“Pa’l Norte” by Calle 13 ft. Orishas, English translation of lyrics and spoken parts

“To The North” Translation
Album: Residente/Visitante (Resident/Visitor), 2007
Style: Urban/hip hop
Countries: Puerto Rico, Cuba
Listen: YouTube

Translation:

Girl:
Unas piernas que respiran…
Veneno de serpiente…
Por el camino del viento…
Voy soplando agua ardiente*

A pair of legs that breathe in…
Venom from snakes…
By the way of the wind…
I go exhaling blazing water…

Announcer:
El día habia comenzado entusiasmado y alegre.

The day had begun enthusiastically and joyfully.

Spoken:
-Dice… Pasaporte!
-Ha donde va por ahí, luminario*, en esta noche tan fea?
-Usted no se anima?
-Mire como ‘sta el camino. ‘Ta negaiiiito!
-No hombre, cómo, el camino es lo de menos.
-Lo importante es que haiga* bronca.

-(He) says… Passport!
-Where you goin’, luminary, in this night so ugly?
-Don’t you dare?
-See how the road is. It’s terrible!
-No man, how (can you say that), the road is the least of it.
-What matters is for there to be a fight in you.

Estribillo (Refrain):
————————
Tengo tu antídoto…
Pal’ que no tiene identidad.
Somos idénticos…
Al que llegó sin avisar.

I have your antidote…
For those without identity.
We’re identical…
To those who came without warning.

Tengo tranquilito…
Para los que ya no están,
Para los que están,
Y los que vienen.

I have peace of mind
For those no longer here,
For those who are,
And those who come.
————————
(x2)

Un nómada sin rumbo,
La energía negativa yo la derrumbo.
Con mis pezuñas de cordero,
Me propuse a recorrer el continente entero.

A nomad without a route,
The negative energy, I make it crumble.
With my hooves like a lamb’s,
I set out to cross the whole continent.

Sin brújula, sin tiempo, sin agenda,
Inspira’o por las leyendas,

Por historias empaquetadas en lata,
Por los cuentos que la luna relata.

Without compass, without time, without schedule,
Inspired by the legends,
By stories packaged in cans,
By the tales the moon recounts.

Aprendí a caminar sin mapa,
A irme de caminata sin comodidades, sin lujo .
Protegido por los santos y los brujos.

I learned to tread without a map,
To go for a walk without commodities, without luxuries,
Protected by the saints and the witch doctors.

Aprendí a escribir carbonerías en mi libreta
Y con un mismo idioma sacudir todo el planeta.

I learned to write stupid shit in my notebook
And with the same language shake the whole planet.

Aprendí que mi pueblo todavía reza porque
Las “fucking” autoridades y la puta realeza
Todavía se mueven por debajo ‘e la mesa.
Aprendí a tragarme la depresión con cerveza.

I learned that my village still prays because
The fucking authorities and the fucking royalty
Still move (with money) beneath the table.
I learned to swallow depression with beer.

Mis patronos yo lo escupo desde las montañas
Y con mi propia saliva enveneno su champaña,
Enveneno su champaña.

My bosses, I spit at them from mountains
And with my very saliva I poison their champagne,
I poison their champagne.

Spoken:
Sigo tomando ron…

I continue drinking rum…

[Estribillo x2]

En tu sonrisa yo veo una guerrilla,
Una aventura, un movimiento.
Tu lenguaje, tu acento,
Yo quiero descubrir
Lo que ya estaba descubierto.

In your smile I see a guerrilla
An adventure, a movement.
Your language, your accent,
I want to discover
What’s already been discovered.

Ser un emigrante, ese es mi deporte.
Hoy me voy pa’l norte
Sin pasaporte, sin transporte,
A pie, con las patas*
Pero no importa, este hombre se
Hidrata con lo que retratan mis pupilas.

Being an emigrant, that’s my sport
Today I go north
Without passport, without transport,
On foot, with my legs
But it doesn’t matter, this man
Hydrates himself with the images my pupils capture.

Cargo con un par de paisajes en mi mochila,
Cargo con vitamina de clorofila,
Cargo con un rosario que me vigila.

