Chicano Rap is a subgenre of rap and hip hop. It is performed and created by Mexican Americans and is done through poetic rhyming in English and Spanish. It is one of the few genres of music in the world that is particularly created and performed in 2 languages as most genres of music are only done in one language. It is distinctively done in two languages, English and Spanish. This is done because in Mexican-American culture speaking in Spanglish or in Calo which is Chicano slang is an everyday thing. It also talks about topics that directly affect the Mexican-American communities and also celebrates and articulates Mexican-American culture in the United States as it was created in Los Angeles CA. Also for those of you that do not speak Spanish Chicano means Mexican American in English.
The very first Chicano Rapper was Kid Frost and even though his first album did not come out until 1990 the “Hispanic Causing Panic” which had songs in both languages Kid Frost had been rapping in the underground rap scene since the early 80s he is not only a pioneer in the genre of Chicano Rap he is also considered the Godfather of Chicano Rap as at the time when he was rapping there were only Black rappers and White rappers, he was the only Mexican American Rapper to do it at the time. He was the first to articulate what Chicano Rap music is. One of his famous songs called “Ya Estuvo” is a song where he raps a verse in Spanish and then he raps exactly what he said in that verse in English. Demonstrating that he could not just rap in one language but he could rap in 2 languages so witty and brilliant that he could literally translate what he just said in both languages and at the same time have each verse rhyme. Very few rappers are as skillful and brilliant as Kid Frost; he is definitely an icon not only in hip hop but also in the subgenre of Chicano Rap.
He definitely created something new and popular that would catch on as it exploded in the 90s and by the year 2000 there were literally hundreds of Chicano rappers. Chicano rap is always done in both languages. Another classic from Kid Frost is the song “La Raza” which is literally the Mexican-American anthem not just for Chicanos but even Mexicans born in Mexico love that song, even though the song is performed in English and Spanish alike.
Later other famous Chicano Rappers emerged in the 90s shortly thereafter.
For groups like Lighter Shade Of Brown and another popular group in the 90s was Proper Dos. One of L.S.O.B. most popular songs is “T.J. Nights” a song that talks about going to Tijuana and having fun there. One of Proper Dos most popular songs is “Mexican Power” explaining the hard facts to people that never knew the real truth. Since most Mexican American history and Mexican history is not taught in schools when it pertains to the subject of History in the United States. The song also articulates his being proud of who he is and his culture. Another similar song is “M.F.M.” but that song is a little bit more direct and blunter. But the biggest Proper Dos song is “Firme Hina” which is a song about the type of women they like and their journey on looking for a good woman. It also explains the difference between a good woman and a woman who isn’t, which is the title of the song and he explains it in the song what that is.
Now when it comes to the music aspect of Chicano Rap meaning the instrumental on which the song lyrics are rapped over a lot of Chicano Rap music is rapped on recreations of oldies or recreations of Mexican songs and some are all original instrumentals of course as well. But at the end of the day a Chicano Rap song can be made with any instrumental no matter what the topic of the song is. What is distinctive about Chicano Rap music other than different genres of music is that it is created and performed by Mexican-Americans and is always written in English and Spanish both languages or a mixture thereof such as Spanglish or Calo which is Chicano slang. Chicano Rap is never done in just one language ever. When somebody raps in just English regardless of their race that would be considered general rap or the large genre of rap and hip hop not Chicano Rap.
This is what distinguishes the differences between rap and hip hop and Chicano Rap. It is the celebration of Mexican-American culture and rapping in English and Spanish as Mexican Americans speak both languages, as Mexican Americans also invented Spanglish which is a mixture of both languages and they also invented Calo which is Mexican American slang even though Calo is Spanish it is not proper Spanish. This is the reason why Chicano Rap is a separate genre because it is definitely unique and different from all other music. Also it has its own genre because of how many rappers there are in the world there is literally in modern times close to 1,000 Chicano Rappers currently.
