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Juicio Final

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Hector El Father 10/21/2008

Review

In 2008, a couple years after his chart-topping hit single "Sola" confirmed his superstar status, Hector el Father announced his pending retirement from reggaetón in order to devote himself to Christianity. While it's routine to scoff at such announcements -- particularly by American rappers, who threaten retirement so often it's become something of a joke -- one listen to Juicio Final should convince listeners that Hector el Father is serious. Unlike Jay-Z, for instance, who announced his retirement while he was at his peak, in hopes of going out on top of the rap game with his best-ever effort, The Black Album (2003), Hector el Father chose as his final statement Juicio Final, far and away his least commercially oriented album to date. From the opening track, the six-minute "Intro," a lengthy and heavily biblical conversation with God in which he questions the consequences of his life as a reggaetonero, it's clear that Juicio Final is an album concerned not with hitmaking and chart-topping, but rather with weightier concerns such as the fate of the protagonist's soul. Following the six-minute intro, Hector el Father indeed bears his soul on "Mi Testimonio," a powerful song on which he explains his reasons for leaving reggaetón behind in favor of Christianity. Subsequent songs are more topical, keeping with the same overall theme of "final judgment." For instance, "La Boda" explores matters of sexuality in ways one perhaps never expects to hear expressed within the context of reggaetón, a style of music notorious for its sexist attitudes, while the song that follows, "Payaso," is strikingly honest about how Hector el Father no longer wants to feel like a "clown" who performs knowingly stupid music for the amusement of others. Halfway through the album, after Hector el Father essentially confesses his litany of sins, Juicio Final makes a turn toward penance with "Y Llora," the album's most heartfelt song and also its most surprising. For one, it's a pop/rock ballad; not only is there no dem-bow rhythm, but there's no beat whatsoever. Backed by guitar, bass, and drums -- a real band, by the sound of it -- Hector el Father sings rather than raps, and the result is surprisingly effective. The next song, "Te Vi Llorar," is another highlight stylistically atypical of reggaetón; though previously released on Mi Trayectoria, it fits in perfectly here on Juicio Final. The latter half of Juicio Final is less interesting, as the downcast mood starts to drag after the couple mid-album highlights, particularly with the back-to-back sequencing of "Si Me Tocaras" and "Perdóname." While Juicio Final isn't any fun and goes too far, crossing the line between forthrightness and self-flagellation during the latter half of its hour-long duration, it's surely one of the most thoughtful and boldly sincere reggaetón albums to date, perhaps opening the door for more self-reflection within the genre. Perhaps most interestingly, it remains to be seen what becomes of Hector el Father -- as, again, such "retirements" rarely endure -- but his decision to leave reggaetón behind for Christianity is curious if not totally original (ten years earlier Vico C made a similar career decision, ultimately returning with Christian-themed music). ~ Jason Birchmeier
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Intro Hector El Father 5:43
  3. 2 Mi Testimonio Hector El Father 4:5
  4. 3 Se Nos Cae La Casa Hector El Father 3:44
  5. 4 La Boda Hector El Father 3:48
  6. 5 Payaso Hector El Father 4:24
  7. 6 Y Llora Hector El Father 4:40
  8. 7 Te Vi Llorar Hector El Father 3:36
  9. 8 Entre el Bien y el Mal Hector El Father 4:52
  10. 9 Si Me Tocaras Hector El Father 4:5
  11. 10 Perdoname Hector El Father 3:48
  12. 11 Tocaste La Puerta Hector El Father 4:28
  13. 12 De Que Nos Vale Hector El Father 3:19
  14. 13 Juicio Final Hector El Father 6:3

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