I don’t know how to quite describe my choice for today. Its a great salsa song from Willie Colon that’s driven by the unique voice of Hector “La Voz” Lavoe. Hector is known as the greatest salsa vocalist, his work as lead vocalist with artists such as Willie Colon, Ruben Blades and other Fania label artists is unparalleled. His vocals captured a certain new Puerto Rican feel that was more urban than tropical, he really was a precursor to much of modern salsa/reggaeton artists. However, sometimes being a precursor means you tend to be an outlier of bad things to come. In his case, it was truly the bad boy persona. Years of depression, a bit of driven megalomania and rampant substance abuse equally derailed his life and drove him to make his best music. His stage presence was just positively brilliant and jubilant though, check out the Latin Music USA documentary to get a taste of it. This track “Ah-Ah/Oh-No” is off Willie Colon’s “El Juicio”. In a way its essence is all Hector. The album itself was a tongue in cheek reference to Hector’s then recent troubles with the law, drug possession, and picking the wrong fights with the wrong people.
However, around the 1:40 minute as his delivery becomes more childish and flippant of this luck, something tonally changes with the music. Hector’s voice starts to grow more melancholy, and Willie has to switch up the rhythm enough to follow what Lavoe is pleading about. There is still that groove, but as Hector starts declaiming about all the places he would take his love, because she MIGHT stick it out with him, it becomes increasingly clear that for Hector this isn’t a love song, nor a sad song, its a dance song but there is a feeling that you can’t quite pinpoint. Think about why he as a Nuyorican wants to take this girl all those places? He fucked up so badly that the only way to make up for all his shortcomings is to work twice as hard to redeem himself with her. I don’t know, whether he wants you to dance, feel sadness, or reflect with this song but that’s what makes this song so great…and I think that’s exactly what Hector was going for.
Check out this amazing live performance of another track by both Willie and Hector, its Timbalero…what a smash (and also off El Juicio)!