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TERRORISM

Spain jails second rapper for glorifying terror

Spain's top criminal court sentenced a rapper to two years in prison Friday for Twitter posts and a song it said glorified terrorism, the latest such decision against an artist that has raised free speech concerns.

Spain jails second rapper for glorifying terror
Rapper Pablo Hasél will serve four years for his tweets and lyrics. Artist photo/Facebook
Such was the uncertainty over whether the tweets of Pablo Rivadulla, better known as Pablo Hasel, were harmful enough to warrant prison that one of the three judges who oversaw his case made known her disagreement with the sentence.
 
In its statement, the National Audience said it had analysed 64 of Hasel's Twitter posts as well as a song's lyrics and found that put together, they not only went against state authorities but alluded “to the necessity to take a step further using violent behaviour, including using terrorism.”
 
The court gave as an example one 2016 tweet in which the rapper attached a photo of a member of the GRAPO, a once violent far-left group.
 
Hasel wrote: “Protests are necessary, but not enough, we support those who went beyond,” the statement read.
 
One judge, however, disagreed with the decision to sentence Hasel to jail. She considered that none of the tweets were “a call for violence,” according to a court document.
 
This is not the first time that Hasel has been condemned for glorifying terrorism. In 2014, the National Audience sentenced him to two years jail for the content of some of his songs. He did not serve time, as first-time offenders of non-violent crimes  with a sentence of no more than two years don't usually spend time behind bars in Spain.
 
But this time round, if the Supreme Court confirms Friday's sentence, he will be sent to prison for four years to serve both sentences.
 
The news comes just over a week after the Supreme Court upheld a three-and-a-half-year jail sentence for another rapper, Valtonyc, for lyrics they said glorified terrorism and insulted the crown
 
The sentences have raised concern over free speech in Spain, but terror victim groups argue they do not want to see violence trivialised.

MUSIC

Meet the Spanish rapper bringing flamenco and bossa nova into hip-hop

Spanish rapper C. Tangana was taking a big risk when he started mixing old-fashioned influences like flamenco and bossa nova into his hip-hop -- but it's this eclectic sound that has turned him into a phenomenon on both sides of the Atlantic.

Meet the Spanish rapper bringing flamenco and bossa nova into hip-hop
Spanish rapper Anton Alvarez known as 'C. Tangana' poses in Madrid on April 29, 2021. Photo: Javier Soriano/AFP

The 30-year-old has emerged as one of the world’s biggest Spanish-language stars since his third album “El Madrileno” — the Madrilenian — came out in February. That ranks him alongside his superstar ex-girlfriend Rosalia, the Grammy-winning Catalan singer with whom he has co-written several hits.

C. Tangana, whose real name is Anton Alvarez Alfaro, has come a long way since a decade ago when he became known as a voice of disillusioned Spanish youth in the wake of the financial crisis.These days his rap is infused with everything from reggaeton and rumba to deeply traditional styles from Spain and Latin America, with a voice often digitised by autotune.

“It’s incredible that just when my music is at its most popular is exactly when I’m doing something a bit more complex, more experimental and less
trendy,” he told AFP in an interview.

And he is unashamed to be appealing to a wider audience than previously: his dream is now to make music “that a young person can enjoy in a club or someone older can enjoy at home while cooking”.

‘People are tired’

The rapper, who sports a severe semi-shaved haircut and a pencil moustache, has worked with Spanish flamenco greats including Nino De Elche, Antonio Carmona, Kiko Veneno, La Hungara and the Gipsy Kings.

In April he brought some of them together for a performance on NPR’s popular “Tiny Desk Concert” series, which has already drawn nearly six million
views on YouTube.

Shifting away from trap, one of rap’s most popular sub-genres, and venturing into a more traditional repertoire was a dangerous move — especially for someone with a young fanbase to whom rumba, bossa nova and bolero sound old-fashioned.

“I think people are tired. They’ve had enough of the predominant aesthetic values that have previously defined pop and urban music,” he said.

Parts of his latest album were recorded in Latin America with Cuban guitarist Eliades Ochoa of Buena Vista Social Club, Uruguayan
singer-songwriter Jorge Drexler, Mexican folk artist Ed Maverick and Brazil’s Toquinho, one of the bossa nova greats.

“What struck me most everywhere I went was the sense of tradition and the way people experienced the most popular music, and I don’t mean pop,” he said.

A new direction

C. Tangana started out in 2006 rapping under the name Crema. When the global economic crisis swept Spain a few years later, hard-hitting trap was
the perfect way to voice the angst of his generation. But after more than a decade of rapping, things changed.

“When I was heading for my 30s, I hit this crisis, I was a bit fed up with what I was doing… and decided to give voice to all these influences that I
never dared express as a rapper,” he said.

The shift began in 2018 with “Un veneno” (“A poison”) which came out a year after his big hit “Mala mujer” (“Bad woman”).

And there was a return to the sounds of his childhood when he used to listen to Spanish folk songs at home, raised by a mother who worked in
education and a journalist father who liked to play the guitar. The Latin American influences came later.

“It started when I was a teenager with reggaeton and with bachata which were played in the first clubs I went to, which were mostly Latin,” he said.

Studying philosophy at the time, he wrote his first raps between stints working in call centres or fast-food restaurants.

As to what comes next, he doesn’t know. But one thing he hopes to do is collaborate with Natalia Lafourcade, a Mexican singer who dabbles in folk, rock and pop — another jack of all musical trades.

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