Album of the Year #23: Cazzu - Una Niña Inutil
Album: Una Niña Inutil
Release Date: 8/28/2020
Julieta Cazzucheli, otherwise known as Cazzu, was born and raised in Argentina. Julieta was no stranger to music prior to her rap career, as she would sing with her father when she was a kid. After pursuing an education in graphic design and cinematography, Julieta returned to her first passion in music. Her first start in music became in Cumbia, where she performed under the stage name Juli K. Her career as a cumbia singer was short lived as she later transitioned into rap. Now donning the name Cazzu, she dropped her first mixtape Maldades in 2017, a pop/trap fusion project that would end up being the foundation for her style. The mixtape spawned her first hit in the song Killa,
Cazzu would make her name known collaborating with other Latin hip hop acts like Khea, Duki, and Negro Fino, and would gain international attention when Bad Bunny hopped (no pun intended) on a remix to a song she was on with Khea. Though she does not have the larger crossover following with U.S. listeners like some of her more famous peers(i.e. Anuel AA, Bad Bunny), Cazzu is still respected in her circle and manages to put up impressive numbers with the help of the Spanish speaking world. In a career that only began to take off 3 years ago, it’s impressive that her work and fame have Spanish-language publications hailing Cazzu as the queen of Latin trap.
One important thing to note about the album is in its title, taken from Argentinian feminist writer Alfonsina Storni’s book, Diario de Una Niña Inutil. During the time of my writing this I was trying to acquire the book to expand on it, but unfortunately the only copies I found were from an Argentinian site that wouldn’t ship to the U.S., though I still found a few scholarly articles about her work. One quote that stuck out to me was a quote from El Hogar, where she states that all women practice feminism in one form or another, and even by challenging feminist ideologies, women are still practicing feminism. The idea behind this train of thought is that women are so often expected to be subordinate and submissive that simply by practicing their right to think, as women they are challenging their expected roles as women in society to be subservient to any idea put forth to them.
In this album we see the teachings of Storni brought forth by Cazzu’s music. The album takes us on a journey of verbal and emotional abuse in relationships, as well as the emotional ups and downs exhibited by the self in their journey through a relationship and self-reflection. In an interview on the making of the album, Cazzu stated that she wanted the music to reflect the teachings of Storni by presenting us with a portrait of an imperfect woman, one who does not represent an ideal woman that conforms to what men want in a woman who is submissive and without faults. In an interview with Billboard where she was asked to describe the album in five words, Cazzu used: Sensual. Honest. Irreverent. Poetic. Loving.
Review: (Note: Since the album is entirely in Spanish I will be paraphrasing some of lyrics as I bring them up. They won’t always be perfect translations though as I’m Mexican and some of the phrasing used in Argentina is different than in Mexico, but I will make sure to get the point of the lyrics across.)
This album breaks new ground for Cazzu, as not only is it her most emotionally driven and personal work to date, but is also a shift to an R&B sound as opposed to the latin trap sound that launched her to the Latin and international charts. Though it is her first time making a pure R&B record, it doesn’t show as the transition is seamless for Cazzu who has already had experience in singing, which was clear in her first two records where she balanced her hardcore rapping with her angelic voice.
The album begins with “Dulce Tortura”(Sweet Torture). The song’s chorus describes burning a room as a metaphor for letting go of and wanting to forget a former partner.
Se prende fuego la habitación
Que voy a olvidar tu nombre
The fire lights up, incinerating memories, so that I can forget your name
It’s interesting that this song is the one to kick of the album as thematically it fits in last, with the other songs laying out the turmoil and struggles of toxic relationships, while this song is the one where Cazzu finally tells her former lover she will forget his name and all the hurt he caused.
The second song, "Romance De La Venganza" (Romance of Revenge), describe wanting to change oneself for the wrong reasons. Someone who is tired of not receiving affection changing just to appease the tastes of someone who otherwise wouldn’t like them, just so that they won’t be alone.
Ser como una zorra de la que sí te vas a enamorar
Y a ver si de esa forma alguien se queda junto a mí
Ay, ya me cansé de llorar
Ay, ya me cansé de esperar
I should change
Be like those sluts, those that you would fall in love with
To see in that way someone will stay with me
I am tired of waiting
I am tired of crying
The second verse expands on this character that Cazzu has created in this song, a girl who is tired of being heartbroken and depending on their unreliable partner, who eventually reflects on the the relationship they had with their partner before they decide to let go and focus on improving themselves, but casts some doubt in their ability to let go as it ends with the line “I no longer look back, but sometimes when I’m alone my inside voice tells me…” before it goes back to the chorus.
The album then takes us to its lead single “Miedo”(Fear) a song about intimacy. As I explained earlier, Cazzu drew a lot of inspirations from the works of Alfonsi Storni of being an imperfect woman and to not adhere to the roles and expectations men have for them. In this case the song seeks to show a woman’s desires for sex, something that women are expected to hide and keep to themselves, but Cazzu presents these desires unapologetically, begging her partner for sex, and describe an intimate night between the two. She is even seen bearing her body in the video and presenting herself to the viewer.
