Nina Cristante is an artist, autodidactic nutritionist, Aquarius and my best friend. Had it not been for a mutual friend linking us during her temporary stay in NYC seven months back, I may’ve never been introduced to the full spectrum of her work. Just a subtle trail of digital breadcrumbs. Slow-mo-promo. A whisper, a wink, a bikini body meme. A deliberately ambiguous website hosting austere at-home workout videos and fragments of clients’ food diaries.
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.