Not as hairy as they used to be, are they?…
Alfred Soto: AKA “Suite: Juanita Brown Eyes.”
David Moore: Didn’t know what to expect with this one, but a CSNY-sampling singalong wasn’t it — I’m drawn in by the Marc Anthony hook and inventive use of the sample, but the rapping seems like filler between choruses. And because of that, it seems like kind of a one-trick pony, though not a bad one — Nicki Minaj’s “Your Love” has a similar effect, and this is at least as good.
Al Shipley: There may be no better way to celebrate Latin pride than to demonstrate how different 3 Latin crossover acts can be and still find common ground on a great summer jam. The CSN sample may not exactly stay within the theme, but it’s hard to deny how perfect the hook works.
Jonathan Bogart: One of the mixes I daydreamed about making this year was a historical overview of Cuban music, from wax cylinders to modern mp3s, to which this would have been the capstone, the final (for now) word. Not just because it takes a familiar lick and melody from Stephen Stills’ attempt at replicating Latin music, folding it back in on itself to become the real thing all these years later; not just because Sen Dog namechecks mambo legend Beny Moré in his homestretch verse; not even because Pitbull is the latest in a long line of great Cuban-American showmen to grab America by its scruff and shake it for change. Well, all of that; but also because it’s a great celebration of Cubanismo — particularly Cubanismo in exile, or Cubanamericanismo — even insisting on the racial pride of descent from the extinct Taino tribe. Even the fact that Marc Anthony’s Puerto Rican plays into it: Cubanismo is much bigger than Cuba these days. Even a European mutt like me can holler along, as I’ve been doing four or five times a week for nine months straight. Slap me some DOMINOS.
Chuck Eddy: Wow, the best part of “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” (I think?) via “Guantanamera” (I think?) as Latin bugalu rap — probably the most polyrhythmic in its style I’ve come across since the long-gone mid ’90s of “Tres Delinquentes” by Delinquent Habits and “Tequila” by A.L.T. and the Lost Civilization. Plus: Letters to Castro! Not to mention the best Cypress Hill track (yep, “Insane In The Brain” included) I’ve heard since their debut album, not that I’ve been keeping very close tabs, admittedly. And Pitbull — maybe because he finally just put out his first album specifically marketed to the Latin audience, which just happens to have “Guantanamera” on it –seems to be leaning more blatantly salsa these days, or at least that’s my uninformed theory, judging from parts of recent songs I accidentally bump into on the car radio. Good for him. So am I allowed to hope that this means reggaeton’s over now? Also, can somebody please rap over Joe Cuba next? Anyway, if this had come out earlier in the year, it might have had a shot at my P&J singles ballot; as is, I’m a little concerned it might fade somewhat over the long haul, but I’ll stick my neck out numerically here regardless.
Edward Okulicz: A glorious sticky hot-weather collage. The backing vocals don’t so much signify summer as take you there and the beats drip appropriately with sweat. The sample is well-chosen and judiciously employed — instantly familiar, but perfect in its new context. Cypress Hill themselves sound more anonymous than I remember but it makes it easier to forget about “Hits From The Bong”, which I always hated. My favourite single of theirs was always “Tequila Sunrise” anyway. My second? Probably this, now.
Martin Skidmore: A very Latino track from a group that has made astonishingly little impact on me given their size and that I love hip hop. This rolls along appealingly enough, but it feels awkward a lot of the time, as if they haven’t integrated the different parts at all well. Pitbull works best on higher energy tracks, and in the end this does nothing much for me.
Michaelangelo Matos: Pitbull contributes not much. Marc Anthony owns the hook; finally, my sister Brittany, who’s been hounding me about Anthony for years, has got me nailed. Cypress Hill I never thought I’d care even a little bit about again, but that’s pop for you. Anyway, the details mean nothing; it’s the whole that matters. Which is to say that this pushes all my old-guy buttons at once: classic rock, early ’90s rap, ’70s low-rider funk. Most unexpected of all is the fact that the track’s MVP is none other than Crosby, Stills & Nash, whom I have never enjoyed until now.
Zach Lyon: It’s already an impressive feat that the formula of (Latinized CSN sample + Marc Anthony + Pitbull + oh yeah, also Cypress Hill) doesn’t hinge entirely on the quality of Pitbull’s verse. It’s almost creepy how well this all merges together into the same, undoubtedly well-constructed track, like someone dared Jim Jonsin to make it work and he rose to the occasion (though I admit, I keep rewinding after the Pitbull verse because it is pretty great).
Jordan Sargent: While Cypress Hill and Marc Anthony haven’t been relevant (to American pop charts at least, in the case of the latter) since the late-90s, Pitbull and Jim Jonsin, their two collaborators on “Armada Latina,” are both in the phases of their careers where overexposure has led to diminishing artistic returns. Thankfully though, no one here has decided to chase trends in the hopes of scoring an unexpected top 10 hit. Instead, the song seems borne out of a desire to entertain creative impulses and whimsy that one would associate with artists that have no delusions of grand pop success. But more importantly, the song plays to the strengths of everyone here. Cypress Hill get to do laid back, playful verses that are befitting of rap veterans. Marc Anthony, singing Spanish adult contemporary, is deployed tastefully. Pitbull, taking time off from his day job as Euro house guest rapper du jour, is back in his comfort zone as Latin America’s crossover star. And Jim Jonsin does his best J.R. Rotem impression in turning a hackish sample into a beat that is almost transcendent. I didn’t hear this on the radio enough this summer.