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“El Factor Equis”: Kombo The X Writer Perfectly Mixes Determination and Introspection

Hip-hop has recently become the most listened  music genre in the United States. In Puerto Rico, slowly but surely, the culture and all its facets are becoming more mainstream. Among the sea of rappers who have found success, most are found in the sub-genres of trap and reggaetón, also known as reguetón, like the young Bad Bunny and the veteran Daddy Yankee, whose recent work have given them a new life in the mainland. However, the field of boom-bap rap has been one that has relatively stayed in the underground. Yet, artists like Negro González “El Artesano de la Impro, Fico Rodz, Mike Rodz, El S, and Recluso are among the many who continue to work in this area to try and give it the recognition it deserves. In the last few years, another musician to join this part of Puerto Rico’s rap scene has been San Germán’s Kombo the X Writer, a lyricist whose latest mixtape, El Factor Equis, demonstrates his ability to mix aggressive lyrical raps that demonstrate his hunger to be better alongside introspective emotional verses.

(art for the mixtape by Luis Borges Rose as found on Kombo’s Facebook page)

 

Right off the bat, with the track “Intro”, Kombo shows his lyrical techniques as he raps to a beat which switches halfway, giving him the opportunity to demonstrate his ability to change flows within the song. Meanwhile, in the slower-paced “Leyenda”, Kombo raps about how one must create their own path if they wish to be successful in life and how one must always remember their roots in this journey because one can get lost. Other themes explored in the project are passion and trust, as done in the track “Mala Mía”, where Kombo, in a way, apologizes to those he has hurt in some form due to his ambition. Along the same lines of emotion-driven raps there is also “¿Quién Me Dice?”, a song where Kombo explores the topic of romance. Moreover, the beats for this project demonstrate great chemistry between rapper and producer.

(picture of Kombo in the studio by Arliana M. Cruz Ortiz as found on his Facebook page)

 

Sound-wise, El Factor Equis is completely produced by Huztle, with some guest appearances by Wiso Rivera. While most of the production in the mixtape is rooted in boom-bap rap, none of the beats sound alike. Each piece of production goes hand-in-hand with the themes explored by Kombo and his approach towards them. There are even tracks like “M.I.A.” which are strict throwbacks to 1990s boom-bap, that work as a fantastic homage to the sound that inspired the project. However, with pros there are cons, although they are minor.

(picture of Kombo performing as found on his Facebook page)

 

El Factor Equis is a near perfect project. However, there are a few additions that could have made it better. Kombo’s latest mixtape is a seven-song experiment that only lasts twenty-three minutes. While having a strict and concise project isn’t a problem, I feel like El Factor Equis could’ve probably benefited from having two or three more tracks. Perhaps, these few additions could have featured Kombo exploring more themes like the current state of Puerto Rico or the relationship between hip-hop and sports in order to make a reference to the mixtape’s cover art. Nevertheless, these are just a few themes that Kombo might address in the future.

(picture of Kombo performing as found on his Facebook page)

 

Kombo The X Writer’s latest mixtape is a great demonstration of the rapper’s ability to make a concise project that delivers passionate and aggressive lyrical raps while also showing the artist’s emotional side. El Factor Equis is also another great addition to the boom-bap rap tradition that has existed in the Puerto Rican independent music scene for years. With this endeavor, Kombo shows how he is a rapper to keep an eye on.

 

Listen to El Factor Equis on Spotify

 

Fernando E. E. Correa González is the author behind over 20 self-published poetry books. He has been published by literary magazines & journals [Id]entidad, El Vicio del Tintero, Sábanas Magazine, Smaeralit and Tonguas. Other than writing, Correa is also a filmmaker, podcaster, photographer and master’s student. He currently lives in his native Puerto Rico.
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