Following the Rapnews summer holiday in Mexico, we find out what's up with one of the biggest and dopest Mexican hip-hop crews to come out of the country.
It's not easy finding out about Mexican hip-hop. Whilst many of the larger night clubs and more western bars play stuff you'd expect to hear in any typical London drinking spot, it's a lot harder to have a sample of domestic rap. I was aware from the beginning that a lot of the country's stuff gravitated towards the northern border and California, where the likes of world famous acts such as Cypress Hill roam, and after unfortunately having no luck in the more southern and remote locations of the country, I finally discovered some dope guys by the name of Tijuana Rap Sessions up north. They're evidently making things happen more than any of their peers, with a couple of dope releases under their belt, as well as recording the team song for the Tijuana basketball team that plays in Mexico's equivalent of the NBA. Whilst creating a strong presence of standard hip-hop, their music skilfully incorporates the awesome and colourful sounds of traditional Mexican song. Here's what Manoel of the collective's group NV had to say about the scene's background, output and position in regards to Mexico's mainstream music industry.
First off, can you tell us who you guys are and where you're from?
Tijuana Rap Sessions is a collective of rap groups straight out of Tijuana, Mexico. This includes Legion Marvel (Licor & B-Neno), NV (Manoel & Rael), Same World (Redef & Efecto), Aztek Flow, Cronik (Dreck & Trebor), Soxiedad Anonima & DJ Tyjuas on the turntables.
How did you all meet and how long have you been making music together?
We started working on the compilation in 2004. We all met being on the underground hip-hop scene down here in Tijuana via shows, studio sessions, and through the streets.
What are some of the artists which have most inspired you to create music yourselves?
DJ Quik, Dr. Dre, RZA, Scarface, Francisco Cespedes, Bill Withers, Los Tucanes de Tijuana Banda music, dance/hip hop music and traditional Mexican music.
How would you describe your sound?
It's a sound straight out the streets of Tijuana, Mexico. Like they say down here, it's "Puro Desmadre? meaning it's out of control. We keep it bumping… But basically, it's a fusion of many different influences found here in our city along with a mix of different genres like trio, norteño, banda, electronic, all mixed with hip-hop & raps in spanish.
What topics do you guys rap about lyrically?
Anything… Our first compilation "Tijuana Rap Sessions" has mostly party favors but we rap about whatever comes to mind, whatever we feel at the moment. The CD contains "Somos Mexicanos", a song all about being mexican, "En Tu Piel" a romantic ballad, "Cual es la ciudad" our anthem for Tijuana; "Dime" a dance/reageton beat, kind of sexy for the hunnies, and many more.
Is much Mexican hip-hop focused on the political and social situations of the country?
Some, but like everything else, it's just one subject and everyday life presents so many different situations. That can't be the only thing to talk about. It's just like any other genre of music.
Do you produce your own music, and if so, what pieces of equipment do you use?
Yes, we independently produce our own music. We make most of our beats with a Roland XV-5080, Yamaha Motif, Propellerhead Reason, custom samples, and live instruments. We record digitally into SAWstudio and do our mixing digitally within the same program with a wide assortment of plug-ins.
What artists do you most dream of having the opportunity to work with?
We inspire to work with a long list of different acts, even in different genres. We appreciate a good challenge. But we got to send a shout out to Francisco Cespedes, a very talented piano player, composer and singer. We would love to fuse that with some different sounds and a little bit of Hip-hop. We're definitely open minded when it comes to collaborations.
What releases have you put out so far and what success have they gained? Have you got any new records out at the moment, or being made, and what can you tell us about those?
We've put out the first self titled CD and Cronik's solo album "Celebrando". There's also several releases planned soon. Among these are a Legion Marvel album, NV's album and a new compilation series called 'TijuanaRap.com mixtapes'. This CD will be feature freestyles, battles, scratching and diffrent collaborations straight from the streets of Tijuana.
Who are the biggest hip-hop artists in Mexico, past and present?
Commercially, Hip-hop hasn't been explored too much in Mexico. The only groups really pushed nationally would be Control Machete ('95) and now Cartel de Santa. There are however many strong underground movements all through the country on the verge of breaking through such as GL Producciones.
What overseas artists from the likes of America, are most popular around Mexico?
Tijuana gets foreign music mostly from the US, since they border our country. There is a lot of communication between the two and some of those mainstream acts get played all over Mexico, such as Snoop Dogg, Eminem, 50 Cent, Cypress Hill, Mala Rodrigues, Orishas, Daddy Yankee, Don Omar, and many more.
How big is hip-hop in Mexico in terms of mainstream music and popularity?
As far as mainstream hip-hop, the big labels haven't really invested much, but they are starting to realize there is a big market here, and where there is money there will be support by mainstream companies.
Have you guys got a website that we can look you up on?
Yeah. Fortunately we do recognize the importance of having a social connection with the world. Thanks to the internet, we reached listeners from Tijuana to Mexico DF to Spain and back. Our site has music, videos, photos, graffiti art, and more… www.tijuanarap.com
Do you want to make any shout out's or leave on a message before this wraps up?
Special shout to all the playas & playets out there supporting the world wide hip hop movement. We said it before, this music we call hip hop, isn't going to stop. Stay up… Public Relations Contact Info: firstname.lastname@example.org