Listening to Real Hasta la Muerte has this critic at war with himself — my body appreciates the perfect blend of trap, hip-hop, reggaeton, and R&B that Anuel AA and his producers have so effortlessly crafted here, but my brain listens to these lyrics and is disgusted by many of the things the Puerto Rican trapper has to say. Keep in mind, this album doesn’t even include Anuel’s universally panned diss track aimed at fellow Puerto Rican rapper Cosculluela. Instead, it has a lot of mean-spirited lines aimed at women — to the extent that misogyny seems to be the main selling point of a lot of these songs. It’s difficult to defend a line like “No confío en puta’, pero qué rico e’ el cuero / Las tetas son de cien” (which roughly translates to “I don’t trust a bitch, but how delicious a slut tastes / Her tits are one hundred”), which is especially disappointing since the track with those lyrics, “Na’ Nuevo,” has one of the better vibes, musically, of any of the songs here. These problematic views on women only get comically weirder as the album goes on, with Anuel going as far as to compare his ex cheating on him with the war on ISIS on “Espina”— a comparison so nonsensical that you almost have to take it as parody — and eventually peaking with an uncomfortable story of a girl who gets drunk, on “Quiere Beber,” which just feels especially out-of-place this far into the #MeToo era. Still, the sonic elements here are hard to deny when they’re at their sharpest, as with “Hipócrita,” which features heavy synths and reggaeton singer Zion, who provides warm vocals to color Anuel’s colder tone. Anuel definitely has an ear for hooks, an excellent flow, and a surprisingly sturdy singing voice — but until he learns that women are more than just flesh, his music will remain pretty hard to listen to comfortably.
Published as part of What Meek Didn’t Do | The Rap Releases We Missed in 2018.