Editor’s Note: This video contains graphic and potentially disturbing images of sexual assault and abuse.
Calle 13’s younger sister and band member iLe made her solo debut back in 2016, with an album full of nostalgic, old-timey gems. But as she prepares to release her follow-up record this spring, it’s clear she’s more interested in connecting the past to our present day. Her previous single, “Odio,” examined the U.S. government’s history of violence toward Puerto Rico, and her powerful new video for “Temes” takes a look at society’s ingrained patterns of machismo and abuse.
The video is difficult to watch. It centers only on iLe, as she lies on the ground and portrays a sexual assault victim in the immediate aftermath of an attack. She sings the lyrics directly into camera as she picks herself up, and her words are a loaded interrogation of how sexual violence is much more than an act of aggression or force. iLe declares that it’s a deeper sign of weakness and fear within men. “If you have everything under control, why do you fear me?” she asks.
In an emailed statement, iLe described the song as “a defiant bolero that exposes one of patriarchy’s darkest blind spots: ‘machismo’ is more than an expression of power, it is a weak and horrifying reaction of fear. A strong bass and soothing guitar is followed by an organ solo, leading the way to a song that intends to dance one through the rough reality we are still living and hopefully transform it.”
“Temes” is a moving entry into the current cultural conversation, as women continue to speak out against misogyny, harassment, and other examples of patriarchal abuse and misconduct. The song also suggests that while iLe’s first album was largely focused on heartbreak and relationships, her next release is going to generate some intense and thought-provoking discussions.
iLe is set to perform at the Carnegie Hall Citywide concert series at Museo del Barrio on March 16th.