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Victor Manuelle combined salsa with urban music
Victor Manuelle combines salsa with urban music. Photo: Getty Images

The 'salsero' Victor Manuelle premieres album 'Lado A Lado B'

The Puerto Rican singer is considered one of the pioneers of fusing urban music with classic Caribbean sounds

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When Victor Manuelle released the first single from his new album in April, he made it clear it would be something surprising. In that song, called "Vamo a ver si el gas pela," he mixed the classic salsa rhythms of Cuba and Puerto Rico from the 70s, with the voice of Miki Woodz, who provided a modern air of urban music.

Lado A Lado B is now available in its complete form from Manuelle, considered one of the pioneers of fusing urban music with classic Caribbean sounds. Before releasing the record, produced by Sony Music Latin, he said "the street language that is used today in urban music is what the salseros did in the 70s."

According to the statement from the record company — which has released 20 albums by the artist — Manuelle's hope is to please lovers of traditional salsa sounds and to seduce fanatics of modern sounds. The singer said his musical career is supported "by both audiences."

On full hiatus amid the coronavirus pandemic, he realized he should combine both worlds in an ambitious work.

“Many think that because I am a sonero (salsa singer) I have to make more traditional music. There is an audience that demands that and there’s a group of young people who have known me since I collaborated with urban music stars. At this stage I want to please everyone,” he said.

On Side A of the album, Manuelle focuses on contemporary sounds, which also include notable collaborations. On the other hand, Side B, the traditional rhythms stand out. To do this, he recorded on two-inch tape, with analog sounds and live tracks that include pianos and a strong salsa accent.

The singer said it is the album he dedicated the most time to in his career. First, elaborating the initial ideas in Puerto Rico, then consolidating the whole process. For the modern side, he featured arranger Jay Lugo.

Among the collaborations, Colombian rapper Farina stands out in the song "Besito Suave," and "Víctimas Las Dos" with La India. It also includes “Decídi tener pantalones,” a song written and produced by Romeo Santos. For lifelong salseros, he provided arrangements by Luis Perico Ortiz, José "Lenny" Prieto and Sammy García, among other musicians.

The 15-song album went on sale last Friday, both in CD and vinyl formats. The singer, who stood out in the past for his collaborations with Tego Calderón, Farruko, Bad Bunny and Wisin & Yandel, wants a particular style that "youth continue to pay attention to our genre, that they see that it is valid and that it is a contemporary genre."

Miky Woodz, who featured on the first single, was in charge of completing the final production of the album. The great novelty was to include the deceased Marvin Santiago, whose voice they managed to rescue thanks to new technologies, and include it on "Fuego a la Jicotea."

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