Camila Cabello’s Honest and Real “Familia”

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Few hispanic artists in today’s climate can boast being part of the mainstream and still keep their cultural integrity intact. For Cuban, Camila Cabello, it’s a driving force in musical sound and lyrical theming for her latest work: “Familia.” Ahead, you’ll be treated to a track-by-track introspection and review. Strap in, this one’s gonna take you back to where my blood is from. 

“Familia” 

The titular and opening track is a radically short one. Being an entire 17 seconds of pure trumpet. While it may seem like an odd choice, I like to believe that this is harkening back to her heritage by having a novela style opening. This track leads into the beginning proper. 

“Celia” 

Named after the late Celia Cruz, the woman responsible for popularizing salsa in the United States. She was also a Cuban-American like Camila Cabello, to which Cabello uses in this track. The track exudes the vibe of a classic salsa song with modern instrumentation. 

On top of this, the lyrics are fully in Spanish. The song talks about a certain boy that would love to move to Miami and get with Camila. The boy doesn’t know a bit of Spanish, giving Camila the perfect way to get to know him. The cultural differences, eventually, don’t scare him and actually finds a deep love for them. 

Where the title comes in is when comparing Camila to the late Celia Cruz. This isn’t done in distaste, it’s done as a way of honoring. Representing the energy and carefree nature of Cruz and her home. There’s an immense pride in not only who Cabello is but where she’s from. With the voice of her little cousin ending the track with “Soy de Cuba.” For those who don’t know, that translates to “I’m from Cuba.” This is probably the most important line in the beginning. It establishes the perspective she’ll be looking at the themes of the album through and after that we go to…

“psychofreak”

This track features recent and much seen industry collaborator: WILLOW. Her inclusion is welcomed and surprisingly subdued. She takes charge of the chorus and provides backup vocals, the verses belong to Camila. 

Going over your anxiety about your image and inability to be present in the moment is a special kind of vulnerability. This isn’t particularly unique, over the history of music, this has been a common talking point. However, it doesn’t mean that this track is a skip or unimportant. Certain lyrics are reused in a different context in later tracks, making this a solid foundation. 

“Bam Bam” 

Being one of the singles used to promote the album, this is one we’ve covered before. Even so, it’s worth noting how this song becomes more than just a break up song with a nice outlook. When placed in the accompanying tracks, this turns into a song about the relationship mentioned in Celia not working out. Of course, there’s going to be plenty of speculation as to who that person is, but that’s for a later point. I promise. 

The song welcomes the return of more salsa influences and Spanish lyrics and backup sprinkled about. This is used in the album as a sort of safety net. The title of the album is “Familia” after all. Family is what Cabello used post her break up with Shawn Mendez as a way to get better. Connecting with her roots and people helped her, and this track pushes that forward. 

Oh yeah, Ed Sheeran is featured in the song. Honestly, I don’t have much to say about his inclusion as he’s a pretty consistent artist. He’s been around the block a couple times and we all know what he can do. He’s good, but not much of a surprise… minus the fact that he sung some lines in Spanish. 

“La Buena Vida” 

Continuing the salsa train, the proceeding track gets me moving. Dancing and singing to this while cleaning is a vibe. As for the lyrics, it expands on why the relationship mentioned above failed. It’s a result of the inability to spend time together due to work. She goes on to exclaim that how they’re lives weren’t how she imagined. The singing is not from a place of anger, instead a place of dissatisfaction and understanding. The backup singers come in with such a wonderfully done translation of what Cabello sings. The trumpets, guitar, and drums are infectious in a way that only a latin song can be. 

Seriously, if you don’t at least tap your foot to this, pick yourself up ‘cause you’re dead my friend. 

“Quiet” & “Boys Don’t Cry” 

The two tracks that come after such a banger need to be discussed in tandem. Why? It explains what was so pivotal to both Camila and Shawn (not really him, but maybe… it’s definitely him.) That key pillar isn’t just attraction and love but: support. For Camila, her anxiety is a point of issue in “Quiet.” She goes on to explain how he calms her down and makes everything better, even if his presence can be a source of anxiety. More on that later. The music is a headbobber and vocally, it’s wonderfully done. 

For “Boys Don’t Cry,” while written from the perspective of a woman, the subject matter is clearly toxic masculinity. With lyrics like: 

It doesn’t make you less of a man, you’re just human right now” 

And 

Who ever told you that boys don’t cry?” 

The sweet genuine support coming from Camila in this track makes this a slower but much needed song. Rather than denouncing masculinity or painting it as the worst thing ever. Cabello goes ahead and promotes the understanding that showing vulnerability and emotions as a man is nothing less than human. More importantly, it shows what a good partner should do: care and assist. 

