Ever since MalaCara and Ibn Itaka first got in the studio to record, they’ve been making magic. Now, the two have teamed up to create something different. “Toque De Queda En Macondo,” meaning “Curfew in Macondo,” is a visual scored by a collage of songs from an album of the same name by MalaCara and Itaka. With elements of short film, music video and documentary, the film defies genre. As Itaka, who also produced and wrote the film in addition to scoring, says, “‘Toque De Queda En Macondo’ shows the reality of many Puerto Ricans life's during the quarantine, that quality that makes us persevere and make good out of bad situations.”
Directed by Limbel City, the film is shot in Puerto Rico by a Puerto Rican team, and chronicles the day of MalaCara and his partner, Pajaro, who sings on the project as well. While the plot seems ordinary, what Itaka and his team have accomplished is a sensual articulation of a very specific moment in our time, one where Covid threatens our safety, the government cannot be trusted, and, as the title suggests, curfews are imposed.
The film starts with MalaCara alone in his room, a landscape that many are increasingly familiar with. Over Itaka’s beat, with sound engineering from Stephan Coll, MalaCara expresses his frustrations living a stifled life. “But in this spiral there is no chance or space for luxuries we cannot afford,” he raps in Spanish between puffs of a joint.
The words reflect the conditions that birthed this project as well. When the studio that Itaka and MalaCara usually record in closed due to Covid, the team pushed through and recorded verses through WhatsApp. In fact, a lot of this project wasn’t planned or scripted but unfolded organically, which no doubt contributed to the documentary-like tone that it has.
The final product, just like the process that created it, is about, “the bigger picture and always maintaining a good attitude,” as Itaka says. While touching on big picture ideas like indoctrination and spirituality, the film also captures the specificities of life in quarantine, and in doing so, validates the reality of our strange existence. We watch MalaCara dawning rubber gloves and a mask, Pajaro handing him disinfectant in her doorway to wash his groceries, and even MalaCara scrubbing the bottom of his shoes. Put into art, these odd new practices of ours seem less insidious, more easily digestible. In that way, the film acts as a unifying agent, a tonic to cure the feeling of dissociation many experience in post-pandemic life.
“Music is the universal language and it lets you communicate life and feeling. You can use it to lay out a reality that narrates something the world can identify with.” says Itaka. One thing we all hope to identify with is the final lines sung by Pajaro as she and MalaCara embrace. “I heal, you heal, we heal together,” she sings in Spanish. Luckily, “Toque De Queda En Macondo” is not just an affirmation of that hope, but an active participant in it’s future. Check it out below.