Reviewed on this page:
Lisa M - Flavor Of The Latin - Ahora Vengo Alborota... - Soy Atrevida -
Y Sobreviví - Respect
Lisa M was the Puerto Rican rapper/singer who kicked off the merenrap mini-genre in 1990 with the Vico-C-produced
"Tu Pum Pum" - an answer to El General's reggae "Tu Pun Pun," it was a catchy midtempo merengue with hip-hop scratches and a delightful
female-positive rap, with Santi as her foil.
Vico-C quickly cranked out similar hits for himself, Fransheska and El Comandante, but the craze
blew over by the end of 1991, only to be reborn a decade later as reggaeton. Throughout the ups and downs, Lisa M has stuck to her guns:
child-voiced but self-possessed and authoritative, she's like no one else in Latin music or hip hop, and at a lower sales level she
continues to explore the possibilities of her mixed genre affiliations.
I don't know anything about this one, except that "La Segunda Cita" and the title track were apparently hits in Puerto Rico. (DBW)
No Lo Derrumbes (1990)
A typically New York stir-fry of merengue, reggae and hip hop: the merengues are interrupted by turntable scratching, the
Spanish-language raps employ English cadences, and even where the drums are programmed, they're heavy on the timbales.
Just six tracks, breaking neatly into thirds: two reggae tunes with English-language vocals from Vico-C (?) ("JA-Rican Jive");
two conventional, minimalist hip hop cuts that could've been on contemporaneous Betty Boo records ("Para Entrar
En La Casa"); and two merenraps brimming over with assertive attitude (title track, "Tu Pum Pum"). All the songs have innovative rhythms and memorable hooks, so even though the running time
is short and I'm not crazy about reggae, there's really nothing to complain about.
All songs written by Vico-C and Lisa M (though Pochi Vasquez, and not Lisa, had been credited on Santi's
release of "Tu Pum Pum"); produced by Jorge Oquendo and Miquel Correa. No musicians are credited aside from Leticia Rivera
(backing vocals on the title track).
Flavor Of The Latin (1991)
Unaccountably, Lisa M dropped the meaningful raps and made a straightforward, dull party record, complete with a meaningless, trend-chasing punta tune ("Bim Bom Ben") and an
over-the-top, breathy seduction number ("Tiempo De Amar"). The stripped-down, percussive "Fiesta" is fun, though, and the rap/descarga "Pom Pata Um," with religious-sounding backing vocals,
ominous keyboard bass and timbales solos, is certainly unusual.
I believe the underproduced title track (with an uncredited guest rapper) and "Everybody Dancing Now" (which recycles the arrangement of "Pum Pum" without the wit) were the singles.
"Ingrato" sounds almost exactly like Madonna's "La Isla Bonita" - I'm guessing they both borrowed the approach from the same source.
I'm missing the credits on this one, so I don't know if this was her last album with Vico-C or her first without him.
Ahora Vengo Alborota... (1992)
This followup mostly sticks to straight merenrap ("The Queen"; "Subeme El Radio," with 440-style backing
vocals, arranged by Manuel Tejada) and reggae toasting ("Sound The Music," "Original").
"Mueve Tu Cuerpo" is the best track here - close to "Pum Pum"'s audacious sound, plus a brilliant, rapid-fire piano montuno.
But she hedges her bets with a couple of lightweight dance tracks ("Solo Un Poquito
Nene," a direct copy of Mariah Carey's "Emotions"; "Cumbanchero"), a nod to traditional Spanish music ("Fandango"), and a high-energy, curiously moving love song ("Call Me").
And she miscalculates badly by singing on the closing salsa "Te Tengo Loco": the number is routine though serviceable, but her voice - so authoritative when she's rapping - is distressingly puny.
Self-produced; there are a variety of writers and arrangers led by Henry Jimenez - Lisa M wrote one number, "The Queen."
Soy Atrevida (1996)
After a few years off, Lisa M came back with a faster, more electronic club beat, and a faster delivery to match (title track, where only the horns indicate her merenrap origins; "Muevelo").
"Tiene Que Ser Boriqua" is equally up-to-date, though it's hip hop instead of dance: the slow bass-heavy grind reflects the rapid ascent of West Coast G-Funk since Lisa's last outing.
But her approach to reggae ("Insobornable") is unchanged, and she includes one track with full merengue trappings and a humorous spoken voiceover ("Con La Mano En El Aire").
"Si No Estas A Mi Lado" is a slow spoken seduction over R&B backing, recalling Queen Latifah's "Let Me Count The Ways" or Betty Boo's
"Close The Door."
My favorite cut is "Eres Mi Todo" by Mikie Perfecto, where a reggae-rap verse meets a lovely sung chorus.
Most songs are writen with by Master Joe and O.G. Black or Mikie Perfecto - Lisa wrote "Prisoner Of Love" and produced with Eduardo "The King" Reyes.
Y Sobreviví (1999)
The first ten tracks ("Lado Rap") are hip hop produced by Lisa M; the final four ("Lado Meren Rap") are produced by Tejada.
She no longer sounds like she's having fun: her spare arrangements are slow-moving and not particularly enjoyable ("Egoista," which calls out a self-centered man in the tradition of "Tu Pum Pum").
"Abusaste" remakes "Usted Abusó" (covered famously by Celia Cruz and Willie Colón, and more recently by Daniela Mercury), but at such a sluggish tempo it's almost unbearable. "En La Pista," one of the few energetic tunes, has house-inspired mechanical backing,
but no real hook. Probably the best of her productions is a remake of an early hit ("No Lo Derrumbes"), and that's never a good sign. Tejada's songs are frantic as ever ("Vamo Pálla"), but not particularly
melodic, and aside from the fine closer "Mucho M´s," Lisa is barely audible - more an innocent bystander than a recording artist.
Musicians on the hip hop side include Christian Anderson (drums), Peter Klein (guitar), Bryan Hanzon (bass) and Justino Cardona (percussion); Tejada played his own keys and bass, with Juan "Chocolate"
De La Cruz and Okil Medrano on percussion and José Luis Mateo, Jesús Abreu and José Filete on horns.
By now meren-rap had achieved mainstream popularity as reggaeton, so after a few years as a TV host Lisa M made a return to recording, with name producers (DJ Urba & Monserrate y La Suprema) and a panoply of guests ("Asi Es Que Eh" with La Bruja, Huracán, K-Mil and Miss Waidy).
The problem is, reggaeton is so formalized that almost every song has the same beat, tempo, mood, subject, etc., as tunes like "Fuego," "Guayando" and "Me Doy Pela" are indistinguishable.
(The single "Hey Ladies" does extend the formula slightly with a R&B vocal hook.)
So the standout tracks end up being the ones that break with the fad: two salsa/rap hybrids ("Pa La Calle"; "Quitate" with Moncho Rivera) and the pseudo-romantic "No Puedes." Overall, Lisa M. doesn't bring enough personality to the project to elevate it above ordinary Latin dance product.
A 2007 Deluxe Edition includes "Nadie Como Yo" with India.