Calle 13 is hot because they won 3 Latin Grammys, their self-titled debut album is one of the most original in the urban Latin genre, "Atrévete-te" was about the only relevant reggaeton single of 2006, and because the whole Spanish-speaking world is talking about them.
Residente does the lyrics, Visitante does the beats, and both are quite good at it. (Though not all songs on the album are of equal quality.) Humour, flow, and (very important) content coïncide in Residente's lyrics. There is humour in "Pi-Di-Di-Di" where he makes fun of P Diddy. (At some party Diddy supposes Residente is one of the waiters.)There is flow in "La Jirafa", where his words help define the complex drum rhythm. And there is content in "Atrévete-te", the answer to all the complaining that reggaeton is dirty and ordinary:
Yo se que a ti te gusta el pop-rock latino
Pero es que el reggaeton se te mete por los intestinos
Por debajo de la falda como un submarino [...]
[...] ¿Que importa si te gusta Green Day?
¿Que importa si te gusta Coldplay?
I know you like latin pop-rock
But reggaeton talks straight to your gut
It gets under your skirt like a submarine [...]
[...] What does it matter that you like Green Day?
What does it matter that you like Coldplay?
On the beat side, Visitante is clearly better at producing reggaeton than hiphop. The latter songs are not varied enough to grab the listeners' attention, while the reggaeton tracks instantly make you move. The difference is best noted in "Suave", which exists in both versions.
Calle 13 are white, both come from middle class families, and they went to art school. Not exactly the straight-from-the-hood type of guys, right. But who cares? Their music is fresh and different, exactly what the reggaeton genre needed to keep from repeating itself. I'm looking forward to the release of their sophomore album, sometime next March.