This was of course an issue Shawn Mendez has successfully overcome. The song is mostly a marker and expression of that and the beautiful progress made through love. 

“Hasta Los Dientes” 

Another fully Spanish song, Cabello sings in a super fun and jumpy song about jealousy. I think it’s important to clarify and explain the title as a Cuban myself. “Hasta Los Dientes,” in the context of the track, is used as a way to illustrate the pain she’s going through. This isn’t literally, it’s completely metaphorical… this doesn’t mean that there isn’t any literal interpretation. “Hasta Los Dientes” means “up to my teeth” or “even my teeth” (depending on the context). Given the way she exclaims that her body is on fire, she’s going for “even my teeth”. 

This is a common expression used in Cuba and most of the time is used in a playful manner. This corresponds perfectly with the music. This one is a certified banger and a highlight for me. 

“No Doubt” 

The sexiest song of the album goes into the paranoia Camila experiences due to her anxiety. Even so, none of that matters because when she and her man make love it leaves her with no doubt. The salsa is still present here and it’s so damn good. Lyrically we got this: 

“The way we’re making love, you leave me with no doubt

The way you’re biting the corner of my mouth

You take the psycho out of my brain, yeah

And leave me with no doubt” 

The smooth and wonderfully pitched vocals, the song fits in your makeout playlist comfortably. The nuggets are the Spanish backup vocals detailing where she likes to be touched and kissed. Among these is the reutilization of previous lyrics. Once used as an expression of vulnerability and a cute marker for romance. Now it’s used to sexily melt away in a passionate embrace. 

“Don’t Go Yet” 

A momentary trip back to the cause of her falling out with Mendez, “Don’t Go Yet” is done with desire. Where “La Buena Vida” is done with dissatisfaction, “Don’t Go Yet” carries a charm only found in Cuban women. It’s sassy, needy, and romantic. The imagination of what a night with her beloved is meant to be, the admittance of things done for attention, and so on. All expressed with a song you can dance to and watch as your girlfriend mouths or sings. 

There’s a deep desire to be touched, made love to, and above all, to not leave. Ironically, a song about what was an issue in her relationship, it’s expressed in such a beautiful way. It’s amazingly genuine and true. 

“Lola” 

The heaviest song of the album: “Lola.” This song states and sets in stone what it’s like to live in Cuba and be Cuban. It isn’t pretty. The track tells the story of Lola, a Cuban woman with a bright future ahead of her. She was smart, capable, and willing. None of that matters though, when presented with the fact that her family had no money for food and she had to leave school to work. 

Cabello touches upon the horrendous nature of the police and the consequences of speaking out against the Dictatorship and Communism. Oftentimes those who go against the government are found and never seen again. That isn’t fiction or hyperbolic, it’s true and happens far more than it should.

Lola as a result keeps her mouth shut and says nothing. Her dreams of falling in love somewhere else and being something die slowly. This reality is emphasized by featured artist Yotuel. Of “Patria y Vida” fame, Yotuel is the perfect voice to talk about the injustice and state of the island 90 miles from the American shore. He ends the song with a reiteration of the previously mentioned points and confirms that Lola is not a single person, but the state of the people. 

This song is utterly powerful and soft. It carries immense weight and breaks my heart each time I listen to it. It’s perfect.

“everyone at this party”

We close the album with a song confirming who the boy Camila’s been singing about this whole time is. In “everyone at this party,” Cabello alludes to Shawn Mendez and her lingering feelings for him. It is softly done on acoustic guitar and the somber sound of her voice shows off deep sadness. There’s a clear back and forth of what she thinks should be versus what her heart feels. 

You’re the only one I want to run into

But I never do” 

And 

Everyone isn’t you, 

I don’t want to search for you in every room, 

But I always do” 

Yes, there’s an acknowledgement of whether their breakup was the right thing to do. It even asks whether or not he needs her. This is most likely in response to Shawn’s latest track “When You’re Gone.” There he sings “Starting to feel like you don’t need me.” 

This is a beautiful song and a wonderful expression of a love that still exists. Oftentimes, it’s done in a way that separates the artist from that with fiction, but this is genuine. This is real. 

Conclusion: 

Camila Cabello’s third studio album is an LP filled to the brim with honesty. In all it’s pain, sass, joy, and sexiness. As a Cuban, it’s absolutely amazing listening to someone mainstream that understands and showcases the culture I’ve grown up with. Musically it is exactly what she set out to do. She connected with her roots and mixed it with modern pop in a way that spices up traditional salsa. 

All in all, with the strong sense of theming and pay off to said themes in genuine and heartfelt ways. I give this an A+

That’s it for now! For more on your favorites and unknowns, make sure to check out Music Daily!

 

 

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