PORTA: Spain’s Tongue Twister

While his lyrics reflect positive stories and the social causes he believes in, the up and comer’s only motive is to speak from the heart. Introducing Spain’s most beloved rapper, Porta.

Words: Marjua Estevez
Images: Courtesy of Porta

Considered amongst the most esteemed lyricists of his region, Spain-bred rapper Cristian “Porta” Bundo is of the limited few ranking emcees of his generation, who have managed to set their career ablaze solely via the Internet. At 23, the Barcelonian has already garnered 4,147,000 fans on Facebook, and released two solid debut EPs No Es Cuestión de Edades [It’s Not an Matter of Age] and No Hay Truco [There’s No Trick], strictly for his web fan base. Soon after Universal Music took notice of his phenomenal talent and massive digital reach, and signed him on the spot, he released two official studio albums, En Boca de Tantos (2008) and the Gold-certified Trastorno Bipolar (2009), that set Porta’s momentum into the stratosphere.

During his recent highly-acclaimed mega tour through Latin America, specifically Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, Porta was steady hustling to finish RESET, his soon-to-be released third album. During our first-ever one on one, he assures the project will top all of his previous material. Though we were able to communicate lightly in our varying forms of Spanish (I’m from D.R., and he’s from Spain), we effortlessly channeled our common love of music, as we explored the unmatched artistry responsible for his burgeoning success.

Where did your name come from?

Porta came from El Portador, which in Spanish literally means “porter, bearer or carrier”. When I began my journey in this culture at nine yrs old, I learned no artist used his real name. I liked El Portado and as time passed the name stuck. But my friends started complaining that El Portado was too long and at times, too ugly [Laughs]. So we shortened it to Porta.

Spain is world-renowned for its array of musical and artistic culture. Why Hip-Hop?

Overall, it was the genre that allowed me to express myself and it was the genre that allowed me to say all the things I needed to say, precisely the way that I was thinking them. And moreover, I’ve been listening to Rap since I was a boy and I’ve always loved the messages that Rap songs carried with them. I chose Rap because there are things I believe you can say that aren’t as transmittable with other musical genres.

You say you were young. Did your parents buy you these Rap albums or were they something you came across yourself?

No, not at all. It was by casualty that I found a cassette tape in the schoolyard. I was a very curious kid. I took the tape, went home and started listening to a bunch of songs by various artists. I practically had no idea what I was listening to, but I loved what the songs were saying. Naturally I kept digging and searching for more music like that, and soon enough, I learned that they were rapping and this was Hip-Hop. From there, I started investing my time into rapping. I bought headphones, a recorder and began recording my own songs.

Who influenced you?

Many artists of this generation, but in particular Eminem. I first listened to one of his mixtapes titled Infinite, I think; It’s very old. He’s overall the most influential artist in my book. I am super fond of his music, his artistry and his lyrical content. He’s the one I most learned from too.

Who would you like to work with in the future?

With Eminem himself. Collaborating with him is one of the very few dreams I have left to accomplish. Meeting Eminem, getting to know him and working on a song with him would most definitely be an accomplished dream all by itself.

What is “Dragon Ball Rap” ?

“Dragon Ball Rap” is a song I recorded a long time ago. It’s based on one of my favorite cartoons and when I recorded it, I released it on the net. That one song accumulated so many fans… It reached over 27 million viewers on YouTube.

Jeans, fitteds or snap-backs, earrings, wristbands, tattoos, hoodies and “wife-beaters”…these are some of the typical assets that make up an American rapper’s wardrobe. Describe the Hip-Hop culture in Spain.

Well, there are various types of people in Spain. But in general, our Hip-Hop style is more or less a copy of the American one. You won’t see a lot of shirts without sleeves [“wife-beaters”] or bracelets and chains, but with me for example, I like to feel comfortable in semi-baggy jeans and bigger-sized shirts. Everyone nowadays appreciates wearing their own style and a lot of times it includes baggier clothes. Back then, it was looked at as odd or weird if you wore clothes that appeared like it didn’t fit you. But today, it’s been converted into a fashion. So sure, our manner of dressing within the Hip-Hop culture is a copy of America’s.

