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January 28, 2006


I am the woman I am because of Graffiti. I only started studying/practicing a "New York" style of Graf a couple of years back...although I've been tagging and painting since Bancroft Jr. High. My cousins repped the original KGB Crew in Los Angeles - Kingz of Graffiti Bombin, Kidz Gone Bad... Their work from the 80s is still living on certain walls in L.A. and beyond. One member, Gajin Fujita, went on to become a fine artist of the highest caliber.

My years in New York I was blessed to work with and for KET ONE at STRESS and later at Complex Mag. I count among my dearest friends, even if I don't get to see them as often as I'd like, KEO TOP a/k/a LORD SCOTCH 79TH, WANE 1 COD, KEL 1ST, DOC TC5, CHINO BYI, and a few of their folks that I've met a few times, hung out with, and been geeked to meet like DURO CIA, STAY HIGH 149, MARE 139, and LADY PINK.

I've been reppin' L.A. a lot recently on P2P; I want to show my love for NYC and particularly the BX this morning...here are flix from some of the best to ever do it. Michaelangelo's soul controls ya'll hand.

Rest in Peace to my cuz, SCOUT ONE KGB. Keep Bombin' Primo, I love U.




There are few people I respect in the magazine game. J-Mill, full name Jeremy Miller is one of them.

I can talk. I was not born and bred inside The Source. I'm the sole female voice of the third generation of writer/speaker/activist/revolutionary in my family. Crack killed 4080. The truth killed STRESS - NY's Illest Mag (Rest In Peace) - STRESS and publisher KET ONE refused to participate in advertorial and in selling ads in exchange for fake-nice reviews and accolades. Keeping it really real kept STRESS from being published into the next millenium.

Becoming a men's magazine full-fledged, mocking/aping the Culture it was built to represent killed Complex; although to the naked eye it's still breathing.

The best writers of this generation who cover Hip Hop, Culture, Graffiti, urban music, and street politics have one thing in common - they no longer are willing or able to write for these guys. In my opinion, it's really high time for a new periodical. I'm not the one to start it, but if you build it I will come. As an editor, a writer, or a consultant. I don't sell ads, never have, never will.

There's a fine line between art and commerce. I don't cross it. The line is right here. I. Don't. Step. Over. The. Line.

DOWN...but never out


My New Bio...>


Miranda Jane has been writing her whole life – even when the words get in the way. The daughter of world-famous Jazz bassist Buell Neidlinger (Cecil Taylor Quartet, K2B2 Records, session musician for Disney, X-Files, etc.), she started working in the music business in her early teens doing street and club promotions. By the age of 20, Miranda was the office manager of famed Bay Area recording studio THE GRILL (Tupac, Richie Rich, Mac Mall, Saafir, E-40, Dwayne Wiggins, Master P & No Limit, etc. all recorded there) which at the time housed the now-defunct 4080 Hip Hop Magazine. A phone call from Penalty Recordings PR woman Zenobia Simmons changed Miranda’s life forever when they discussed rapper Capone of C-N-N’s unfortunate incarceration. Miranda wrote him, took his collect calls, and flew to New York to interview him inside the walls of Wyoming Correctional Facility in Attica, New York. MTV was there for his release, but no other journalist interviewed him in the bing. The rest is history.

With the blessing of mentors Bonz Malone, Ernie Paniccoli, Allen Scott Gordon, Alain “KET” Mariduena, Jeff Chang, and kris ex; Miranda Jane has functioned as the West Coast editor of STRESS, NY’s Illest Mag (the only person to ever hold the title), worked as the Senior Editor for the launch and first year of publication of Complex Magazine, an Ecko Unlimited company, and as the Associate Editor for The Source. Her work has been published in the L.A. Weekly, Mass Appeal Magazine, MeanStreet, RIME Magazine, and on dozens of online publications including Platform.net, 360HipHop.com, BET.net, and many more.

Born into the music business, she’s no stranger to the record industry – having managed and/or consulted for artists MF Doom, Tragedy Khadafi, dead prez, Thirstin Howl III, Hieroglyphics, and many others. She conceptualized and A&R’d the Stonesthrow Records LP, “Mad Villain” a collaboration between Madlib and MF Doom, which went on to SoundScan over 60,000 copies and counting. A sophomore MadVillain album is currently being recorded.

