Above, Rapper 2Phase on the mic (center), at a January 2010, rap event near Centro. It was a 7 hour rap show in a hall connected to Cría Cuervos, a punk/goth space. Pictured is the entire concert stage, the bar was off to the right.
For my presentation today, I invited 2Phase and Yoez. More about them during our chat, but I wanted to give a little background on why I chose these two, of the literally hundreds of rappers trying to get their voices heard in D.F.
2Phase was one of the first rappers I saw perform when I got here in the winter of 2008 (Listen to some tracks from his 1st album, here and here.). He was performing in another punk space, El Under, in Colonia Roma. The reason why I picked him is because, first, he speaks English. And, two, he´s not only a rapper, but a producer for Revolver Productions. I felt that he could talk about, not only the rap scene, but also the technical aspects of production and getting product and merch out to the masses.
Yoez is a rapper I heard a lot about, because she was a member of D.F.´s first all-girl rap group Rimas Femininas. I researched this group for a story that appeared in Latina magazine, but I never got a chance to talk to Yoez. Her work is personal and she´s got a stage presence that can´t be ignored. I´ve seen her destroy crowds at Foro Alicia, usually over some heavy West Coast beat.
From the renowned muralist culture, to even farther back to its ancient civilizations, communicating through art on walls has always been the way here.
Today, with the support of a paint company and local government agencies, what is essentially a free hip-hop festival will take over Mexico´s main soccer stadium. A place were people go to worship futbol, for the 3rd year in a row, becomes a place for hip-hop´s faithful.
I went in 2009, and the event was regarded as too commercial by many graf heads. But, it´s one of the rare times in this megalopolis that lovers of rap music get a free open-air concert. ¨Wild Style¨ incarnate, here in Mexico City.
Below, Jezzy P , a rapper from Ecatepec who just dropped a new album (she´s been putting years of work into her music) will be a featured rapper on Saturday afternoon. About two dozen rappers will perform over the weekend, while graf artists are competing on the walls of the stadium.
I was reading another solid post by my man Daniel Hernandez yesterday, over at his always rich Intersections blog, talking about COLOMBIANOS of Northern Mexico. Months before, Vice magazine enthralled me with a piece on Cholombianos. Basically, cholos who rock to salsa cumbia and bite Colombian style.
Noticing a discrepancy in his spelling of the term, my inner copy editor screamed out, and I commented to my boy that he had it wrong: It’s “Cholombianos.”
No. He wasn’t wrong. But, yes, we’re both right.
To clear this up, I shot an email to Toy Selectah, pictured up top, who was mentioned in the piece. I interviewed Toy at last year’s SXSW for a piece on Niña Dioz. She was his protegé at the time. Toy, a veteran of the music business for about 15 years, helped create Mexican hip-hop. He’s the oracle for all things Monterrey, hiphop, cumbia and Mexico DJ culture.
Says Toy, via email:
“Colombianos” or “Colombians”, here in Monterrey, is definitely referring to the cholo colombian style. “Cholombianos” is just the combination of words to explains these guys looks. Like a typical Monterrey cholo, his aesthetic is being a Colombian wanna-be!!”
I have no idea who the gentleman in the picture is. But I see him at just about every hip-hop event in Mexico City. If someone reading this post knows this cat, please let me know via email. Actually, I should just approach him and ask him about why he supports his local hip-hop so hard. Pause.
I imagine that like me, he might tune his radio to Trackzion tonight.
Anyone who knows me knows of my love for underground hip-hop radio. I was scanning the AM dial one Monday night a while back when I found Radio UNAM‘s hip-hop show Trackzion.
It was a mighty surprise and one I’m glad Mexico City AM radio gave me. The show is hosted by Asgard with help from Sweet P, and on the blogging end, Urban Samurai.
What I like about the show is that it isn’t stuck on an only-what’s-new format. You can find some classic records (they once played a full-length Pete Rock DJ spot from WBLS in ’89) as well as the newer stuff coming off of zshare links everywhere.
And they know what’s going on — in both the hip-hop and urban arts world, without the backpacker snobby-ness.
Their shows include some guest interviews, and as much hip-hop and whatever else if floating their boat, from Groove Armada to Dam-Funk, as you can pile into a one-hour show.
