René Pérez and Rubén Blades at the Latin Grammy ceremony in Las Vegas, Nevada.Ethan Miller (Getty Images)
When you admire someone a lot you try to emulate that person. In my case, I started looking for every detail that I had in common with Rubén. Like for example, our two names begin with the letter “R”, Rubén, René. Which actually seems like a great name for a pop artist, Rubén René. Record labels are eating shit. Besides that we are both water signs, Rubén is Cancer and I am Pisces. Loving, creative and all the bullshit that the zodiac says. Neither of us have to spend on shampoo because we both go bald. Another thing we have in common is that our mothers, both Anoland and my mother Flor, both sing beautifully, they are super talented artists. We both grew up in art-driven homes. And as if that weren’t enough, another thing we have in common is that we both grew up on 13th Street. Rubén on 13th Street in the old town of Panama and I on 13th Street in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico. And living on Calle 13 together with my brothers we grew up with Rubén’s music.
I say this with admiration and respect to all the great artists here tonight. Rubén, nobody in music has your literary work.
Marvel and DC Comics have to ask for your blessing.
Because neither Metropolis nor Gotham City will be bigger than that world you created, Hispania. Because your stories are about people who exist, real people, without magical superpowers. People who bleed to death if shot. Because you taught me that art goes above all things even though the story of Superman sells more than that of Ramiro. Thanks to you with my attention deficit I never felt alone because you left me a universe full of characters that became my family.
The death of Adán García hurt me and I am one of those who believe that Sebastián was not crazy because I also had imaginary girlfriends. And you touched my soul with your Soul beads because my mom still sleeps in front of the television when she’s lonely.
Among the many talks we have once had, you wondered if it had been worth it to have told all these stories because in the end people forgot. You told me that when one dies the work dies with one. And well I tell you that at least when I die I want everyone to be there waiting for me:
Pedro Navaja, Josefina Wilson, Pablo Pueblo, Ligia Elena, Adán García, Juana Mayo.
Carmelo Da Silva, Manuela Pérez, Ramiro, Juan González, Camilo Manríque, Sebastián, Paula C, Juan Pachanga, Maria Lionza, Madame Kalalú, Laura Farina, Isabel, Cipriano Armenteros, Medoro Madera, Father Antonio and the altar boy Andrés.
I’ve been growing up with your work for a lifetime. I was born in 78 when he was born Sowing And I became a harvest, a fruit, that’s why even though we are here in Las Vegas surrounded by cancerous buildings in a plastic city, I can identify each one of the Pablo Pueblo who work here full time for a minimum wage. That is why your work never dies master.
You raised me with your music, you educated me with your lyrics.
You opened the doors of your house to lend me a room when I still didn’t have a house. You advised me in the most difficult moments of my career. In those moments when everyone is hiding, there you were. You gave me the most I needed, a guide, a direction. You are my mentor, my teacher, my friend. You are like a father to me.
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