Although the majority of them are underground there are also over 100 well known Chicano Rappers since the beginning of the genre. Although there is little media coverage of them because of the fact most Chicano Rappers are on independent record labels or are self-funded. Of course, there is also a lot of discrimination, prejudice, and stereotypes, against the Mexican-American
Community which also affects large record companies from giving opportunities and signing our artists. While skeptics would be quick to say not many people listen to Chicano Rap the fact remains that it is listened to not just in the United States and Mexico but people are listening to it all over the world with large amounts of fans not just in every Spanish speaking country but places like Australia, Japan, Philippines, and many other countries with sold out concerts not just in the United States, and Mexico but sold-out concerts all over the world in Arenas, Coliseums, and Stadiums. Of course, not every concert is held at those venues but many are. Of course, concerts are also held in many large popular night clubs which always sell out.
Now let’s talk about modern day Chicano Rap as one of the most popular songs right now is called “Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Mexican”. Remember how I told you there’s a lot of discrimination against us Mexican Americans? Well, this song explains just one of these issues that faces our community it also addresses the situation very directly. Although the song was originally created for the unfair law SB-1070 that was passed in the state of Arizona and it was released on the album “Soy Chicano Rap”. Which was released in 2013.
It is recently getting more traction because of the recent unfair law that was just passed in the state of Texas in 2023. Which is very similar to the law they passed in the State of Arizona although the song was created for that state and other issues back then it is still relevant today as it’s getting popular again. It is quite arguably the modern-day anthem for how most Mexican Americans and Mexicans feel in the United States today. As these laws that were passed in Arizona and Texas are unconstitutional and basically have legalized racial profiling which isn’t fair to anyone. These laws can affect not just Mexicans from Mexico but can also affect Mexican Americans who were born in the United States and are legal US citizens. There were people in the state of Arizona who were born in the United States that got deported to Mexico in the state of Arizona because of that law and because of them not doing their job properly in that state.
So regardless of how you feel on the subject you can clearly see how these laws are unjust and affect a lot of people. The song “Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Mexican” is performed by Serio and features Frank V. of Proper Dos and Conejo. Now Conejo is another very well-known Chicano Rapper who is very popular in modern times currently. One thing that is very impressive about him is he has literally released over 100 albums. There is nobody in Chicano Rap that has ever released that many albums, in fact out of all the rappers in the world very few could even come close to that. Also, another thing I would like to address about this song is you might say if it’s so popular how come I’ve never heard of it?
Well, I could let you know that this particular song was suppressed by the media and many companies as most people didn’t want anybody listening to this song regardless of who they are. Remember Chicano Rap has fans in every country in the world and in every race so it is definitely frowned upon by most people in the United States. Since this song was very controversial at the time of its release and it still is controversial today. Although a music video was never made for this song there was a picture that was made of everybody on the song. But at the time of its initial release before the album came out in 2012 in literally a few days the song received over half a million views and plays in a couple of days it was later taken down and not given a reason why or explanation. Now you can find the song pretty much everywhere, as time has elapsed and tension has changed a little bit from the initial law being passed because the Supreme Court overturned the majority of the SB 1070 law in the state of Arizona since the law was unconstitutional.
However, with current tension mounting in the state of Texas and this law being extremely similar to that law it is definitely stirring up again. However, to their credit Fox News was one of the few media outlets that actually gave coverage to the song on their main website now it wasn’t per se specifically to that song but it was about the artist Conejo. However, the song was mentioned and while most people might think that’s not a big deal that is a huge accomplishment for Chicano Rap especially in modern times with a song that is definitely controversial even today. Now if you’re new to Chicano Rap and this is the first time, you’re learning about the genre I would definitely recommend for you to listen to all those songs that I mentioned in this article also feel free to listen to others hopefully you enjoy the music because at the end of the day Chicano Rap just like any genre of music is not just for entertainment but education and awareness. Even though it was created by our community just like all music it is for everyone.