Best known for anthemic salsa songs like “Pedro Navaja” and “Plastico,” the prolific Panamanian singer, songwriter and bandleader Rubén Blades tries on a new hat as a protest rocker in “No Te Calles,” his new song with Kansas City psych-rock band Making Movies. “It is like nothing Rubén has ever done before,” bassist-vocalist Diego Chi told Rolling Stone over email. A rollicking ode to the right to resist, “No Te Calles” — “Don’t Be Silenced” — is the lead single off the supergroup’s upcoming mixtape due in May, which features guests such as Los Lobos, Flor de Toloache and Las Cafeteras.
Shot in a scrappy, graffiti-flecked practice space in New York City, the video sees Blades at the helm of the newborn combat rock band, donning his iconic black fedora and jamming on guitar. His voice sails sky-high above Making Movies’ eclectic blend of rumbero percussions, delicate organs and grungy fuzz rock. Together they carry the mighty chorus: “Sal a la calle/Y no te calles,” or, “Go out in the street and don’t be silenced.”
The collaboration came about after a chance encounter on the red carpet at the Latin Grammy Awards in 2017. “[Rubén] asked for the lyrics [from] our album, I Am Another You,” said Enrique Chi, singer-guitarist of Making Movies. “We had made a record about the interconnectivity of the human race through the lens of our cousins’ experiences. I sent him these ideas and he came back with ‘No Te Calles’ … Rubén wrote a new song that summarized the essence of our band.”
“We penned the song ‘No Te Calles’ urging artists and the community to raise their voice in the face of political corruption,” said Diego Chi. “And we wanted it to be an ‘open source’ song, so we are creating a website, NoTeCalles.World, to allow the public to sing along with us and voice what they stand for. These individual recordings will be stitched together on the website to form a tapestry of people raising their voice –– an infinite song.” The resulting song will be dubbed Making Movies and Rubén Blades ft. The World; the site is now live and ready for public contribution.
“Popular music must become a part of the urban network,” said Blades in a press statement, “to inform people objectively, educating people worldwide on the need to participate in a civic way to rescue democracy, defeat corruption and create a better and fairer society. We are asking them to become active, to inform themselves on issues, not to be silent, not to accept the present state of political corruption, mediocrity and indifference to truth as something inevitable. It can be changed, if you participate.
“No te compran si no te vendes,” Blades added, which translates to: “You cannot be bought if you do not sell yourself.”