Hip Hop’s Indelible Essays ~ ahem, Esés
Hip Hop is a force. It is arguably our nations’ most defining voice. I believe it was the exploitation of the old music industry that made Hip Hop a force. Now the power behind the Hip Hop force is waiting for us to either collectively recognize and respect it or we’ll lose it.
When I was a real little kid in the 80’s and early 90’s my grandmother had cable. When she’d watch me I’d watch Yo MTV Raps since the MTV network didn’t want to put rap on regular rotation. That show helped make a giant. Now the Hip Hop industry owns so much that theoretically we could afford to be as narrow-minded as our predecessor.
Yo MTV Raps crammed the entire world of Hip Hop into a few videos. It wasn’t surprising to see Kid Frost, NWA, Mellow Man Ace, and Public Enemy videos all in one show. I think we loved it all, Black people were talking calo and I learned who Mumia Abu Jamal is. My point is that we could all spit truth to power and be heard in a meaningful context. For good and bad our world has changed since then.
One thing that hasn’t changed much is prison and the fact that an alarmingly disproportionate amount of minorities are sent here. Due to prison politics of survival, Chicanos and Blacks have been at institutional war for decades resulting in many casualties on both sides. Both races are held against their will and neither of us has control of the environment in which we are confined. The threat of forced integration looms over prisoner’s heads which will inevitably lead to more casualties in prison and on the streets. The media and powers that be don’t care about this.
Mexican and Black cultures have survived poverty, oppression, and hopelessness. Meritorious claims from both sides can claim to have had it worse, both in the system now and historically, but that’s beside the point. Do you remember who Cam is? Not Cam’ron, who gets much respect even though he claimed in Purple Haze to have played golf on the gulf of New Mexico, but early 90’s Cam from the West Coast. On Cam’s album Made in America there’s a track called Keep the Peace, which expresses a profound, level headed sentiment which anyone who’s “been there” will likely feel. You should listen to it but the bottom line is we will all defend our own. We need to hear all sides of the story with voluntary integration-musical, not institutional-it starts with communication.
A good start is for Hip Hop to once again be all Hip Hop. Let’s be real. Real Hip Hop heads may debate the extent, but you honestly have to concede that the Chicano race has made very real contributions to Hip Hop since Hip Hop’s inception on
the West Coast. Since some people still don’t know, I should explain some of what “Chicano” means. All Chicanos are Latino, but Latino encompasses many races. Chicanos are Americans with Mexican family ties but we tend to blend with Mexican immigrants. Chicanos and Latinos in general have fought tooth and nail to be heard and respected in the Hip Hop venue. We’ve been following and setting trends in Hip Hop both directly and indirectly. This means we’re in the arenas of emceeing, break-dancing, graffiti, and tattoo art, etc. Some indirect examples would be ensemble, lowriding, slang, and yes, gang banging. Some people may say that some of these things aren’t Hip Hop, but it’s really inextricable.
So many artists claim to pay homage to Tupac Shakur, but did they really listen to him? If so, riddle me this – throughout his career, how many times and in what exact contextual reference did he mention Mexicans?
I’m writing this for my invisible race in my invisible state. For my hometown heros, emcees like Mr. Cyco and Bambu. Writers like Link and Agree who lived and died Hip Hop right here in New Mexico. Game will recognize game, struggle will recognize struggle, and real will recognize real. Hip Hop should know who Esé Spook is but I ain’t even nobody. Hip Hop needs to know about Kinto Sol, Amanda Perez, Mr. Shadow, and Lil’ Rob too. If you mention Flo-Rida ten times we should hear about Baby Bash at least once! Diamonique is Hip Hop as ever and what would the game be without Mr. Cartoon. We love our Pocos Pero Locos radio show but even the host, Lady Kool Aid admits that she wishes there didn’t have to be that show and we could just be accepted in the game. We’re getting genred and subgenred to death. Pretty soon we won’t be checking for any rappers except ones from our own race, city, and neighborhood. As the fame expands so should our attention spans! Chicanos can’t go back and start our own magazine ten plus years ago and be blessed with the same success yours has had. For the most part, no one but Latinos are checking for Latino anything. So we need your help.
Hip Hop has the power to draw attention and support for the underdog. Hip Hop was the underdog who became the big dog-the Major staple of the music industry. Remember when Blastmaster KRS One said (the term) “Afro-American means almost American-but not quite”? The world has changed a lot since Edutainment and I think it’s time for us to re-evaluate the term “Latin Hip Hop”. I’m just sayin, with all respeto…
Esé Spook Loco
¡Viva Nuevo Mexico!