Javier Ibarra (Zaragoza, 1980) speaks in Kase.O's past: "It was a lupine that he was very sure of himself, like a great rapper who did not have failures. " At 38, considered by many as the best MC (abbreviation of master of ceremonies, which is what the singers are called in rap) of hip hop in Spanish, has managed to humanize and make more real his artistic alter ego thanks to his disc The circle (Rap Solo, 2016). With this first solo album of new songs, after 11 years of success with Violators of the Verso and his foray into jazz with the record Jazz Magnetism (2011), Ibarra wanted to get away from that hard guy he created when he was 13 years old to record his first demo in cassette format Puzzle (1993) and who has been feeding his ego to compete for being number one. "My name is Javier, I am an inimitable myth / my superiority in a micro is not unquestionable", he sang in 2001 in Vices and Virtues. "I'm the king of rap, I do not listen to your LP or your model without faith," reads a more current verse of the song Manual works, from 2011.
"The big challenge was to match Kase.O with Javier Ibarra, and I think I've achieved it. There are no longer two characters, I can smile on stage "
His lyrics, raw and deep, with messages of philosophical, spiritual and rebellious, and his vocal and versatile talent, capable of rhyming on a wide variety of disparate rhythms and at different speeds, are some of the arguments on which critics and fans base to consider everything a reference. Songs like Ballantines, Pure uncut drug or Singing, they are true anthems of the country rap and they are even heard from time to time in discos. "The big challenge was to match Kase.O with Javier Ibarra, and I think I've achieved it. There are no longer two characters, I can smile on stage, "says Ibarra, sitting in the Jerónimos Cloister of the Prado Museum, an imposing place where he attends EL PAÍS on the occasion of the end of the tour of the album that concludes in Spain with two concerts: this Friday, December 21 at the Wizink Center in Madrid and the 29 at the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona. "On the album, Javier has left those insecurities and confessed his traumas. It has been purged. And I am more happy with that reflection of myself because I have expressed my essence, trying to take art to the maximum degree, "he says.
The circle contains 17 songs with instrumentals in which the Zaragoza artist surprises and innovates with a greater use of instruments such as pianos or violins, and which are produced by Ibarra himself and others, by DJ's like R de Rumba, architect of the sound of Violadores del Verso and his companion on the plates during the tour. In his lyrics, the rapper from the neighborhood of La Jota dares to love themes like Maces and Catapults, where he makes an outing with flamenco rhythms, or Love without clauses. And other more sensual as Half and half, in which he describes a sex scene. In Handsome afternoon she strips naked to make public her youth traumas and her beginnings in rap ("Scenic fear, vomiting in concerts / Making my raw physical feeling / Failed in love, just love the rum / The solution will be to lower the bar").
"I thought that rhyme would rain for me, that when I got into nature, the plants themselves would write me the letters. And it was not so"
He also is sincere and cries in Basureta, a subject in which he describes a depression he suffered while living in a hacienda located in the middle of nature in El Retiro (Antioquia, Colombia), a municipality less than an hour's drive from Medellín, where he went to live in 2013 along with his partner, Muna, to conceive the disc and change of airs. They returned to Spain to finish and release the album, and since 2016 – already recovered – they live in the Valdefierro neighborhood (Zaragoza), along with their daughter Aliyah, of 14 months. "It was a bunch of situations that I could not manage. I started from scratch in another country and it is not as easy as I thought, I missed my family a lot and, above all, a lot of pressure. I had very negative thoughts like 'no molas' anymore, 'your rap is obsolete and you do not have anything new to say', 'the old formulas do not work for you and you do nothing but stuff rhythms by making empty songs'. All bad brother, and so on for months, "recalls Ibarra with his accented accent. "I thought that rhyme would rain for me, that when I got into nature, the plants themselves would write me the letters. And it was not so. The plants gave me peace, but they did not inspire me, "he stresses.
The MC has no hairs on the tongue when affirming that he managed to get out of that situation, in part, thanks to prayer. "I prayed a lot, I read books of angels and I put myself in the hands of God because I did not have the strength. And, well, healthy prayer gives you peace and gave me answers. " He was also helped by a diary that he filled during that gray stage with everything that was going through his head. And from there came verses that are part of The circle. "When you're fucked up you can find a lot of inspiration, and because you have the ability to write down those thoughts about yourself, you can draw deep and healing verses," the rapper acknowledges. But does it make up for suffering so much to create good songs? "I would not mind not rallying so much because when the level of self-criticism is high, palms. You have a bad time When I hear some artists saying that they have had a great time recording an album, I already tell you that this record is bullshit (laughs). And I tell you without hearing it. Uncle, I've spent three years writing like a monk, "he says. "Sometimes, it would be better to make bad songs and be happy … But hey, you have to find the balance," he adds hesitantly.
With about 34,000 copies sold and more than 20 million views on Youtube The circle, and after 90 concerts in Spain, England, Colombia, Chile or Mexico, among other countries, the new Kase.O continues to attract legions of fans: the usual and the new. "A lot of people tell me: 'I do not listen to rap, but your album has enchanted me'. When I started, I dreamed that not only rappers would listen to me because there have always been many prejudices with hip hop. I'm happy, now the public judges me for being myself and not for my twenty years ago, "he concludes.
We quote Javier Ibarra at the Museo del Prado to talk about the end of his tour and his album, The circle, but also about art. The atmosphere is calm, you can tell it's a Wednesday in November. The rapper arrives with his inseparable manager, Marcos, and Pablo, who is taking the agenda with the media in Madrid. It shows that he is tired, they have 26 interviews in three days. In the vastness and silence of the Claustro de los Jerónimos, the Zaragoza one relaxes and takes a breath before answering the questions. Precisely, one of our first questions is about Distributing Art, one of the most enigmatic themes of the album and that, according to comments, was inspired, in part, in readings like From the spiritual in art, by Vasili Kandinsky, his favorite artist. "Distributing Art, because that is my quality / I take you from the everyday to another reality / To the state of the uncertain form / Territory in which I live when everyone sleeps", sings in the refrain. "It is an exercise in which I try to describe the region from which ideas emerge, art, with very abstract verses," explains Ibarra.
Although he admits that when he is in Madrid he usually escapes more often to the Reina Sofía Museum because he likes contemporary art more, admires the section of Goya, his distant countryman from Fuendetodos (Zaragoza). "Goya the God. His paintings are very strong and carries an implicit criticism ", he emphasizes. Bosco's paintings also "flip him." His favorite? The garden of delights (1490-1500). "Although it was painted many years ago it is a very modern work, it seems from the last century. El Bosco was a dreaming genius, "he says as we wait in the room where the painting is exposed to make one of the photographs for the interview. Minutes before, he has met by chance with Suso 33, one of the most well-known urban artists, and who was also visiting the museum. Two of the pioneers of hip hop in Spain catching up surrounded by centenary works of art. The morning concludes with a photo of the Saragossa rapper with the statue of Goya in the background. "It's an honor that you brought me here to do the interview, co," the artist said goodbye.