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Courage Defined: Vico C the Philosopher
9/5/10 - exclusive interview by Dante

Vico C

The biggest names in Puerto Rican Hip Hop today owe some of their success to  "el Filosofo."  Since his smash debut in 1989, Vico C has gone through the roles of addict, born-again Christian, and godfather of a genre of music in PR.  In this exclusive interview, Vico speaks on his first CD release in three years. What can you tell me about your latest projects?

This new album is called Babilla, which means courage, an urban term in Puerto Rico.  Courage for things not normal for an artist to say, because he may lose sponsors.  I don't know how to say it in English....


Say it in Spanish.


Tolerancia.  That's tolerance, right?  That's what I really mean, what I really want to say, because you have to have some guts to go against yourself.  The rest of the world expects retaliation.  When you avoid retaliation, you're being wise.  And to be wise, you need babilla, courage.  It's not that the whole album is about that, but it starts talking about that.  And that's basically the most important thing that I want people to learn, and listen from that album.


So that's the content, what can you tell me about the production.  Did you have Hip Hop producers or reggaeton producers?


This album, I did all the tracks but one.  When I use producers, I use them in like two albums or three, but basically I've done all my own music.  This is one of the albums that I've done completely. 


As far as guest appearances, do you have any on this album?


Yeah, I have artists like urban music movement.  Andy Montañez, doing a salsa, pure salsa.  Arcangel, which is one of the number one artists in urban music right now.  Some artists from the Hip Hop and reggaeton movement.  Singer called Gustavo Laureano, lead singer from La Secta AllStar, which is a very important group in Puerto Rico.  I have Angel Lopez, who used to be a lead singer from Son By Four.  I have special, very talented people, you know.


Are you doing any touring to promote the new album?


Right now I'm just doing promotion, then doing what we do.  Make it known, that's what I'm doing right now.  There's a lot of work to do, I really want people to feel this album.  I'm going to do some things that I haven't really done before to make this album be known and appreciated.  Touring is always going to be there as long as you are working, and keep in action. 


I'm really saying big things in this album, but now I'm a little more mature, and a little more worried about what's going on.  It's more important to me than ever before, that people understand that.  The fact that people need to understand that, listen to what I'm saying.  To know about the songs, to feel them.  And then I tour, when I sing, I'm not thinking of money or the great satisfaction that an artist receives when he's doing a show and people respond.  I really want to make an effect on them.  And them to make an effect on other people, because of my lyrics.  See, to me, that's priority. Of course, I gotta take care of business and everything.  But as an artist, as a man, priority to me is the effect that music makes.  The more they know about an album, the more they go to concerts, they more they receive and feel me.  I'm preparing that stage, I'm getting that theme set up right now by working for the album.  So people can feel me with a new theme when I go up on stage.  I want people to sing with me *laughs*.


You say that you're doing more mature music.  But if people listen to tracks like La Roca, that whole album was mature, even for music you did back in the 90's.


Yeah, I get what you're saying.  But let me be a little more clear about what kind of mature person I have developed into as an artist.  You can be intelligent and have a lot of information to give, another thing is being mature to know how to use that information, you know?  Now, I know more about that.  I know now what I know then, but now I know something that I didn't have control over.  I have more control over something I didn't have before.  And that is knowing how to think of everyone, and make those lyrics understandable for the masses.  And that's maturing. 


I know people very very very intelligent ignorant people, know what I mean?  I think it's being mature when you can be accepted to people.  Because you are understanding the feelings of people, and not just thinking about showing the information that you know.  That's more an ego trait than something coming from a mature person that desires the best of people.  There's a difference.  I used to be more philosophical, more political, more social.  Now I'm more spiritual.  And I was spiritual back then en La Roca, because it was a Christian album.  I'm still a believer, I'm still a Christian, but I was starving, basically.  I was ignorant about the way I should take things in my life.  Now the difference is that.


What did you do differently with this album?  Since you're the Godfather of Latin Rap in Puerto Rico, and the precursor to the reggaeton movement there, what did you do to appeal to the younger Wisin y Yandel crowd?


Not getting too far from what people are used to.  I analyze what people are used to in terms of sound.  I cement them to my idea, I don't do it backwards.  If I do it backwards, it won't work.  I really need to have an essence.  I have substance, I don't compete with other reggaeton artists.  Not because of being greater or worse, but because of being deeper because of lyrics.  I don't feel I can compete with them, or them with me.  The fans appreciate me for what I do.  Not because I've become a famous artist, but because of substance.  So when they see me, they have dancing, but they have substance. I don't compete, really. 


They can be bigger than me in popularity, but to me that makes no difference.  It could effect my ego, maybe, sometimes.  People say, "Que paso, what happened?"  You go two, three years without doing an album like now.  People don't know, they just think that you're over.  Because what they see is popularity.  Because of popularity, they think that everything works.  You're popular, you're happy, you got money, you got health, you got people around you, whatever.  So, it could effect the ego.  But at the end, when I analyze what priority means to me in my life, it makes no difference.  I just do my thing.


Back in the days of Recta Final and Viernes Trece, did you have any idea of how big what you were doing was going to blow up in Puerto Rico and start a movement?


I had the confidence of that happening, what I didn't see was how much I was going to be in the business of doing album after album.  But I always had the confidence of making a movement.  When I started, even as a kid, even before I started making underground tapes, I had reactions from people.  They knew about rap, but not in Spanish, they never understood.  They loved Hip Hop, but never understood it.  So when I changed the language, they always responded.  So that's all you need to make a movement, people responding to your idea.  That's a movement, right there.  As a kid, I was confident that would happen.  I loved people responding to it without promotion, radio or TV.  It's just logic, just common sense, from the time I put out an album and made myself a public figure.  Maybe I didn't see how big I was going to become, but I knew it was going to be a movement.


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