I trek with a set of landscapes in my backpack,
I plow forward with chlorophyll vitamins,
I march on with a rosary that watches over me.

Sueño con cruzar el meridiano,
Resbalando por las cuerdas del cuatro de Aureliano
Y llegarle tempranito temprano* a la orilla
Por el desierto con los pies a la parrilla.

I dream of crossing the meridian,
Sliding by the strings of Aureliano’scuatro [*cuatro = name of an instrument]
And reaching the edge hastily early
By the desert with my feet on the grill.

Vamos por debajo de la tierra como las ardillas.
Yo vo’a cruzar la muralla.
Yo soy un intruso con identidad de recluso
Y por eso me convierto en buzo,
Y buceo por debajo de la tierra.

We go beneath the earth like the squirrels.
I’m gonna cross the wall.
I am an intruder with a loner identity
And for that reason I turn into a diver,
And I dive beneath the earth.

Pa’ que no me vean los guardias y los perros no me huelan.
Abuela no se preocupe que en mi cuello cuelga
La virgen de la Guadalupe.

So the guards won’t see me and the dogs won’t smell me.
Grandma, don’t you worry, know that on my neck hangs
The Virgin of Guadalupe.

Spoken:
Oye para todos los emigrantes del mundo entero…
Alla va eso… Calle 13.

Hear, for all the emigrants of the entire world,
There goes that… Calle 13.

[Estribillo x2]

Esta producción artístico-cultural,
Hecha con cariño y con esfuerzo,
Sea como un llamado de voluntad
Y esperanza para todos, todos.

This artistic-cultural production,
Made with love and effort,
Let it be a call of will
And hope for everyone, everyone.

Translation Notes:

Title: Pa’l Norte = Para el Norte = To the North (T’a North)
Group: Calle 13 = Street 13

voy soplando agua ardiente = I go exhaling blazing water; I go sloshing liquor

agua ardiente = hard liquor (word-for-word literal “burning water”)

Since this comes from a spoken part with a young woman in the desert, I translated it as “blazing water” to keep the desert heat imagery, but the Spanish lyrics meant this to be a dual meaning. It does mean liquor also.

haiga = haya (standard Spanish): see conjugation of haber

luminario = luminary, but I’m not sure if this is the word that is actually spoken. None of the other online sites had this part of the song transcribed. It sounds like comilario to me, but that isn’t a word.

Per an anonymous 5/11/2009 comment on my LiveJournal:

luminario can either be a name (sort of like a country, older, traditional name)
but it can also refer to a light, as if he’s carrying a latern if that was the case, it could be referring to someone who makes the trip on a regular basis. either way, its something someone from the country might say, rural slang.

Aprendí a escribir carbonerías en mi libreta
Y con un mismo idioma sacudir todo el planeta.

I learned to write stupid shit in my notebook
And with the same language shake the whole planet.

The word “carbonerías” on its own means curse words (swear words), but can also mean dumb brutish language in general, or “stupid shit” as I translated it. He isn’t talking about specific words (like curse words). He means he used the Spanish language for its full range, to say dumb vulgar things but also to speak clearly to the world.

antílico – I’ve searched for the meaning of this word, but it doesn’t appear anywhere else on the internet. Only in Calle 13’s lyrics. I think it’s mistranscribed, but I don’t know what that line should say otherwise. Someone suggested that the line says “pero tranquilito” (but remain calm), but that doesn’t make sense with the rest of the stanza.

The correct line is “tengo tranquilito,” not “tengo tu antílico” (what all the online lyrics sites said at the time).

traquilito = a little calm

patas = animal legs, with paws

human legs, legs of two-legged animals = piernas

tempranito temprano

temprano = early

tempranito temprano = early, with an extra sense that you are hurrying (and measuring your time in small increments)

See more useful discussion and comments at my old LiveJournal site. When this song first came out, there was not a reliable transcription of the Spanish lyrics available yet.

General Notes:

Winner of a 2007 Latin Grammy for “Best Urban Song.” I left some Spanish words cut short and certain dialect spellings unchanged. In order not to lose so much of the meaning in the lyrics, this translation isn’t quite as literal as my other translations.

If you are looking for other songs about immigration, you should also check out “Hoy Es Adios” by Santana.

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