- Associated Press - Friday, November 11, 2011

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Hip-hop duo Calle 13 won album of the year at the Latin Grammy Awards Thursday in Las Vegas, earning the top prize after a record-breaking ceremony that saw the Puerto Rican stepbrothers receive the 19th award of their career and the most awards ever in a single night.

The socially charged rap group made history before the show was over, winning its 18th award for song of the year for “Latinoamerica.” That broke the record for most awards previously held by 17-time-winner Juanes.

“Today, the music triumphed,” frontman Rene Perez Joglar said in Spanish.

In all, Calle 13 was up for 10 awards Thursday and took home all but one because they were nominated twice for album of the year for their work on Shakira’s “Sale el Sol.” The Caribbean group’s anti-establishment album “Entren Los Que Quieran” lent a political overtone to the annual awards show, with its lyrics that slam the White House and the Vatican while celebrating the joys of being poor and Latin American.

One of the most controversial songs, “Calma Pueblo,” won best alternative song, with its lyrics that call the Vatican the largest mafia in the world. The group also won producer of the year, best short-form music video and best tropical song for its ode to behaving badly, “Vamo’ A Portarnos Mal.” Those awards all came before the show started, during a pre-telecast ceremony.

Calle 13 later opened the show with an emotional rendition of its anthem “Latinoamerica” before going on to win best urban music album, best urban song, song of the year and record of the year.

“May this transport you to your roots, your streets … and may you feel it here in your heart,” Joglar said in Spanish before the rousing performance, dedicating the song to Latin Americans.

The group easily hogged the spotlight from the other nominees. Even Shakira, the Latin Recording Academy’s Person of the Year, came home with only one award for best female pop vocal album after Calle 13 swept the show.

“We know that we aren’t the ones who get played on the radio … but the people who don’t sell themselves for money and make real music,” said Joglar, who goes by the stage name Residente, speaking in Spanish after accepting the award for best urban song.

The other half of the duo, Eduardo Jose Cabra Martinez, noted that the internet 0has helped Calle 13 expand their audience, but lamented that many people in poor nations do not have computer access.

Joglar said he didn’t care about radio play, and recounted advice a famous musician once told him: “The day you are on the radio a lot, worry, because you are doing something wrong, and so we have listened to him,” Joglar said in Spanish.

Calle 13 has a long history of lacing social messages over bass-thumping beats and its latest album continued that tradition, riffing on the exploitation of dark-skinned workers and corrupt governments. Joglar said he hoped Thursday’s recognition would encourage other musicians to fight “the easy and what sells.”

Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation, said Calle 13’s political leanings had done little to hurt their standing among the academy members, and mused that the group could soon add to its two Grammy awards.

“Musicians are creative people who are not afraid of controversy and they speak their minds, they speak from the heart,” Portnow said backstage.

Meanwhile, Puerto Rican newcomer Sie7e took home a Grammy for best new artist. He performed his Spanglish love song “Tengo Tu Love” with Mexican-American rapper Taboo from the Black Eyed Peas and cited Calle 13 as an influence.

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