When: Sat., Dec. 31, 8 p.m. 2016
An impressive stream of Spanish-language rappers has made it easier to forget the impact Spain’s Mala Rodriguez had on the international hip-hop scene when she first emerged in the late 90s. She quickly achieved stardom in her homeland with her fat-free records and stealthy, no-frills flow, and ultimately established herself as one of hip-hop’s most exciting personalities. Her output has slowed in recent years, and on her most recent record, 2013’s Bruja (Machete Music)—which landed her a Latin Grammy for Best Urban Music Album—she tempered her austere aggression with some more pop-inflected tracks, revealing the Technicolor influence of Calle 13. Rodriguez’s clenched drawl mostly sticks to stuttery, highly rhythmic bobbing and weaving over hard breaks, but on a song like “Dorothy” she pushes an introspective pop vibe, tenderly singing a sweet-toned hook before dropping rhymes with almost stoic toughness. She’s no longer breaking ground so much as adapting to trends, but Rodriguez remains instantly recognizable.