The only way Tapemasters Inc.’s Twins mixtape could be more Latino is if it came with a can of Goya beans. That said, the pairing of Big Pun’s verses and salsa icon Héctor Lavoe’s music (actually producer Willie Colón’s, since they were mostly his concoctions) is a match made in Boricua heaven. East Coast beatsmiths AC and Popular B sample some of the Caribbean genre’s best work from the 1970s, and mix classic Pun with verses from every current Latino MC imaginable.
A vision of the potential impact the Bronx giant could have had on the reggaeton movement is showcased in an update of Pun’s Puerto Rican anthem “100 Percent.” Unfortunately, the addition of Daddy Yankee’s unintelligible Spanish lyrics might deter the average fan of the crushing original. On “Cuban Connection” (a variation of the Wyclef-assisted “Caribbean Connection”) Pitbull steals the light from Pun’s protégé, Cuban Link, by dropping horn-ball joyas like, “Nosotros se los vamo a dar/Dame esa mulatita, que el bollo se le voy a mojar.” (We’re gonna hit ya/Gimme that Black girl, I’ma get her pussy wet.)
But even with 8-year-old rhymes, no one can outshine Big Moon Dog. On “Whatcha Gonna Do,” which samples one of Lavoe’s most popular songs “La Fama,” Pun sounds so relaxed you’d think he was kicking back with some tobacco and rum in San Juan. Two of the finest cuts, though, are “Monster Niggas,” with Fat Joe and Biggie, and “John Blaze 2006,” where the free-flowing horns sound as nasty as the Big Punisher’s complex rhymes.
For Pun fans, hearing the Dios MC rhyming over some of his home isle’s most culturally identifiable sounds is a destiny fulfilled. Regardless of the fact that they represent two different Latino generations, Lavoe and Pun will remain pa’ la gente.—JESÚS TRIVIÑO ALARCÓN