San Diego MC in Mexico City

Lord Mzderio was deported to Mexico from San Diego last year. He wouldn’t elaborate on the reasons, but told me his aim, now that he was in D.F., was to make it big in the Mexican rap game.

RAP CULTURA event in Mexico City. Mzderio says this flyer has his name spelled wrong.

The 20-something performer, who rhymes in Spanish, told me the only thing he found troubling about Mexico City, so far, was that his choices for cholo fashion leaned heavily toward L.A. It’s nearly impossible for him to find Padres stuff. Something gangster that didn’t rep that pinche city up north.  He says he’s an S.D. gang member.

We had a quick chat after he performed in a virtually empty hall located at a goth club near El Centro Historico, on Puente de Alvarado in Col. Tabacaleraon, turning it into a rap showcase for Mexico City’s elite underground rappers. Those who had paid some dues.

Mzderio regaled me with tales of being locked up in the county jail, and how he was deported after he got out.
He had just arrived some months ago in the city, and was now living in Ecatepec, about 14 miles north of Mexico City.

What happened to Mzderio is possibly what happened to about 300 people in Texas on Friday.

According to the Dallas Morning News:

Of the total, about half of the immigrants had convictions for violent crimes or drug offenses.

So, they say.

Large scale deportations like that are carried out by a branch of Homeland Security called, ICE. It was created in 2003 as a response to 911. Now, it’s part of a plan to rid the U.S. of as many people (“aliens” as they say) from Mexico and Central America, as well as other places,  by 2012.

The Dallas piece went on to add:

Secure Communities has come under scrutiny for the relatively low number of persons caught who have been convicted of violent crimes – or what’s known in ICE as a “level one” offense.

These ICE tactics seem pretty flawed. The Washington Post goes on to say:

The immigration databases that the Secure Communities program taps are not infallible. They list only foreigners who entered the United States on a visa or who were caught trying to sneak in but later released. Those who have never crossed paths with immigration authorities are not singled out — the same as U.S.-born citizens.

Describing ICE’s mission in 2008, the Newamericanmedia.org said:

The “golden measure” of ICE’s success, according to a 2003 statement by Anthony S. Tangeman, director of the Office of Detention and Deportation, is the removal all “aliens.”

Deportations doubled in the last 10 years according to this Medill report. The article goes on to point out that Mexicans are always the majority of the targets.

Mexican nationals have had the highest rate of removals throughout the decade, making up more than 80 percent of total deportations in 1999. However, this share dropped to about 70 percent in 2008, with other nationalities making up more of the total.

In Lord Mzderio’s case, whether for right or wrong, he’s here in Mexico now, and can share his passion for writing raps with another generation of Rap Kids, who need role models in a sea of Punks, skater kids, Chavs, Emos, Rockers, Fresas and Rastas.

Photos and interview from January 8, 2010.

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Cholo Rap: From California To Neza York

Pabellon Lindavista, Ticoman, Distrito Federal; October 18 2009    Photo Courtesy: Isela Martinez
Pabellon Lindavista, Ticoman, Distrito Federal; October 18 2009 Photo Courtesy: Isela Martinez

A hard-core rap concert takes place in a mall, just upstairs from a movie theater. No police presence to speak of and very light, but focused security.

Mexican rap (if it’s any surprise) thrives with its own sub-genres. You get the political message from a group like Advertencia Lirica, aging thug wisdom from MC Luka, the spirit of hipster D.F. gets a boost from Mood-Fu, and Pato Machete keeps heads nodding in his post-Control Machete years.

Nothing I’ve heard from groups like Kartel Aztlan or Cartel de Santa prepared me for a showcase of Chicano-style rap that I saw Sunday headlined by Kartel de las Calles along with acts like Neza’s El Plata Ramirez.

Rapper Plata Ramirez performing in Ticoman, October 2009
Rapper Plata Ramirez performing in Ticoman, October 2009

This was gangster culture as pop culture that I was witnessing (there was one vender selling Nike Cortez, Joker Brand bandanas, Dickies pants and dark sunglasses — a certain type of Mexican-American Apparel and the look of the SoCal cholo.)

Hip-hop culture is being used here to create an identity where rasta, emo, goth, punk, or sporting tight jeans and a colorful scarf just won’t cut it.

KDC rap crew take a breather after a quickie performance. Ticoman, D.F.; October 2009
KDC rap crew take a breather after a quickie performance. Ticoman, D.F.; October 2009

Concert-goers came from nearby places such as Naucalpan, Iztapalapa, Ecatepec, La Raza, and of course, Neza York (Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl) taking the bus or train in to commune with their peers.

Entrance to Pabellon Lindavista in Ticoman (D.F.) where the rap show was held. October, 2009
Entrance to Pabellon Lindavista in Ticoman (D.F.) where the rap show was held. October, 2009

There were young men and women with bandanas, jerseys emblazoned with “Los Angeles” in gothic text, “Sureño”, or the always ominous number “13” (as in the Mara kind) scrawled on their shirt backs, their necks, arms and hands.

Writing about the globalization of thug culture and cholo culture in Mexico is nothing new. I’m actually glad it’s been covered before.

Cholos grew out of Chicano, or Mexican-American culture, and found their greatest expression in East Lost Angeles.

Cholo style was most definitely a result of the Mexican immigrant experience in the southern U.S. as opposed to a style found in Mexico itself.

Wrote Jeremy Schwartz in a blog post about noted Mexico City photographer Federico Gama’s pictorial on Neza York cholos in the late 90’s.

Gama’s is a fascinating piece of work and you can see more here, following his bio.

Fans show their approval with distinct hand signs, or just mimicking L.A. gang culture? Ticoman, D.F.; October 2009
Fans show their approval with distinct hand signs, or just mimicking L.A. gang culture? Ticoman, D.F.; October 2009

It can seem like aping the culture created in Southern California, but without the high potential for danger associated with venues exclusive to gang-friendly crowds. Still, how can you judge how peer groups want to express their identity? Besides, with every “carnal” or “güey” that I heard, I realized this was Mexico’s young generation making cholo rap their own.

Rapper Tetos gave a controlled performance. Ticoman, D.F.;October 18, 2009
Rapper Tetos gave a controlled performance. Ticoman, D.F.;October 18, 2009

Here’s Teto’s set.

Plata Ramirez had good energy:

Sombras Urbanas also did their thing:

For more on other performers that played on Sunday check out:

Nasion Sureña Mexicana (NSM)

Loco Nueces

Kraneo

Don KFE

And for more info on cholo rap on it’s home turf, check out:

Chola rappers

Surenorap.com

Chicano Rap Mag

Looong list of Chicano rap artists

And what some of the smarter folks have to say about it.

IF that’s not enough, download this mixtape for healthy dose of Mexican rap: