contacted via email by Remezcla, the group explains, writing back with details. “After the last single we stopped recording for awhile, and then after a year we decided to get back together with new management: Eli Soto and Felix Aleman Raaneim of Gold Goons Music. We decided to put [already announced album] Papelón City aside because we were creatively blocked with the project. We hope to give it another try at some point when you least except it. For now, we’re going to keeping putting out singles and videos more frequently, with some features and maybe a mixtape later on this year.”
Papelón may have gone the way of Atlantis (may it rise again someday), but the good news is that in Füete’s opinion, the Puerto Rican hip-hop scene is thriving. When asked to describe what’s been cracking in the independent scene in these post-María days, they namecheck groups like their Trilligan’s co-stars Jazz Bandana, plus Yensanjuan, Audri Nix, JoseYellow, and Brray. Shoutouts were also delivered to the next generation — Füete was especially hype on the work of YungBoi, Enûma, Fabiio, GabyChuleta. And there may be more opportunities these days for artists of this caliber. Thanks to major stars like Anuel AA, Bad Bunny, and El Dominio, Füete says there’s more exchange between genres and fewer walls.
Perhaps the even better news is that the group is finally ready to start putting out music again. They’re kicking off the current run with “Jugo’e Piña,” a paper umbrella in the lean-type summer jam that reflects the group’s conviction that trap is feel-good music. When we asked them what they thought of the current commercial blow-up of the genre they’ve been working on for a minute, they went for the positive. “People are always looking for music that makes them feel good, dance, laugh, bellaquear, disconnect from the bullshit.” Are they feeling a way about the mega success of relative newcomers in the game? Not the way they tell it. “If we had something to do with [the rise of Latin trap], or if people think that we invented it, coño, that’s great! But I don’t think that we were the only ones.”
Stream “Jugo’e Piña” above, and keep an eye out for new music soon.