Do you not relate to Spain? How do you feel about your native land? Not just music, everything. Good or bad…

Spain is like every other country. We have pretty places and ugly places. We have open-minded people and closed-minded ones. Good and bad individuals. I don’t believe it’s any more distinct than most other countries. I’ve never really felt too obliged to my country. I think if I was from another country, I’d be the same. I’d feel the same about it. Overall, I identify myself with the zone that I’m from, versus the entire country itself. I identify myself with the people I surround myself with. It’s my family and friends over anything else, really.

Trastorno Bipolar[Bipolar Disorder] seems reminiscent of Eminem’s Slim Shady LP. Should we expect to see an alter ego coming from you soon?

I see it very different from Eminem. It’s true Eminem is always rapping in the style or persona of someone who is mentally-ill or crazy, but what I tried to do with Trastorno Bipolar was separate Porta the rapper from Cristian, who I am in real life. I also tried to explain what I know now and what I have yet to learn.

If you had to compare yourself with another artist who would it be?

I don’t think you can compare me to anything or anyone, honestly. I don’t believe I look like anyone either. I’ve always worked towards finding and emulating my own personal style and to differentiate myself from all the others, no? You see, my aesthetics are different. My writing style is different. Like Rap here is utilized as a form of social criticism, whereas I use it as a tool to express my emotions. I’ve centralized my music around my sentiments more than anything else. I’ve tried to avoid being compared. I’ve avoided sounding or looking like anyone else.

In the lead single to your first label release, “En Boca De Tantos“, you use this line: “La ignorance es la major de tus defectos”. Can you expand on what you mean?

This line simply says that if someone is always walking around with their eyes closed, they are never capable of seeing beyond what’s in front of them or what lies far ahead. With this line I wanted to express that people have to be willing to open up their minds, willing to learn and willing to be taught. Someone who is unwilling to learn or to be open-minded is a huge defect to society… we have to evolve.

El Fin Del Mundo” is about the end of the world. The end of the world is a craze that is buzzing everywhere nowadays. Do you think the world will end in 2012?

I don’t think the world will end this soon, but I do believe the world as we know it will change soon. Some kind of major shift is to take place, I think. Look at us now, look at how governments are trying to shut down the internet. Imagine how that should truly affect us if it happened right now. Everything is changing… and I think we’ll soon see the effects of those changes. The world won’t end, but something will happen.

Do you really have a rosa negra as your song “Mi Rosa Negra” suggests?

Really, I have three black roses; they are three distinctive loves. My mother, my sister and my chica, the girl I love—They’re my three black roses. They are different from everyone else; my support system and the people I love the most in this world.

How did your fans receive this song?

The fans always feel this song. I think it’s because everyone loves someone. Everyone in this world feels love toward someone else. The concept of the black rose has reached a lot of people, a lot of my fans. I’m very lucky because of that. I wrote the song when I was 15 years old and I’m 23 now and it’s still strong.

Your passion is one of the first things I noticed when listening to you. Why such an aggressive approach to rhyming? Is it anger, is it love for the art or do the stories you tell simply need to be told in that way?

I rap the way it comes out. These are my emotions. Let’s say that whatever stories I have to tell have to be told in that manner. People think that only with saying something, we’ve done our job… no. The emotion we carry out our message with is the differentiating factor; it’s what makes the difference when trying to grab someone’s attention. It’s like telling a story, but living through it at the same time. Telling a story without the proper attitude or emotion serves no purpose. So for me, it’s important to relive the story when I rap it, whether it’s a happy one or a sad one. Otherwise, it’s just empty content.

Follow Porta on Twitter, @RealPorta or on Facebook Here

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