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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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FEATURE

How can I change my Covid vaccine appointment in different regions in Spain?

What happens if you can’t make it to your Covid-19 vaccination appointment and need to change it to another day? Here's what you need to know about the process for the different regions across Spain.

How can I change my Covid vaccine appointment in different regions in Spain?
Health workers vaccinate people against Covid-19 at the Donostia Arena former bullring in San Sebastian. Photo: ANDER GILLENEA / AFP

In most regions, when you first register for your vaccine, you are able to confirm or reject the vaccine appointment you are given, depending on your availability. In other regions, there are online links you can follow or telephone numbers to call in order to change your appointment.

If you can’t attend for whatever reason, it’s important that you let your local health authorities know, so that the vaccine dose is not wasted and can go to someone else.

Madrid

When registering for your appointment, you will receive an SMS with the day and time of your appointment. At that time, you can confirm your attendance or not. If you cannot make this appointment and do not confirm, you will receive a call from the number 915 026 058 to offer you a new one.

Valencia

If you can’t attend your vaccine time you must call your local health centre to tell them. They will then cancel your appointment and give it to the next person on the list. When all the people in your age group who kept their original appointments have been vaccinated, your health centre will call you again to arrange a new appointment.

Andalusia

In order to change your appointment, you must call the telephone number 955 545 060, when your age group is called up. Please find more information below or click on the link here

Andalusia vaccine infographic. Credit: https://www.andavac.es/

Catalonia

In Catalonia, simply click on the following link and click the button that says ‘demana o modificar cita‘ to register for your vaccine or change it. 

Balearic Islands

As soon as you have registered for your vaccination appointment, you will receive an e-mail from BITCITA with your individual link to cancel or change your appointment. You can also do this via the QR code that you will have received. For more information about the vaccination process click here

Canary Islands

If you need to change your appointment for any reason you can call 012 to do so when your group has been called up.

Murcia

From June 4th, Murcia opened up vaccine appointments for those aged 40 to 59 in 20 of its municipalities. You can register via the ‘MurciaSalud‘ portal or your Cita Previa SMS. The system will give you the first appointment available, but if you can’t attend this you can click ‘cambiar cita’ in order to be able to choose a different day and time.

Galicia

Those in Galicia who have any questions about their appointments should call the numbers associated with the health authorities in their province. You can find a list here of all the telephone numbers and e-mail addresses for each province.

Basque Country

The Basque Country health authorities Osakidetza will send you an SMS when vaccination for your age group is open. They will send you a link where you can register either online or via a mobile app. Once you have registered your details, you will be given a choice of different days and times. Simply select the one you can attend. If at a later date, you can’t make this day, you need to call your local health centre to let them know. More information can be found here.

Castilla-La Mancha 

You will receive a call or a text message to register for your appointment. At the time you can say if you’re able to make the date they give you or not. If you need to change at a later date, the health authorities in Castilla-La Mancha haven’t detailed exactly what you should do however, the number for getting more information about your Covid vaccine is 925 248 367. For more information on the vaccination process in Castilla-La Mancha click here

Castilla y León

On the official health website for Castilla y León, they simply say that if you cannot attend your appointment then do not call them and that you will be contacted by them. More information about vaccination in Castilla y León can be found here.

Navarra

You will receive a call or a text message when it’s your turn to be vaccinated and can accept the vaccination date and time. You can also let them know if you’re unable to attend this date and they will tell you what to do. If you discover at a later date that you’re unable to attend, you can e-mail [email protected] or [email protected] for any questions you have. 

Extremadura 

If you have a justified reason for not attending your appointment and you let your local health centre know, they will call you a second time around to rearrange the time. 

Details on how to change your appointment in Asturias, Cantabria, La Rioja and Aragon haven’t yet been made available, but we will update you when they are. 

READ ALSO: Region by region: How to get a Covid-19 vaccination certificate in Spain

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