In the summer of 2014, Nicole Russo and I started planning a show at her gallery, Chapter NY, together. The gallery is a single room. It has a recessed doorway that is also a window, and an air conditioner pierces the glass above the door. The gallery faces south and receives direct sunlight, so the shade in the window is always drawn. A temperamental radiator sits on the floor. Steam from the city’s underground steam… [read more »]
Dominican Republic, 2010
Omega “El Fuerte” is a singer with a musical double life. He has a repertoire of grandpa-style mambo, but also makes a kind of “narco merengue” or Merengue Electronico (the latter is also the name of a song of his), as exemplified in this video. The song is Tu Si Quieres (You Want It), and I’m sure he’s singing some gangsta lyrics cause the video is about someone, mainly him, getting shot and taken to hospital in slow motion. The video is barely interesting, and is posted strictly for audio purposes. The few notables are Omega’s Gucci baker boy hat–a hat that is a close rival to the fedora in the Vile Headgear Olympics–paired with Ed Hardy tee and leather jacket–against the obligatory BMW showroom shots so very dear to the hearts of thugs worldwide.
Merengueros (singers of Merengue, a Dominican genre) may seem comical to outsiders, with their visible lipgloss and wrap-around sunglasses acting all macho. Their posters are all over DIS’s official home, Hooper Street (AKA Hooper Place), so this is personal. We see their faces on a daily basis and know their names, Agaukate, Raulin Rodriguez, Tito Rojas, and so on. But Omega is different, grandpa mambo aside, his voice is unmistakable, deep and cold. And this genre is an obvious, however nascent progression. It’s nastier and harsher than regular merengue, which I personally have a hard time with as a result of the excess use of brass and piano combos. But Omega’s voice has one funny glitch, he occasionally tries to sing falsetto (it happens briefly for a few seconds in the middle of this song) and is endearingly bad. But overall, Omega has a few gems to his name, and this is one of them.
You just have to look hard and embrace the lipgloss.