That song is followed by another song that focuses on intimacy, "Canción de La Mujer Astuta"(Song of the Cunning Woman). What sets this song apart from the previous one is that Cazzu presents herself as more submissive sexually in here than on Miedo where she is more dominant. She notes that this is the first time the two are having sex, which explains the change of attitude to someone who is more along for the ride and following their partner’s actions. Although the song is shorter and much simpler in its delivery of its message, this may be my favorite song on the album because of its production and Cazzu’s singing, with the added altered vocal effects of Cazzu the other singers who are uncredited.
In Conversacion, Cazzu presents this track in the form of a conversation between two ex-partners, one in which she plays the villain and plays them well, making the listener hate their ego and possessiveness. Cazzu begins as the voice of the manipulative and verbally abusing partner, begging their girlfriend to take them back. She continues to attack her partner in the hook, telling them things like “I want you to still love,” “Think back at all I have, all I have to give you,” and “You can reject me, and tell me no, but you will always end up back with me.” Through these words Cazzu does a terrific job of portaying the abusive partner, one that refuses to take no for an answer and putting down their ex and making them believe they will never do better, words that are regularly exhibited by an ex who has lost control and wants to continue to manipulate their partner.
I want to highlight the last line in the chorus as I feel like it says a lot with so little and is important in the second verse, and rest of the song:
Sabes que no existe quien te lo haga como
Lo haga como yo
Which translates to
You know no one exists that does it like I can
This is an important turning point as Cazzu’s character has lost their partner and knows it, and the only argument they can muster in wanting their ex to take them back is not a promise of changing themselves or treating them better, but that they can pleasure them better than anyone else can. The second verse dives even further and is a bit of a hard listen, and Cazzu continues to talk to her ex in a sexual manner, complimenting their abilities, and saying things like ”I can tell you’re wet right now”
The featured artist Chita plays the voice of the partner who had just been accosted by their ex. Her character does not fall for the manipulation, and comes out strong in their rejection of all the words by their ex, and tells them “My heart still remembers all your lies and your shit” and rejects and asks them to no longer beg them for anything and asks for forgiveness. Her final words interpolate the hook from Cazzu and calls back to what they said in Chita’s final line:
Por siempre vas a extrañar mi cuerpo
Cuando no encuentres quien te lo haga como
Lo haga como yo
You will always miss my body
When you find that there’s no one else that does it like I can
On Capricho (Whim), Cazzu is lamenting about an ex who did them wrong. Although she is initially talking about how much they miss kissing them and asking where she went wrong, Cazzu strikes back and expresses her desire to move on to forget the hurt she was caused, and does so by being with another man.
Voy a hacerle el amor (2x)
Hasta olvidar tu nombre (2x)
I will make love to him (2x)
To forget your name (2x)
The album wraps up with Queja (Gripe), another song where the featured artist is used as a means to convey the story of a strained relationship. Here we are presented with themes of jealousy and squabbles with an unreliable partner. While Cazzu plays the jealous girlfriend, one who is always inquiring about their partner’s whereabouts, and citing their jealousy when other women loo at him, Choclock plays the partner, who has flaws on his own. He apologizes for disappearing in the night and not coming back in the morning, presumably to cheat. Though they each put forth their own flaws and paint a picture of a doomed relationship, they both express desires for wanting to remain with each other and asking the other for forgiveness.
Cazzu broke new ground as artist in creating this album, not just in her seemingly effortless transition to R&B, but in creating something personal. As an album that speaks to the emotional struggles and desires of a woman, I’m sure that there are women, and even some men, who can be touched and relate to the vulnerability exhibited in this album, one that allows the listeners to reflect on their emotions, habits, and mistakes as they navigate their love life.
No sé si eres tú o fue la bebida
Pero sé que no, no estoy confundida
Y el humo se escapa por la ventana
Y es inflamable tu cuerpo en mi cama
Háblame malo, sí, maleduca’o
Va a salir el Sol y seguimo’ enreda’o
Lo’ cuerpo’ suda’o del calor (del calor)
Humo intenso y baila entre tú y yo
Dámelo to’, dámelo to’
Compórtatе, que con niñito’ yo no jodo
Baby, mi mano te suelta
Yo ya le di tanta vuelta
No vas a hacer que me pierda
Cuando te acercas
Toda mi alma se acuerda
Tus mentiras y tu mierda
No quise hacerte una escena pero
Yo casi siempre me desespero
Si alguien te mira y
Quién no suspira por esa carita que tienes?
Do you prefer Cazzu’s R&B style on this album or her more traditional latin trap sound she is more known for?
For non-Spanish speakers, does the language barrier make you more reluctant to listen to this and other projects that are not in English? Did an in-depth look and translations help in digesting the album?
Favorite non-US album of 2020?
What mainstream US artists would you imagine pair well with Cazzu if she were to have a crossover hit?
from /r/HipHopHeads on Reddit https://www.reddit.com/r/hiphopheads/comments/kwdyed/album_of_the_year_23_cazzu_una_niña_inutil/