They tend to lean heavily on Stonesthrow artists as well the healthy underground from NYC. But that’s just for right now, the crew has been blogging since October and only since last month have they had a regular time slot on Radio UNAM.
As far as Spanish rap goes, this show has discriminating tastes. You’ll hear fewer acts from Mexico, though they did have an on-air interview with Dr. Destino and they will occasionally play songs by other Mexico rap acts like Menuda Coincidencia from Monterrey.
Most Spanish-language rap fans in the post-post Cypress Hill era look toward Spain (Seville, Madrid, Barcelona, et al.) for their hip-hop much in the same way English-language rap fans (the globe, right?) will look to NY or LA before listening to rap from Canada Drake. The show reflects this Spain-ish focus, with some attention payed to the occasional Chilean act. Check their archived playlists on their blog.
Listen to Trackzion, on Radio UNAM. Every Monday night, 10PM (CST), on 860 AM Mexico City, or online .
Also, check out DJ Azteck 732’s Radio Kotos Chidos on AM station Interferencia 7Diez. You can listen, here, every Friday from 3pm to 5pm, AM 710 Mexico City.
update: For anyone interested in Azteck 732, one of Mexico City’s 1st generation hip-hop DJs, check out his Valentine’s Day love mix from a few weeks ago. You can dl it or listen online (via )
That’s Roco’s baby in Moyenei’s stomach. As a musician, he’s about as famous as you can get in Mexican protest-pop. It should help Moyenei’s career down the line as well. She came to fame in Chile as a singer in the all-girl crew Mamma Soul. You can check one of their video’s here. There’s also a good page of information, here.
Moyenei tried to bring that all-girl formula to Mexico a few years ago, and well, if you read her interview in my last blog post, you know how that ended up.
The Alicia was packed last Thursday night (Oct. 22) for the presentation of Fermin Muguruza’sCheckpoint Rock: Songs from Palestine , which was followed by music performances. The crowd grew restless with Moyenei’s singing and started to chant FERMIN! FERMIN! You could tell the mix of Spaniards in the crowd of mostly Mexicans. Muguruza’s brand of ska/punk and dub is much in appreciation in these parts. What’s mind boggling is that he sings in Euskara, or Basque language, and none of what he was saying seemed lost to anyone who was there. The power of music with a message.
Tonight the Foro Alicia gets all socio-political again. Moyenei will be on hand along with Roco to support a documentary screening by Basque rocktavist-filmmaker Fermin Muguruza. He’ll present his documentary “Check Point Rock: Songs of Palestinian.” Completed in 2005, its finally getting a world tour and making the rounds of Mexico City as part of the Docs DF screening series.
About the film:
“[It] moves from Palestinian cities, villages and camps to the neon lit streets of Tel Aviv recording the ways that “music hits the walls” of Palestinian society as it negotiates occupation. “
Her life was disrupted by injustice at an early age when her father was murdered in her native Chile under the Pinochet regime. You can read about it, here.
I had the chance to interview Moyenei via email for an article in the current issue of Latina magazine. She helped develop the female rap scene in Mexico City when she brought the idea of Rimas Femininas to town. A successful run of shows turned sour after some infighting that involved Niña Dioz.
This is my first shot at a bilingual Q&A. I hope you learn something:
What is your heritage?
M: Soy Afro-Chilena
I’m Afro Chilean
Mi padre era nieto de Alemanes y Mi Madre es Afro Chilena. mi estilo tiene que ver con la mezcla de razas de mi Sangre.soy latina, una mezcla de Varias culturas. Soy Meztiza
My father is grandson of Germans and my mother is Afro-Chilean. My stile has to do with the mixture of both races of my blood line. I am latina, a mixture of various cultures. I am Mestiza.
¿Cuando y como comenzó tu carrera en México?
Translation How and when did you start your career in Mexico?
Llegue a mexico en 2006 para dar unos conciertos durante un mes y posterior mente tuve que quedarme durante 3 meses para desarrollar 2 proyectos musicales y continuar Girando en el pais. luego de 5 meses volvi a regresar para dar una segunda gira, avarcando desde la frontera mexicana hasta guatemala . decidi en el 2007 radicarme definitivamente en mexico, convertirme en migrante junto a mis 2 hijos.
I came to Mexico in 2006 to do some concerts in one month, then I has to stay three months to develop some musical projects and to continue doing my rounds in the country. Then after five months i returned to do a 2nd tour, touching/touring from the border with Mexico and Guatemala. I decided in 2007 to stay definitely in Mexico, and to become an immigrant with my 2 children.
