Alchemy and serendipity are, understandably, both considered these days to be fanciful and archaic concepts best relegated to inspiring international bestsellers or early-2000s rom coms. The notion of transmuting one set of disparate elements into another entirely different type, or of a confluence of good fortunes being directed like pieces on a game board by a pantheon of higher powers, is the kind of idea handily dismissed as the stuff of fiction and fantasy. But don’t tell that to Los Rarxs.
The Puerto Rico-based trio composed of Vento Alejandro, FOKINFROID and Erre credit the entire success of their sound on the sonic alchemy that happens every time they lock themselves inside the recording studio. As Orteez, their longtime producer and unofficial fourth member who has also worked on projects with Tainy and Álvaro Díaz, describes it, “Everyone compliments each other and fills a void. FROID brings contemporary-style storytelling and references. For more poetic, classic, folkloric wordplay we got Erre. And for R&B-ish, analog, [alternative] rock flow there’s Vento.”
The end result of this mishmash of styles? As they walk a tightrope from genre to genre—sometimes from one verse to the next in the same track—they dare you to label their sound as you wish: Latin trap, neo soul, alternative hip-hop, and even jazz fusion.
Their third official EP, Dos de Una, released April 16, is made up of two tracks that serve as a piscolabis, or snack, to appease fans while they work on a future full-length project. The lead single, “Poca Ropa,” crosses off all the checkmarks of what makes Los Rarxs such an exciting sound, juggling aggressive rhymes with sexy vocalizations, floating over a seductive chillhop beat that makes their unique footprint all the more evident. That the band came together at all is nothing less than the work of fate.
“I was looking for a guitarist for a project and found a guy on Soundcloud, but he ended up being a no-show,” FROID shares about the serendipity that led them to each other in the summer of 2018. “So I hit up Vento, who I didn’t know, and that’s how we met. If that first guy hadn’t dipped out, this band probably wouldn’t exist.”
That the band came together at all is nothing less than the work of fate.
Their roots are spread over nearly all corners of the island. Vento was raised on the beachy west coast, FROID is an urban metropolitan area local, and Erre hails from Cayey, the same hilly rural town that produced Wisin & Yandel. Yet, any and all doubts about whether the group could work together were erased once they put out Sonido Porno—their debut EP with Orteez in 2019. Striking while the iron was hot, they almost immediately went to work on a follow-up EP, recording 2020’s Vente Bailando in the span of just one week at New York City’s Plus One Recordings with the help of producer Miguel Balbi. This time, fate reared its head again and they snagged a collaboration with actress Jackie Cruz who lent her vocals to the sultry single “Negra Chocolate” and also appeared in the subsequent music video.
The pandemic put a screeching halt to any plans the group had for trampolining off of the positive reception that EP had, but they banded together and pushed forward. While they lamented the loss of doing live shows, they were confident their music was strong enough to absorb the pause and survive, and so they continued sharing ideas for future tracks over WhatsApp voice messages and eventually recorded new stuff—including a live streamed VR show—when curfew was lifted in Puerto Rico.
Staying in tune with each other is a big part of what the group deems their working formula. “There’s no ego here,” Erre says. “When we hear a new beat, we already see who will fit where, we write fast, and when we’re recording, it’s [a] quick in and out of the booth to keep that energy up. It’s exciting!”
Vento elaborates further, sharing that “Spontaneity is very important to what we do. Doing it in the moment we feel makes [the music] stronger. You can’t lie when you’re improvising, and at the end you have to work with what you have and we like that challenge.”
Spontaneity is very important to what we do.
Their influences run the gamut of sounds, with Orteez recalling acts like Sasha, Tiësto, Dieselboy, Flying Lotus and J Dilla, while Vento professes he can bond with anyone over a shared appreciation for Dräco Rosa. For musicians living on such a relatively small archipelago like Puerto Rico, those bonds go a long way towards establishing your voice among fans and peers alike. Fortunately, that respect from fellow acts hasn’t been hard to come by.
“Puerto Rico is small and most acts perform constantly in the same spaces. Camaraderie here comes from seeing fellow acts reinventing themselves and hustling despite how difficult these last few years have been,” says FROID. “You get excited about them and support them. I don’t see a lot of haters [in the community].” To give credence to his words, Orteez points out that “Déjalo Ir”, the second track off Dos de Una, samples a Buscabulla song that the popular Puerto Rican synth pop band, who are fans, were more than happy to share.
There’s no ego here.
With one last pitch to new fans, FROID underlines the characteristics he feels makes Los Rarxs appealing to listeners. “Vento is a musician and singer who brings that emo rock vibe, Erre is the guy whose raps have a soulful almost salsa-esque influence, like Don Omar in his prime, and then I’m more fast-paced trap sound but I can hit that R&B too,” he says.
“What makes us unique and weird individually is what also makes us unique and weird as a group,” adds Vento fittingly. Los Rarxs wouldn’t have it any other way.
Editor’s Note, May 13, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. ET: This post has been updated to reflect Miguel Balbi’s collaboration.