While bright colors and a huge image of the crown she has tattooed on her right arm flashed in the background, 33-year-old Spaniard Mala ‘the bad one’ Rodríguez stepped on stage at downtown venue Grand Central Saturday night wearing a yellow flower in her hair, fishnets, and a black corset with straps, making it hard for us to concentrate on the music.
Touring behind her 2012 LP, Virginia, Rodríguez — aka La Mala, La Mala María, and Maria Rodríguez (her birth name) — was singing “La Niña” (“The Girl”), the first single off of her second album, Alevosía (Treachery). The song describes a drug-dealing young girl and was banned from Spanish television after the release of its video due to its supposedly explicit content. Here’s an excerpt of the lyric: “Por ser mujer, llevaba pistola/ Ya sabes, pa’ no sentirse sola/ A nadie le gusta que le jodan/ Siempre tú tienes que pensar dos veces/ Quién se come la mierda cuando aparece…” (“She carried a gun because she was a girl/ You know, so she wouldn’t feel alone/ Nobody likes being fucked over/ You always have to think twice/ Who eats all the shit when it appears…”
Rodríguez fell in love with hip hop back in 1993 after hearing a demo in the souther Spanish city of Seville, where she grew up. Adding notes of jazz and flamenco to edgy lyrics that usually deal with politics and female empowerment, she is the first woman to be respected in the Spanish rap world. She has five critically acclaimed albums and has collaborated with amazing artists, such as Calle 13, Nelly Furtado, and Julieta venegas, and her music has been featured in various films, including Lucía y el Sexo (Sex and Lucía) and the famous Y tu Mamá También (And Your Mum Too).
Right after “La Niña” came “No Pidas Perdón” (“Don’t Ask For Forgiveness”), for which Rodríguez won a Latin Grammy for Best Urban Song. The tracks is on La Mala’s 2010 album, Dirty Bailarina, which was produced by Focus, an American rapper who has also worked with Eminem, Christina Aguilera, and Jennifer Lopez.
Part of Rodríguez’s undeniable talent is her ability to command a show and engage a crowd. In the middle of the concert, she dedicated a song to all women and invited us to dance with her on the stage. It was crazy and hot, just like she is. Despite the poor audio, she managed to sing 18 songs and make approximately 200 people feel in love.
Here are more photos from the show.