¿Cuando y cómo veniste a México?
When and how did you arrive in Mexico?
M: Llegue casi por casualidad no tenia muy planeado este Rumbo. pero casualmente tenia unos pasajes de Regalo que tenia que ocupar antes del fin de 2006, asi que decidi generar una gira auto producida para dar a conocer mi trabajo, y gratamente vi que mi propuesta estaba generando mucho que hablar, es decir, no existian propuestas musicales similares, que mezclaran la voz femenina , melodia y Soul con Rap y Dance hall Reggae.
y por lo mismo mucha gente lo vio como algo muy nuevo dentro de la musica Urbana tradicional en Mexico.
I came here almost by chance. This was not my plan. But it happened that I had some free airplane tix that I had to use before the end of 2006. So I self produced a tour to get my work known and thankfully I saw that my proposal was generating lots of talk, clarily, there were no music projects that were similar, that were mixing the femenine voice, melody and soul with rap and dance hall reggae. And that’s why so many people saw it as something new within the Urban Traditional music in Mexico.
Comparando la escenas raperas de ambos paises, ¿Cuáles son las diferencias y similitudes entre ellas?
Comparing both rap scenes in both countries. What are the diferences or similarities?
M: Realmente no existe mucha similitud en la escena del rap y la Musica Urbana, de mexico y chile, paradojicamnte chile esta mucho mas lejos de Estados Unidos,( la cuna del hip-hop) que Mexico. pero fue a principios de los 80 que en chile existia ya un un movimiento poderoso de graffiteros y Brake dancers pero sobre todo de raperos que estaban enfocados a trabajar con el Rap, como herramienta de conciencia y Lucha, en momentos que la dictadura Militar encarcelaba y desaparecia a miles de chilenos.
este moviento dejo una Escuela desde entonces, y podriamos decir que en chile hay mas de 2 decadas de Rap que a su vez a procreado a grandes exponentes Tanto Hombres como Mujeres. mientras que la esecna mexicana estaba cubierta un poco por un prejuicio social bastante grande y con pocos espacios para el desarrollo de este.
aun asi me sorprendio gratamente que en el año que llegue a mexico , la gente…el Publico estaba sediento de mas Rap , de mas contenido, de mas mensaje social, para su pais y su futuro.
Really there’s not much similarity in the rap or Urban Music scene of Mexico; Chile, paradoxically Chile is much furhter away from the USA (the birth place of hip hop) than MExico. Fue it was at the beginning of the 80s the in Chile there was a very powerful movement of grafiteros and Brake Dancers but specially rappers that were focusing their work and working on Rap, has a tool of consciousness and struggle, at a time when the military dictatorship was inprisoning thousands of Chileans.This movement marked a trend since then, and we could say that in Chile there’s more than 2 decades of rap that at the same time it has procreated big stars both men and women. While the scene in Mexico was hidden a bit because of the huge social prejudice and with few places for its develoment. Even as it was, it was nice that the year I arrived in Mexico, the people, the public was thirty for more rap, with more content, with more social message, por its county and its future.
Tuviste apoyo de la prensa durante Rimas Femininas. ¿Que piensas al respecto?
You had the support of the press with Rimas Femeninas. What do you think about that?
Rimas Femeninas sobre la tarima, es un proyecto que comienza en chile en el año 2005 desendiendo de otros existos proyectos enfocados exclusivamente a crear espacios para el desarrollo y la promocion del Hip-hop hecho por mujeres.
en diferentes viajes estuve aplicando ese concepto con gran exito, generando eventos y compilados musicales con Featurings de destacadas mujeres Rimadoras.
en mi llegada a Mexico tuve la sensacion de que era fundamental generar este espacio devido a las caracteristicas sociales con respecto a los espacios para la mujer.
como siempre comienzo a investigar sobre la ecena femenina local, y me doy cuenta que si existian varias exponentes pero que nunca antes se habia pensado en la posibilidad de juntar a estos talentos y ponerlos a trabajar en un proyecto social que abriera mas espacios y diera una mirada profunda al trabajo de las rimadoras jovenes de Mexico. Por su puesto que este tema llamo la atencion de toda la escena incluyendo ala prensa y el publico, por que en el año 2007 era la primera vez que el Hip-hop en mexico escuchaba algo asi como ES EL TURNO DE LAS MUJERES….
