“Sexo” by Residente and Dillon Francis is what the world needs right now

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I can’t stop smiling. I’m trying, I swear, but I just can’t. “Sexo,” the new single by Puerto Rican rap genius René “Residente” Pérez in collaboration with American DJ and producer Dillon Francis, is hilarious. It’s also assertive and wise and big-hearted and deliciously complex. And then I read that some are already decrying it as “too explicit” and predicting that it will be “the most polemic and controversial” of Residente’s career and I smile even wider.

Why, exactly, is a song about sex supposed to be controversial in a world in which “Despacito” – which features lyrics like “show my mouth your favorite places” and “provoke your screams till you forget your last name” – sells billions of copies is not clear to me. A quick scan through this week’s Latin hit parade finds some of the biggest names in the music world going on and on about getting it on, always with accompanying music videos that leave little to the imagination.

People, I suspect, will have a problem with “Sexo” not because it’s too naughty or too vulgar (it really isn’t), but because it observes instead of ogling, considers instead of accepting blindly, challenges instead of following the pack.

The song, says Resident at the top, is dedicated to Sigmund Freud, father of psychoanalysis and of a million jokes about smoking cigars, and to Judith Butler, feminist thinker and obligatory name call to demonstrate one’s intellectual bona fides. It posits a simple thesis: all human action is driven by the desire to have sex, which is great, since sex is awesome when done with openness and gentleness and love.

You get out of bed, it turns out, because you want sex. You talk to people, go to work, read books, go to church, because you want sex: “We never talk about it/ we think about it every day/ it itches down to the bone/ nobody says it but everyone wants sex.” Like George Michael’s “I Want Your Sex” and Salt N’ Pepa’s “Let’s Talk about Sex,” “Sexo” gets its fun from stretching the core concern of pop music to its ridiculous extreme. And like its predecessors, it wins you over with an earworm of a refrain that cave people will still be humming long after the collapse of global civilization.

“Blam, blam

what a bam bam

tu pun pun

wiki wiki

ra-ta-ta-ta”

True to form, Residente doesn’t content himself with delivering a hit. He wants to say something. He wants his art to matter. His brilliance is in doing it while still being entertaining, and hilarious.

The colorful music video offers a raunchy, joyous, welcoming, openhearted vision of sex. In this world men wear dresses with no shame and couples are multi-racial, single-sex, and everything in between. The young and the old, the dark and the light, the tattooed and the square, everyone wants sex. The video’s makers, of course, know what the audience expects to see (bouncing buttocks, dancing models) and it delivers, but always with a rejoinder.

The curly blond wig of a writhing dancer becomes the hair of a mature woman slathered in garish makeup. A slender girl in bra and panties exits a car, then a gorgeous young man, then a mob of people of all shapes and sizes. For every shot of conventional beauty there’s a pale-as-snow beer belly, a crazy mop of hair, an old man popping Viagra. Residente shows himself in bed with two women, one a little person, and there’s not the barest hint of mockery or patronizing explanation. Little people want sex too. Enough said.

Plenty of moralists in Latin America will no doubt rail against the mention of orgies and the digs at Adam and Eve. This is a part of the world in which large numbers of people find it worthwhile to wage a war against the “gender ideology” that means to impose such horrors as gay marriage and protection from bigotry for trans- and gender-non-conforming people. I can’t smile when I think of these moralists’ hypocrisy and stupidity, except when I imagine them succumbing impotently to the “pun pun wiki wiki” of this incredible song.

 

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