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Niña In the Game

Niña Dioz with French Montana and Raekwon at in New York City, 2013 Photo: Niña Dioz on IG

Niña Dioz with French Montana and Raekwon at in New York City, 2013
Photo: Niña Dioz on IG

When I wrote about this young woman in 2009 I had no idea she’d still be around to bask in the glory of fame and hip-hop. She’s stuck it out, and while I’m not an unabashed fan of her music, I kind of dig that she did a few things: come out the closet and continue to perform and make music. Truthfully, I don’t give a damn that she came out, but from what I’ve heard it’s the queer community that’s giving her heavy support back in Mexico. That’s one way to keep those concert dates hitting.

Here she is at some industry shin-dig with the flavor of the moment, French Montana and the  Wu-Tang Chef Raekwon.  She made a quick East Coast tour stop in May 2013, when she played shows in NYC and Philly.

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A Night With El Pinche Brujo

When I first heard El Pincho Brujo in his video for ¨Guadalajobru¨, an ode to his state´s top ranked soccer team and hip-hop lifestyle in Guadalajara, I thought I was hearing something special.

I didn´t realize regional Mexican rap had such a strong representative outside D.F. This guy, who came out of the Jalisco graffiti scene, hustles. ¨Brujo¨by the way, is the masculine for ¨witch,¨ and ¨pinche¨ as it´s used in most parts of Mexico, means either ¨damn¨, or  the adjectival ¨fucking¨.

On a Saturday night late last month Brujo showcased his skills. No DJ. Just him, a beer, and roomful of teenagers and curious hip-hop fans. He even took shout outs for rugged spots like Chalco and Iztapalapa.

He prowled the stage in mock drunkenness.  Hitting his rapped punch lines with a nasally flow ala B-Real, but with more bass in his voice. A few times he mentioned the drug cartel devastated Ciudad Juarez. But only got as deep as saying, ¨Man….Juarez.¨ Of course what more could he say?

On a sidenote: El Universal, earlier this year, did a good video report on hip-hop in Juarez. (via Red Barrio)

I´ve been told by one Monterrey performer that drug gangs are known to ¨tax¨ performers sometimes for their show money. It´s rare to hear the type of drug trade braggadocio here that litters U.S. rap.

Nedman Guerrero performed about an hour before Brujo´s midnite set.  One of Mexico City´s more practiced MCs, his style is strictly based in the old school New York-flavored street rap. Learn more about him in this interview (in Spanish) with the Grita Rap blog.

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Doble H en Mexico

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RAPERA´S DELIGHT: D.F. via Monterrey rapper Niña Dioz tears it down at the Spanish Cultural Center in Downtown Mexico City.

I just read a post over at the always interesting Mija Chronicles regarding hip-hop culture in Mexico, or maybe its lack thereof.  A topic I´ve been focusing on for almost half a year.

Let me first say that the Mija is a friend of mine, so in no way am I trying to clown her, but when I read these graphs:

I haven’t read a whole lot about why hip-hop isn’t big here, but I wonder if it has to do with the fact that in Mexico, there seems to be a culture of quiet acceptance when things go wrong. Politicians stealing again? Sigh, shake of the head. Yep, that’s what they always do. No water? Yeah, but that’s just the way it is. The general notion seems to be to keep your head down, and make sure your family is fed. Not strike back at The Man through politically aware lyrics.

That still doesn’t answer the question about why American hip-hop culture hasn’t seeped in more. Mexicans have embraced plenty of other aspects of American culture — fast food, sneaker boutiques, Wal-Mart.

I was like oh, boy (rubbed my hands together like a plotting mad professor) gotta get to back to blogging.

Before I continue, let me just give you a little context:

See, back in 2005, ya boy was sitting in the dungeons of  a newspaper (clocking decent loot), wondering to himself: How can I get the heck out of here? And it dawned on me…write. So I wrote. And I wrote about hip-hop, because, frankly I listened to enough 89 Tech 9, been to enough Rock Steady Crew reunions, the Apollo, Summer Jams, you name it to know more about this music and culture than, perhaps,  your average person who writes for a newspaper. At least that´s been my experience.

That said, I thank every reporter who didn´t realize Snoop dropped the Doggy Dog years ago, didn´t know Ceelo Green had a career before Dangermouse, doesn´t know who Paul Wall is, can´t tell me which rapper sampled in the opening of Biggie´s “Ten Crack Commandments”, or tell me what sippin syrup refers to. Thank you oh peddlers of popular culture. Thank you, you helped me find my way.

Back to Mija´s blog.

Hip-hop culture vs. rap music…yes, it´s more clear cut than the “I´m Black” vs. “I´m African-American” debate.

The Mexican embrace … of sneaker boutiques is totally hip-hop culture. So, if we just look at that BAM! we got hip-hop culture in plain view. Other than that..commercial radio out here is more apt to play Zoe than Jay-Z, but if you blast ” Big Pimpin ,” most Mexicans in their 20s will start bobbing their head to this familiar jam.

I won´t get into it all right now, because I´d like to give this all more thought.  And more posts, dig.

There´s a lot of evidence that hip-hop culture is as part of the mainstream fabric of Mexican society as anywhere. Now, the economics here are different, so you don´t see hip-hop pushed into people´s faces like you do in the States. I don´t know, maybe it´s the lack of suburban white people in Mexico that keeps hip-hop at a more humble existence here. But it´s here. And don´t worry, I lace you with the knowledge. I´ve got some adventures to post about, female emcees, and the rest. Stay tuned.

  1. In the meanwhile, learn about political hip-hop in Mexico.
  2. The O.G. DJ you should try to hire if you want your expat friends to experience real hip-hop, Mexico-style.
  3. See why all the love for bumpers and rappers.
  4. Why it´s just a liiiiitle racist down here.
  5. Just who is that girl in the pic up there?
  6. Sometimes we don´t JUST write about rap. But maybe “we” should.