Rimas Femeninas on Stage, was a project that started in Chile in 2005 coming from other successful projects focused exclusively to create spaces for the development and the promotion of hip hop by women. In different trips I took I was aplying the same concept with great success, generating events and setting up musicals with Featuring outstanding female rhymers. When I got to Mexico I have the feeling that it was fundamental to generate this space given the social characteristics with respect to spaces for women. As always I investigate the local female scene and I realized that there were past singers but that they had never thought about joining all those talents and having them work on a social project to open more spaces and that would take a deep look at the young Mexican rhymers. Ofcourse this caught the attention of the entire scene including the press and the public. Because in 2007 it was the first time that Mexican HIp Hop heard something like this as was ITS THE WOMEN’S TURN.
¿Porqué razón no tuviste grupo por mucho tiempo?
What was the reason you did not have a group for such a long time?
M: Este proyecto duro desde finales del 2006 hasta mediados de el 2008, durante ese proceso , se generaron mas de 20 conciertos y entrevistas, con la construccion de varias paginas webs y la produccion y grabacion de Musica que fuera parte testimonial de este proyecto.
es muy dificil trabajar en estas tematicas, ya que como no existen espacios ni referentes anteriores es muy comun que existan confusiones y problemas de aceptacion entre la diersidad de Chikas que conforman el Grupo.
es lo que mayoritariamente se ve en proyectos de mujeres, ese decir, competitividad por querer abarcar la atencion de la escena para sobresalir en un mundo exclusivamente masculino.
en lo personal he visto esto en varios paises y experiencias. y creo que fue eso justamente lo que mermo la finalidad de Rimas Femeninas: la desesperacion de ver que existen nuevos talentos que talvez puedan llamar mas la atencion de el publico que gente que ya estaba posicionada como ¨LA UNICA RAPERA MUJER ¨de la escena.
This project lasted from the end of 2006 to the middle of 2008, during a process, where more than 20 concerts were generated and interviews, with the construction of several web pages and the production and recording of music that was part of the testimonial of this project. It’s very difficult to work with this themes, since there are no spaces and no prior references is very common that there’s confusion and acceptance problems between the girls that make part of a group. Is the most common thing you see in girl groups, competitiveness wanting to grab the attention on stage to be successful in a purely masculine world. I have personally seen this in many countries and thru many experiences. I think that is exactly what cut the end of the Rimas Femeninas: The desperation to see that there were other new talents and that perhaps they would call more the public attention and that there were people already in positions as the ONE AND ONLY FEMALE RAPPER, on the scene/stage.
¿Cómo te recibió la escena rapera aqui y como conciste a Ximbo y Jezzy P? ¿Quiénes fueron tus primeros contactos? ¿Quien te ayudo?
How did the rapping scene welcome you here? How did you meet Ximbo & Jezzy P? Who were your first contacts? Who helped you?
M: Solo mostre lo que hago, llevo 13 años haciendo musica , componiendo y Rimando y por supuesto que eso es lo mas importante y eso es lo que resalta al momento de oir una propuesta musical, creo que eso fue lo que me represento, la calidad del trabajo que mostre , la gente me recivio muy bien, mi curriculum habla de mis experiencias exitosas para con los proyectos femeninos asique pienso que eso hizo que se abrieran muchas puertas. Soy investigadora y me dedico a buscar para encontrar , nadie me AYUDO propiamente tal. si no mas bien con insistencia y averiguaziones pude generar una RED para hechar a andar esta propuesta femenina. A Ximbo la conoci por internet al igual que Jezzy, buscando justamente los referentes locales de Rap Femenino. Buscando tambien la calidad y la trayectoria de mujeres mexicanas que estuvieran involucradas en esto.
me costo mucho convencerlas de iniciar un trabajo en colectivo, ellas tenian la desconfianza de no haber hecho nunca algo asi. era algo inedito.
pero al poco tiempo se dieron cuenta que formar parte de esto seria Historico en el Hip-hop local.
