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Weezy on Mexico City Bus Stops

lil wayne rappers prison

FROM HOLLYGROVE TO D.F.: Lil Wayne fronts Rolling Stone, here in the Mexican version. This is a bus stop billboard on the corner of Moneterrey and Alvaro Obregon in Roma

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Hip-hop isn´t as noticeable on the streets in Mexico City as it is in North America´s other major cities, NY, L.A., Atlanta, Toronto. That´s why this Rolling Stone (Mexico) billboard, above, caught me off-guard. You can find it throughout the city, on bus stops.
Does everybody know what Wayne represents, in the sense of representando? ¨A Milli¨ was played out a while ago. The only American rap cut I hear on Pop 40 Mexican radio is “Empire State of Mind.” Jay-Z is just mainstreaming himself like that I guess. That song Wayne did with Shakira, I hardly ever hear. It hurts my ears anyway.

The RS cover is a duplicate of the US version. Wayne going to jail, etc, etc. AP had a trite piece today on rappers going to jail

In the history of hip-hop, other popular rappers such as Slick Rick, Shakur, Lil’ Kim, Foxy Brown, Remy Ma, Beanie Sigel, Shyne, Mystikal and C-Murder have spent a few months to several years in prison. Snoop Dogg was acquitted of murder; Diddy faced jail time but he was acquitted in 2001 on bribery and weapons charges stemming from a club shooting. His protege, Shyne, wasn’t as lucky and was convicted in the same case and sentenced to 10 years; he was recently deported after his release from prison.

They talk to Shaka Zulu alot, Ludacris´manager and get the big jailhouse chat with Gucci.

Gucci Mane warns others to avoid his fate.

“Don’t keep bumping your head against the wall,” he says. “It’s a serious situation. It’s so many things that happen behind these walls. Think about how to avoid situations so you won’t have to come in here.”

The story is somewhat pointless, just a repeat trend piece some bored editor said to roll with, following RS´ lead this week.
The truth is, on the streets, going to jail is cred—a right of passage for Black/Latino men in America. Going to jail, as in the case of Tupac, and following that up with platinum success doesn´t happen to everyone.
I can´t name another rapper after, who had a publicized jail stint, then ran to the top of the sales charts when he became free again. What Wayne has working for him is that he´s still young. And, like Annette Funicello, Cubby or any Mouskateer, he´s been training for the music life since he was a pup.
But it´s not about that, going to jail for thuggery lends your rhymes credibility. I think if a rapper goes to jail for unpaid taxes or speeding tickets, it doesn´t work the same.

Of course, many of the faces referenced in the AP story bring the trouble on themselves.

Mainstream media and critics generally don´t have a clue when it comes to the particulars of these guys. It gets me.

Take for instance all the tatto-age on Wayne? Other than the ¨B¨ he´s holding up with his right hand, the rag in his back pocket and the ¨DAMU¨ scrawled on his chest—outright gang affiliation—what other reason does the ¨greatest rapper alive,¨ have to be going to jail? Thuggin(g), of course.

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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:

Another L.A. Crip on the Grind

“Born in the 80s, raised in the Sixties”: Nipsey Hussle gives some background on gang ties and who he may or may not see as an “enemy” on the street in a two-part interview with Streetgangs.com’s  Alex Alonso.

C-Boy from Harlem (not the  Uptown locale, but Jefferson Park) called me once about 5 months ago to tell me about Thundercat from the 60s.  His grind had been paying off for a while and he was ready to take his rap game corporate.

Nipsey Hussle is the rap name of the aforementioned hood star from 60s, pictured in the video above, who says he’s never seen Kurupt on the block. He  considers him a D.P.G only.

Hussle still has a lot to prove. If the son of a Black mother and an Eritreanfather can pick up where Game left off, then he’s in good shape. But just like the Game, he needs some radio- friendly hook-happy hits to push his star along. Because these days, the biggest news out of L.A. hiphop is going to be how a Utah high school wasn’t gangster enough for G. Malone.

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