Florentino – CONTRABANDO VOL. 2 Review

Almost a year after Contrabando, Florentino is out with CONTRABANDO VOL. 2.

The six track album is exactly what we were expecting from the second chapter of Contrabando, which is to say a well balanced mixture of Latin rhythms that passes up the nostalgic, sentimental vein of his other projects like Fragmentos or Ilimtado and goes straight to make our perreo dreams come true.

It’s a pure celebration of bootlegging, as it’s largely made up of manipulated pieces and bare samples originally belonging to popular and less popular songs, mostly late 2000s RnB/early ’90s hip hop hits. In “DE CALLE”, Usher’s “Yeah” sneaks in for a moment to immediately give way to “Nothin’” by N.O.R.E. Different vibes in “RIP FUNK”, where the vocals from “Rip Groove” by Double 99 are looped throughout the whole song. Same for “BONES”, but with the chorus from “Thuggish Ruggish Bone”, by Bone Thugs and Harmony (!!!). Finally, Keyshia Cole’s “Shoulda Let You Go” for “LET YOU GO WITH EPIC B”, introduced by the nicest carillon jingle.

All this shows a deep intent of music research that links the artist’s background with present times, always staying true to his clearly distinctive sound. Indeed, you can immediately tell it’s Florentino’s work from the very beginning, as with “BAILOTEO”’s phone signal ring – “2 Late (Don’t Call)”, Fragmentos – or that theme that goes “el más romántico de los románticos” every time the beat shifts.

What really leaves a mark, though, is the effective effort in creating a new standard of reggaeton, made not only of dembow riddim and grinding, but also and above all of unusual materials accurately blended. In this regard, apart from samples, Florentino explores the function of casual colder segments that move away from the typically warm Latin vibes, naturally still present and prevailing, or fluid synths in sharp contrast to syncopation.

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