Agorazein’s ‘Siempre’ LP is a Sophisticated and Sleek Statement on Spanish Hip-Hop

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It’s been a minute since decade-old madrileño hip-hop crew Agorazein dropped an album — solo projects like Sticky M.A.’s 2014 Chill Trill and C. Tangana’s 10/15 mixtape were some of the last full productions we’ve heard from them.

Predictably, times have changed for the group since they last put an EP out. Purists (and there are many) can complain about the auto-tune and mac ’n’ cheese orange Lambos in Siempre’s teaser — an amalgamation of three of the record’s videos — all they want. AGZ wasn’t out to please the haters when they unleashed the 15-track album, which came to fruition when the group found themselves all living in the same area again, in the eastern Madrid neighborhood of Quintana.

“The idea was to make a movie and I’m going to tell it to you clearly: I want a Lamborghini,” emcee Fabianni told Mondo Sonoro of the video for “Qué Pasará,” which made it into the album’s teaser, in a recent interview. In the same article, C.Tangana cautioned heads that their distaste for auto-tune put them in the same camp as the people who chastised Bob Dylan for picking up the electric guitar.

It’s true that “Qué Pasará”’s lane switching and James Turrell-lit party scenes cut a drastic contrast with the crew’s earlier clips, like the North Face-clad street scenes of 2011’s “I Can’t Get It Out,” but who is asking artists to keep it stagnant these days? Though Agorazein is firm on the fact that they’re not out to copy North America’s big hip-hop names, they’re operating in Drake’s world. In 2016, the mainstream wants its hip-hop hybridized and sleek.

Siempre may be controversial, but it also counts as a sophisticated offering from this squad. C.Tangana explains that album was largely produced by Banana Bahia, and lyrics range from relationship traumas (“Mentira,” “Tentación”) to reflections on the long rap road (“100k Pasos,” “Ya Sabes,” and “Lo Mío.”) Agorazein are now game veterans and the new offering signals that they’ve stepped up the gloss of their production. The group’s own description of the collection is a literal rundown of themes: “young blood, futuro, perfection, dinero, fame, cálculo, drugs, subgrave, sex, odio, love, gloria, freedom, relax, time, musical aesthetic, medio-game, familia, crab, negocio, más.” Agorazein’s giving us life as they know it — we’ll have to wait and see who is down for the evolution.