I only showed what I do, I have been doing this for 13 years doing music, composing and rhyming and of course that is the most important and that is what jumps (out at you) at the time you hear the musical piece. I think that is what represented for me, the quality of the work that I demonstrated. The people welcomed me very well, my curriculum speaks of my successful experiences with feminine projects. Therefore I think that’s what helped to open many doors. I’m an investigator and I focus on finding something new, nobody helps me in that aspect. It’s more with persistence and investigations that I was able to generate a network to start to roll this feminine project. Ximbo I met via the internet the same as with Jezzy, precisely because I was looking for the local references of the female rap scene. Looking also for quality and trayectory of Mexican women who were involved int his. It took a lot to convince them to start this work together as a group, they did not trust this because they had never done anything like this. It was something incredible. But little by little they realized that to take part in something like this was historic for the local Hip-hop.
¿Y la idea de formar Rimas femininas?
¿Porqué contactaron a Niña Dioz?
And the idea to form Rimas Femeninas? Why did you contact Niña Dioz?
M: La idea me pertenece al igual que el nombre y la forma de llevar a cavo el proyecto, vinculando a artistas visuales y Rimadoras en un proyecto social que genere curiosidad y espacios para mostrar nuestro arte con dignidad y calidad.
niña dioz es una de las mas destacadas raperas mexicanas , asique era evidente que el colectivo iba a requerir de su participacion, por que era muy nesesario tener diversidad sonora, y de todo tipo, para decirle ala escena que veniamos a recuepar los espacios negados durante años, con calidad y diversidad.
a niña dioz la conoci tambien por interner en esta investigacion durante fines del 2006.
ella no se dedicaba a la musica asike tube que convencerla que participara haciendole ver que pronto veria los resultados en su carrera y en la promocion de esta.
The idea was mine the same as the name and way/form of carrying out the project. Connecting visual artists, and rhymers in a social project to generate curiosity and spaces to show our art with dignity and quality. Niña dioz is an outstanding Mexican rapper, so it was evident that the group was going to need her participation , because it was necessary to have diversit in the sound/musical diversity, of all kinds, to tell the scene that we were coming to recuperate spaces that had been denied during many years, with quality and diversity.
I met Niña Dioz also via the interner during this investigation towards the end of 2006. She was not focusing on the music so I had to convince her to participate making her see that she would soon see the results in her career and how this would be highlighted.
Niña Dioz me dijo que tuvo problemas con el grupo. ¿Que quizo decir con eso?
Niña Dioz told me she had problems in the group? What did she mean by that?
M: Pues en ese momento fue cuando yo decidi dejar de trabajar con ese grupo en particular de personas, por que al no ser de aqui no puedo entrar a competir por espacios para nosotras mismas en la escena local.
debo mantenerme al margen de disputas internas.
eso ocurrio, pienso que para algunas de las chicas que llevavan mas tiempo rapeando fue muy duro ver que nuevos talentos les estaban arrebatando el TRONO de ser las UNICAS Mujeres raperas de Mexico.
y en el caso de niña dioz ella dio mucho que hablar por que su propuesta es tambien muy novedosa y muy cercana ala Industria, con letras desenfadas y un sonido muy nuevo. algo que causaba mucha contrversia dentro de Rimas ya que algunas de las personas dentro no estaban de acuerdo en tenerla en el colectivo devido a su exito destacado entre todas las participantes.
surgio una pugna de la cual no kize formar parte, pensando en que nuestra actitud deve ser la de abrir espacios para todas sin discriminacion y dando un ejemplo para las demas chavas que vienen tras nosotras y no de mostrar nuestras inseguridades como psi estas fueran mas importantes que el unico fin de trabajar para todas y por todas.
Well at that moment it was when I decided to stop working with this particular group of people, because not being from here I could not come in and start competing for spaces for us in the same local scene. local. I need to stay out of local disputes. That happened, I think because for some of the girls that had some time rapping it was hard to see that new talent was taking away their pedestal/crown as the ONLY female rappers in Mexico. And in the case of Niña Dioz she created lots of attention because her expression/singingn gave lots to talk about because it was very new and it was very close to the industry, with lose/relax lyrics and a new sound. Something that was creating a lot of controversy within the Rimas/Rhymers because many of the people on the inside were not in favor of having her in the group given her outstanding success among all the participants. So a fight erupted which I did not want to get involved in, thinking that our attitude should one to open spaces for all without discriminating and giving an example/serving as role models to the rest of the girls/chavas/girls who will follow us and not to show our insecurities as if this was more important than working by and for all of us.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.