Wednesday, December 20, 2006

UBO's downfall and Tempo's album

It looked like a new day for Tempo — the Ponce, PR-born artist who is currently incarcerated for allegedly running a large-scale drug ring. Since the so-called reggaet├│n "boom," many of his peers took the stage to defend Tempo and lobby for a new appeal to his murky case. According to many close to the artist, the entire federal case brought against Tempo was built on hearsay and assumptions that were later repackaged in order to fit within the boundaries of the way-too-far-reaching conspiracy laws.


To that end, activists and artists alike had started momentum on a Free Tempo campaign and had already secured involvement from Russell Simmons, Sharpton, and other high-profile politicos. UBO (Urban Box Office), the label that released Boy Wonder's Chosen Few 1 and 2, was spearheading the movement, which they intended to launch in tandem with a new Tempo album featuring both old and new cuts.



I had the privilege of listening to the album and was absolutely floored. First, producer Ecko managed to reach out to other producers and arrangers and secure a collaborative track with the London Symphony Orchestra. The track is absolutely amazing — cinematic and theatrical with mournful violins, flutes, cellos, and drums providing the backdrop for Tempo's diary-like lyrics. The album is full of stars — Wisin Y Yandel, Daddy Yankee, Tego Calderon, Zion, Hector El Father, Yomo, and more. But Tempo's talent and his unabashedness, how he speaks of his incarceration, police corruption, and opportunities lost with such emotion (ranging from anger to nostalgia to optimism), is what truly stands out.



Sadly, now that UBO has closed its dorrs, Tempo's project is in a state of limbo, which is really disheartening the hard work everyone involved put in. New tracks for example, were largely constructed by taking recorded freestyles taped during occasional prison visits and alterring the BPMs in accordance to the accompanying beat. Many artists performed pro bono or charged significantly reduced rates — all in order to make their boy proud. The community put ego aside and came together on this one and now, it's fate is undecided...