Despite having the literally the lowest-quality weed I have ever smoked (as in it’s brown, comes in blocks, and is full of sticks and seeds), Argentina seems to produce a surprising amount of reggae, ranging the spectrum from pop (Los Cafres), to roots (Dread Mar-I), to the populist and politically-tinged (Todos Tus Muertos, Resistencia Suburbana.) Perhaps one of the most interesting exponents of reggae argentino is Fidel Nadal, who aside from being one of the most visible representatives of Argentina’s tiny black minority, is also an observant Bobo Ashanti Rastafari. After fronting Todos Tus Muertos—a group influenced as much by punk and hardcore as by traditional reggae—and even joining Mano Negra on the classic Casa Babylon (1994), Fidel has cultivated a more mellow sound in recent years, a move that has increased his fanbase throughout Latin America while dissapointing many longtime followers. I’m certainly unqualified to comment on that controversy, but I must admit I was pleasantly surprised to hear “International Love” on the Bay’s urban Latino station last week. It’s not often that a reggae track makes it into the usual mix of reggaeton, bachata, and rock en español, and even rarer that an Argentine artist gets any significant play. Though it definitely opens Fidel up to charges of selling out, “International Love” is undeniably catchy and ebullient, the rare record one can enjoy equally whether smoking a joint solo or dancing in the club. I’ll certainly turn the volume up next time it comes on in the car.
Hit the jump for another video from the album International Love, “Luz y Compañia,” shot in the same Buenos Aires suburb where I once enjoyed a very sweet piece of afternoon delight. It was a long bus ride, but well worth the trip.