Two Spanish publicists have created a series of images destined to make the rounds with history nerd reggaetoneros — and sorry, no, it’s not a bunch of El General portraits. Mala Musa, a Madrid design duo comprised of María Florit and Laura G. Polanco, used quotes from popular bachata, reggaeton, and Latin pop songs to soundtrack the thoughts of famous people throughout history. “Uno, dos, tres, ¡cuatro! I know you want me,” says Pitbull. Or was that his fellow internationally acclaimed thought leader Pythagoras?
Mala Musa’s pairings serve some surprising connections. Orson Welles and Daddy Yankee are shown to share a yearning for extraterrestrial acknowledgment. Aventura aides Pablo Neruda with a pick up line.
The link between Shakespeare and Nicky Jam’s existential leanings seems weak, but there’s no doubt Goya and Calle 13 would have attended the same perreos.
Mala Musa’s joke hinges on the fact that reggaeton seems dissonant from the work of fine artists, legendary CEOs or dearly departed athletic legends. Or maybe we’re laughing because it’s obvious that Graham Bell would have made that first phone call with lyrics from Nicky Jam’s “Travesuras,” had Bell lived in the days of the track’s Medellín masterminds Sky & Mosty.
Truth be told, this is far from the first time that reggaeton has been thrust into the literary dialogue.
Latin America’s largest college, the Universidad Nacional Autonóma de México, launched a campaign called “Perrea un Libro” last year in which Panamanian singer Baby Killa rapped the words of Fernando Curiel’s book El Tren Subterráneo over a beat by DJ Chango.
But here, the dissonance struck the wrong chord with the public. Social media reaction was swift and brutal, with people saying that the campaign was sexist (for promoting reggaeton) and/or classist (for implying that reggaeton fans didn’t read). UNAM quickly took down the video and tried to pretend like it never happened.
We’re guessing that Mala Musa’s more lighthearted shot at integrating reggaeton with parts of culture deemed academic and historic will be taken in a more positive manner by followers of the meme zeitgeist.
You can buy select posters at Mala Musa’s website.