Most recently, Miranda Jane has worked with DJ Muggs (Cypress Hill, Soul Assassins), Chace “Infinite” Johnson (Self Scientific), and Khalil “DJ Khalil” Abdul-Rahman (Self Scientific, Aftermath) – owners of the Fontana/UMVD-distributed record label Angeles Records - consulting on Marketing, Promotions, Press, and Product Placement, as well as the general direction of the label. The first two albums from Angeles, DJ Muggs vs. GZA/The Genius’ “Grandmasters” and Self Scientific’s “Change” were included in the L.A. Times Top Ten Hip Hop albums of 2005 charts.

While Miranda Jane has lent her gifts with the pen to over 40 publications and had her words in print in 12 languages, covering topics ranging from organic/natural health and beauty, to Hip Hop, to hard-hitting business news and current events; ironically it’s her personal memoirs that have touched readers most deeply and been her shot heard ‘round the world. Founded in May, 2005, Miranda Jane’s online diary/blog website has been read by millions of fans worldwide and is internationally known and globally accepted as one of the sites logged onto daily by the intelligentsia and moguls within the business. Read her immaculate words here at

January 26, 2006


Hi, my name is Miranda Jane, and I'm misunderstood. To know me, you have to understand my family history. My mother and my aunties raised me. My grandmother was the matriarch, the pinnacle, the arch-feminist...the one who would flaunt whatever it was they didn't want her to flaunt; and who would discount and stomp on whatever it was they wanted her to cherish most dear.

In the 50s, one didn't divorce. So my Grandmother, Audrey Tufli-Fuss, stayed married to a husband she felt she didn't need until her last child was out of the house. My Grandfather, Oscar, promptly moved to digs of his own in nearby Laurel Canyon. My grandmother would go on to champion the Gay movement, the Feminist movement, the Native American movement,
the Black Panther party, the Communist party, and everything else representing the anti-establishment where she could help organize people, lead a march, make a slogan, or effect change.

My mother, Deborah Murray Fuss Neidlinger Helms Hochman...who is now happily married to the Hochman and I'm certain her name will remain Deborah Murray Hochman for life...was a rebel. Oh, the crazy stories. Detained in a straight-jacket downsouth while on a days-long bad acid trip. Her days working as a playboy bunny cocktail waitress in one of Hef's first establishments, serving drinks to Mafiosos. The hippie years. The punkrock years. All I know for certain is what I saw, and what I heard.

When I was very, very young, my mother and her friends were at the forefront of L.A.'s "New Wave" music scene; the main players were my Godfather
Peter Ivers, who was later mysteriously murdered in his downtown loft although he was a Black belt in Karate, Judo, and other martial arts. One of the minor players, Tequila Mockingbird, stayed in my head. All my life. Her name was catchy but that's not why. She was a big, beautiful, Black woman with an electric-green mohawk. At least that's the first hair I remember her having. I'd later see her in an Annie Lennox video, and although NO ONE KNEW HER NAME or that there would be no Eurythmics nor Annie Lennox if not for TEQUILA MOCKINGBIRD...still she had arrived on my MTV.

My moms went on to work at an odditorium slash clothing store, Steps Into Space, and she went on to design her own clothing line, Milky Wear. Mostly leggings. And while wearing homemade clothing to school as a young youth filled me with shame at the time, I'm now proud that my mother made clothes. She was a young, beautiful divorcee with two children, living in a dusty Laurel Canyon house that was paid
for, yet falling apart. Instead of letting her circumstances - my father's newfound wealth, his abandonment of us all, his abuse, his new wife - she became creative instead of crazy, driven instead of delusional. Mom, I love you for that.

