El Laberinto del Coco featuring Hijo de Borikén is Hip-Hop Bomba Fusion at La Respuesta, in Santurce, San Juan, Puerto Rico on Thu, Mar 17 at 9pm (8pm doors). This is a sponsored show, so entry is free.
El Laberinto del Coco is the next project of Puerto Rican percussionist Héctor “Coco” Barez after his decade of work with Hip-Hop legends Calle 13.
A Great Show
The labyrinth is a trip through Coco’s musical mind and it’s complicated, he’s Puerto Rican. LOL. A Laberinto del Coco show at La Respuesta is a walk through a nightclub with many rooms and there’s something different going on in each one. There’s Bomba Jazz, Bomba Rock, and now Bomba Rap which is a return to Coco’s beginnings.
El Hijo de Borikén and keyboard producer El S connected the island with Nuyorican Loisaida and The Bronx. He rapped about everything from making molasses (LOL) to the pride and frustration of being young and Puerto Rican (WEPA). A lot of people were singing along. Wow.
But the biggest star of the night wasn’t Coco or El Hijo. It was singer/percussionist Ama Rios who is core Laberinto, but is now making sweet Latin Alternative from the hospital during chemotherapy for Leukemia. (PICC Flow Suite). The Ama t-shirt is the hottest gear in Puerto Rico right now. It supports her treatments. We need to find her a bone marrow donor, and it must be a Latino. Find out what you can do at amariosmusic.com
Ama was in the room in another big way. She was the first woman primo Bomba drummer in Puerto Rico. The core of Bomba is a flirty game between the dancer and the primo. To change genders in a traditional culture was a very big deal. Now Urban Bomba in Puerto Rico is gender fluid. You dance whatever parts you feel and the batey (the sacred dance circle) will be with you. The women are fiery dancers, but the men are interesting too. Coco danced, which the audience loved.
Don’t leave a Laberinto show early because it usually ends with a master class in Bomba dancing. And the music returns to straight-ahead Bomba which is perhaps Coco’s greatest strength. After stretching the form around the block, Coco returns to roots and the ride is good. ¡Bombazo!
Bomba is Puerto Rico’s living song, drum and dance tradition. It was originally forbidden, but survived in secret at home for 500 years. That’s incredible because you can hear the Bomba barriles (drums) from a mile away.
Bomba is a communal culture. One of its signatures is the flirty game where the dancer challenges the lead drummer to follow them. The dancing is really beautiful.
When Bomba first left the island, legendary artists Rafael Cortijo and Ismael Rivera put the Bomba Sicá rhythm into what became New York Salsa. You don’t get Fania or Salsa Dura or Salsa Gordo without Bomba Sicá.
Today Bomba is an expression of Puerto Rican identity both on island and in the Diaspora.
Héctor “Coco” Barez
Héctor “Coco” Barez (Calle 13, NEA, SXSW, Kennedy Center, Puerto Rican Cultural Institute) is taking Bomba back out into the world again with his El Laberinto del Coco project (Coco’s labyrinth).
The El Laberinto del Coco Bomba Fusion Big Band makes Bomba Jazz, Bomba Rock, and even Traditional Bomba played like you never heard it before. Their Bomba Rock is something. It reminds us of Frank Zappa’s experimental Rock from the 1960s-1980s.
El Laberinto del Coco is one of the most interesting sounds coming out of Puerto Rico now. This is something new. During the pandemic, they’ve been busy composing and are going to premiere some songs at La Respuesta.
El Hijo de Borikén
El Hijo de Borikén (Emil Martínez Roldán) is a Puerto Rican rapper with a fierce flow. El es bien Boricua. He is the street and the streets of Puerto Rico are fuerte, fuerte, hacha y machete. His nickname says he is a son of Puerto Rico, but to the African Diaspora, he is also saying that he is a son (if you know what I mean). He sings to Orúla a lot, the orisha of wisdom.
El Hijo’s producer and pianist is El S (Anibal Vidal Quintero) of Orquesta El Macabeo.
El Hijo and El S are taking El Laberinto back into Hip-Hop which is one of the places where Coco comes from. We can’t wait to hear this.
La Respuesta is one of the top underground nightclubs in Santurce, San Juan, Puerto Rico. It’s been closed during the pandemic, and is just reopening. Yay!
It’s famous for dancing. The B-boys and B-girls are fly. Monday nights are legendary. The party is late, after midnight.
Caribbean culture is communal. We don’t live alone. Music and dance are inseparable like young lovers. Puerto Rico’s youth culture brings art and fashion onto the floor too. La Respuesta is the whole package. It is literally “the answer” to the question of how to live your fullest life in Santurce.
El Laberinto del Coco Featuring Hijo de Borikén
If you run with the African Diaspora in the Caribbean, you discover a parallel universe once you learn to read the signs. As you get hip, you start to see the signs everywhere. They were right there in front of your face all the time, but were invisible until you learned to read.
One of the ways we tell the future in Puerto Rico is to throw the coco (cowries). Well we can tell you that the future is right here, right now with El Laberinto del Coco and Hijo de Borikén at La Respuesta.
The band’s lineup is:
Hectór “Coco” Barez
Andres “Kino” Cruz
Jorge Andres Ferreras Patillaz
with El Hijo and El S of course.
The show is going to be under the full moon which is when Bomba is most intense all over the island. Yes this is worth traveling for. It’s going down as one of the highlights of Spring Break Puerto Rico 2022!