After tearing up the Spanish music scene for the better part of two years, Barcelona-based trap group PXXR GVNG have dropped their first official full-length release titled Los Pobres via Sony Music España. The major label co-sign is a strong indicator of the success the group has been able to attain, largely through the Internet as Spain’s answer to the omnipresent hip-hop of the American South.
While PXXR GVNG – that’s “Poor Gang” for those of us who don’t speak Tumblr – clearly has its roots and most loyal fanbase at home in Spain, the structure and overall sound of their records at times rely too heavily on their American predecessors. There’s obviously a market for raw Spanish-language rap that lies outside of reggaeton, but the group would benefit from injecting more of their own local flavor and influences into the music.
Los Pobres wastes no time launching into the widely upheld pillars of trap music, from tales of a crime-addled past life (“Drug dealer, mami, yo era un drug dealer/Un thriller, mami, mi vida es un thriller,” Yung Beef raps on “Ex-Drugdealer”), pleas for absolution (“Perdoname Dios”) and Scarface references (“Cambios”). You’ll quickly lose track of how many times you hear the official trap siren noise, which at this point is as ubiquitous as an airhorn.
But the group, made up of MCs Yung Beef, D. Gomez, and Khaled, and producer Steve Lean, certainly can’t be accused of failing to pay homage to the trap gods that came before them. They enlist ATL beatmakers like Southside and 808 Mafia, have used sound bites from Future’s interviews on their mixtapes, and have even forayed into Spanglish territory, with mixed results (“I love pussies, so pussies love me” from the aptly-titled “I Love Pussy” sounds like a dire misuse of Google Translate). The overall spirit of the album makes for suitable listening material for fans of codeine rap, regardless of whether or not they’re fluent in Spanish.
“Como El Agua” is the highlight of the first half of the album, with a catchy hook and equally fiery turns from each MC. PXXR GVNG hit their stride in the second half, however, when they flow over moodier beats. Alternating between Beef and Khaled’s more amped up bars and D. Gomez’s despondent, autotuned vocals seems to work best for them as a blueprint. “Cantando Dinero,” “La Familia,” and “Cigala” all represent the best uses of this formula, which has definite potential as a one-two punch over some more innovative sounds.
The loyal fanbase the group has already attained will not be disappointed with Los Pobres, which combines all the elements that their young admirers revere them for – trap sensibilities, crass innuendo, and delivery that vacillates between emo and angsty. It’s also a promising introduction for new listeners, teasing what the group may be able to accomplish when and if they decide to experiment with a sound that is more distinctly their own. In the meantime, the album can serve as a respectable addition to the trap canon, even if the fact that it’s in Spanish doesn’t necessarily mean it’s saying anything new.