BY JOSÉ CARLOS MARULANDA
“Sudaka,” a term used in Spain as a cuss word for South Americans, has been wittily appropriated by London-based rapper Mike Kalle in his new outstanding album.
The combination of his strong and energetic Londoner diction with his heavy Colombian slang produces a Spanglish delivery that is unique and natural, easily recognizable to the more than one million Latinx living in the United Kingdom. The clarity in his diction also means our Latinx family in the United States will understand every word, though maybe not all references.
The sounds that adorn Kalle’s distinct voice throughout “Sudaka” are a blend of Latinx rhythm, soulful jazz, and fresh hip-hop beats. This adventurous combination of rhythms parallels the underlying message of unity and positivity.
Though Kalle himself has notably steered away from the usual sexism and misogyny so rampant in nearly all genres of music today, the album is blemished by a feature where women are described as disposable. An attitude that many of our young Latinx men still carry, unfortunately.
Listening to “Sudaka” will not give listeners outside of London or the United Kingdom a thorough idea of life for Latinx immigrants here, but it does give you snippets of it. The artist, who has been around for at least a decade, has matured from doing straightforward street music to talking about immigrant experiences in the streets with some political context.
Dotted around the album, you hear revolutionary affirmations, such as “the South American indigenous soul … an identity for all of our people” and “sending love to my patria linda from esta isla fría.” These are phrases that no doubt resonate with the Latinx diaspora everywhere.
Probably the most outstanding song in the album is also named “Sudaka,” featuring Tito, a young bohemian Afro-Colombian street performer well known to commuters in London’s tube system. Tito’s soulful chorus nostalgically honors our ancestors and motherland.
Overall, this album is representative of the development of decades of a culture that is being constructed in the United Kingdom by young Latinx immigrants.
You can listen to “Sudaka” by Mike Kalle on Spotify here.