Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Chicano Rap

Image source: Familia Records

With the doors of Death Row seemingly shut (at least for now, I guess) and nobody to really represent for the West, unless you think Eminem and Dre are the ones who rep the West, it seems like there is enormous potential for an open urban market.

Granted, there are some MC's, but one MC does not make a whole scene. Enter Chicano rap. Whereas gangsta rap from the West Coast has become played out when black rappers do it, and the fading of MC's such as W.C. and the ill fate of Mack 10, the Chicano rap is fresh in that it comes from a whole different perspective. Also, only established artists have been able to bubble from the bottom and come out with new records; wheras in Chicano rap the door is more open for new artists to make a come up.

Most West Coast artists like Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, and Dre have become larger than life; their music cannot be clearly identified as "West Coast" because they are making their music universal. The Chronic started that trend, which set up the sampling of funk classics and rapping about gangs and dope. With the popularity and growth came the appealing to everybody, including BET and MTV. Chicano rap seems to have gotten back to the original formula of rapping about gangs and dope, while Dre, Snoop and Cube have abandoned these topics.

I wonder if this music has a broad audience. I see alot of what No Limit did in the late 90's in what La Familia is doing. This seems to be a small label putting out a large stable of artists for a set market. Will it cross over? I don't see any big media promoting it. To MTV, this scene is invisible. BET won't play it because, well, the artists aren't black, or aren't popular in the black community. Univision seems to only stick with "rap" that sounds like salsa and sometimes like regaee. I don't really see it as appealing to most East Coast Latinos; I'm sure there are a few.

Cypress Hill pretty much represent these cats in the mainstream, but they have been selling music to a mostly white audience since their second album. Unlike Cypress Hill, these other artists are more rugged and rough around the edges, and extreme. Cypress Hill are laid back weed smokers, but Chicano rap seems to endorse a whole lifestyle. I won't knock it, but I wont really endorse it because I can't really relate to what they are talking about. Music is music, but it seems so anchored in the Latino gang lifestyle. I guess I'd have to buy a couple CD's to see if I could find something I'd like.

Homiez Music
Brown Pride
High Caliber Records
Lockdown Records

1 comment:

  1. Doc; alias UNBorn - Uiversal Zulu Nation9:00 PM

    I don't have any idea how long this post has been up, but I just ran across it looking for a blog that I wrote on this same topic. Chicano Rap WILL NOT AND CANNOT bubble for a few factors; some, you hit on in your writings. With Run DMC and the Beastie Boys taking hip-hop to a whole new level and into grounds where it wasn't necessarily before, that is just a beginning of the truth that the rappers HAVE to think on a broader stage, and become more "universal". The west coast Chicano artists and labels don't want any parts of that. Maybe they are too proud, or feel as if they would be doin a disservice to their own, I don't know, but the fact is they are victims of tunnel vision. In most cases, the Latino community would rather separate themselves from the Black community on a whole. How can you expect to expand, if you won't allow yourselves to even be accepted by the Black community? It can't be done. Fact is, rap is dominated by the Black community. That can't be disputed. Eminem embraced the Black community, as well as 3rd Base, Beastie Boys, and a number of other white rappers. So they too got embraced. Peurto Ricans on the east coast not only embrace, but they were also very instrumental in the creation of hip-hop in the very beginning. Here on the west coast, there is no closeness like that between Blacks and Mexicans. In prisons and jails, we aren't even allowed to really kick it with one another. There is TOO much separation, and as far as Chicano rappers, they choose to specifically make their music JUST for them. So it isn't the MTV's and the BETs (which is owned by the same company as MTV) that are keeping them (Chicano rappers and labels) down, but it is them doing it to themselves. Their labels won't even sign Black artists, but they expect to be embraced by the entire west coast? It won't happen. That would be like Blacks starting a mariachi band but refusing to deal with Mexicans. Would that band be able to blow up? I'd have to shake my magic 8-Ball to tell you, but I am sure the answer will read "Very Unlikely".