A. Chal: Blurring lines on his way to the top
I stumbled upon Alejandro Salazar’s (A. Chal) music one night, while searching for something to listen to. I wound up downloading a song called “Vibrations” and, within the first fifteen seconds of the song, I knew that I had found something that I was interested in looking into. The song begins with a hazy falsetto that is accompanied by a repetitive, yet infectious, bop, which leads into a more melodic type of trap record. It’s an awesome way to start a song and it pulls you in immediately. The other thing that struck me about the record was the willingness to tell a seemingly authentic account of his life. He rhymes “All those nights, I felt like I was the closest, took a couple L’s, couple losses, had to stay true to the process…”, and I can believe that this has been an uphill battle for him, because his sound is not one that is readily available anywhere. It’s one of those sounds that you don’t realize that you enjoy, until you do. I've come to understand that when an artists decides that they are not going to simply copy the musical style "du jour", they tend to have a much harder time getting their music to gain much traction. All they can do is continue on their paths and hope that, eventually, we will open our minds to different types of music. My belief is that A. Chal has finally begun to ascend to a place where his unwillingness to do what everyone else is doing is finally paying dividends.
Being born and raised in Peru until the age of 4-years-old, before moving to Queens, New York with his family, his music is an interesting blend of his hispanic heritage alongside the American Hip-Hop & R&B culture. Although there are many latin artists in the music industry, I haven’t yet heard anyone doing what A.Chal does. After downloading “Vibrations”, and listening to his previous releases, “Ballroom Riots” and “Gazi”, months went by without much news on A. Chal, until I saw that he released a video for his contribution to the “Superfly” soundtrack, called “La Duena”. That is when I realized that this guy is a superstar. La Duena is unlike anything that I have heard from A. Chal’s discography. He masterfully darts from english to spanish, while not sounding out of place in either language. This ability is one of his defining traits. Oftentimes, when a foreign artist transitions their music to a different language, they usually do so completely, with very little utterance of their mother tongue (See: Julio Iglesias, Shakira, Ricky Martin, etc...). If they feel the need to release music for their legions of fans, back home, then they will completely switch back. But not A. Chal. It's as though he is speaking to his two cultures, directly. This is the type of "fresh air" that I believe is sorely lacking, nowadays. Music from a truly unique perspective, and "La Duena" certainly delivers. His hypnotic crooning dominates the song, while the visuals are a clear ode to “From Dusk Till Dawn”, starring George Clooney, Quentin Taratino, and Selma Hayek. Puerto Rican rap artist Darrell also features on the song, giving it a bit more grit, in opposition to the sultry, sensual tones of A. Chal.
Capitalizing on the momentum of “La Duena”, The “Exotigaz” EP was released, on December 7th and, right away, gets you moving. This is not simply an opportunity to release music and make some money. This is a calculated attempt to set the world on fire and I believe that A. Chal is on the path to set the industry ablaze. Standouts…? Well, the album is six songs and I like them all. There is a different vibe, to all of the tracks, that can be blended for a unique experience. He has come a long way and, although I am not a “day one listener”, it’s not difficult to envision a day when Alejandro Chal will have his Wimbledon moment. That moment may come much sooner than later. A.Chal’s music already has your ear, you simply may not know it, yet.
Stephan George is a Montreal based writer.
cover photo: By Epic Records - Epic Records, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=67151961