Free Download: Recluso’s Versus [P.R.]

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Time and again, Recluso has proven to be one of Puerto Rico’s best-kept secrets in the hip-hop and indie scenes. The man behind the mask has been making music since 2008, clutching his drum machine and spitting massive rhymes at live performances and on his numerous radio appearances. His latest projects-–La Tabla Periódica Volumes 1 and 2—have taken the MC in a new direction, positioning him as one of the premier beat makers in the scene. Now, he’s reached a new level of musicianship with his new release, Versus.

The album is ambitious to the point of obnoxiousness, and that’s why it’s one of the most important records to come out of the San Juan scene this year. In it, Recluso takes on the works of musicians of high caliber like Mima, Los Vigilantes, Alegría Rampante, Fantasmes, Balún, and Dandy and the Walkers, to name a few. He converts key songs from their repertoires into hip-hop tracks using various techniques like looping, layering, sampling, and breakbeats characteristic of his production methods. Needless to say, he’s a pioneer in his own right.

This rapper is a methodical man. According to his track-by-track manifesto published in Puerto Rico Indie, the album was recorded in chronological order. That order was dictated by first meetings with musicians, chance encounters, and approaches made by the bands themselves, who wanted their music to be remixed by Recluso (as is the case of Psiconautas). These are all musicians whose work he admires, so every track in Versus is crafted with surgical precision. The original works aren’t disturbed, as much as they’re pulled apart and recomposed. Some samples are slowed down and some sound like they’re barely there. Yet, as hip-hop philosophy dictates, the tracks are “revised” with the utmost respect. Kudos go out to Recluso for digging up the sample library of a Roland 909 and using it to create beats that have a vintage quality, yet sound like they couldn’t have been created at any other moment in history.

Aside from the incredible quality and the pioneering vision of Versus, it’s also surprising that, in a scene so small, Recluso managed to keep the album under wraps for months. In conjunction with the Web site and the public radio show Frecuencias Alternas, he launched the album last weekend to critical acclaim. And now, for your listening pleasure, it’s available as a free download on his bandcamp.