Many people may not agree with the way my mother raised me, her daughter, her firstborn child. She first passed me a joint at the age of 9. She gave me hashish for my cramps when I was 12. And close to that time, at a house party comprised of a way-out melange of her friends, my friends, some random gangbangers who happened by, the Laurel Canyon intelligentsia, and some of the important behind-the-scenes Hollywood players of that day and time; one of said players passed around some coke (powder, not rock). My mom told me I should try it if I wanted to. I did a line and wasn't impressed with the results. (Who knew I'd later rock it up and sell it out of my dorm room when my father gave me $100 a month spending money to get me through college and I had too many classes to have time for a mall job!).

I remember a road trip where my mom was talking to her friend in the car. I think it was Karen L. They were telling each other about some recent sexcapade. At this time I already had way more body than my mom, which meant I was 11 or older. I was halfway listening, until my mom said "Well, it's a good thing you don't need tits to fuck!". They both laughed. I was embarrased, but only because I had big breasts and theirs were tiny. I was very young and they were very middle-aged.

Years later I saw the photo shoot of my mother 8 and 1/2 months pregnant with me, out in the woods of Laurel Canyon, fully nude. Her face was beautiful, her hair was long and luxurious, and her body looked amazing. Demi Moore in Vanity Fair is nothing compared to my flowerchild Mama in pregnant resplendance. I had a nude photo shoot of my own only a few months later, also in the hills, laid out on the floor amongst some fallen leaves. For those who care, the shoot included beaver shots and the whole nine yards. If there is a nude photograph of my father anywhere, there is a God because I haven't seen any of these photos.

A short time after my first photo spread, pun intended, my mother and I "came out" in the film "SHAMPOO" starring Goldie Hawn and Warren Beatty. My mother is in the bar scene, wearing a dress, smoking a joint at the bar while breastfeeding me, with her breast exposed. Naturally the scene is cut when Shampoo airs on TV. At just months old, I was famous. And paid! I think they made a check for me for $1,000...I have to check on my Social Security statement to be sure.

I started taking serious photos at 10, and the most beautiful shots of me to this day
are circa those years, shot by my mom. No one other photographer has captured my beauty the same way. But she is a really, really good photographer.

About six months ago, I started noticing this Suicide Girls shit everywhere. I peeped some of the images, and I wasn't too impressed. Bad lighting. Tattoos for the sake of having a gang of tattoos. Girl on girl on girl for the sake of guys liking girls on girls. Faux punkrock style reeking of fashionista tendencies, not Suicidal ones. I'm not hating, GET MONEY girls, but there is a past, present and future for everything.

I had been had the notion to do some pinups. I wanted to get into slightly better shape, just for my own edification, but stay Rubenesque as always to show the world that big, beautiful women are to be respected and valued and prized for their size. I wanted to do my own photo shoots first, then show them to certain of my homegirls to show them not to be scared, and ask them to pose too. I never really wanted this to be an internet thing, because I value print photography, and Black & White, and I wanted to replicate the old-style movie posters and Pinup-girl Calendars of the 30s, 40s and 50s. I wanted B-Girls and Graf artists like Asia One, Peppa, A-B Girl, MEOW, and others to get down with me on this project to show that we're all different colors and sizes and shapes, but we represent HIP HOP CULTURE until the death.

So my idea is RIOT B*GRRRLS, lauding the Riot Grrrls, all B-Girls and Break Girls and Bronx Girls, and flipping "porn" on it's ear to include aspects of the feminist movement, showing women of all sizes, shapes, colors, races and ages who LOVE MEN, BUT LOVE THEMSELVES FIRST. You know, MY SHIT.

So here are some of the images of inspiration. I have to shout out my inspirations of beauty. My Granny, the most beautiful face ever photographed. My Mommy...still the most beautiful face EVER. My Auntie Judy, who was the baddest bitch in her day, and came out on the front cover of LIFE MAGAZINE on July 29, 1957, looking BEAUTIFUL in her role as a babysitter reading a book to a toddler. And like all the women in my family, my Auntie wasn't just another pretty face, she also edited a crucial anthology of children's books, NON-SEXIST BOOKS FOR CHILDREN.

Finally, I have to shout out the two most glamourous women I've ever known, Ms. Takara Spencer and Ms. Vanylla Chile. Besides myself, Ms. Miranda James.

ONE THING WE HAVE IN COMMON...WE ALL GIVE GOOD FACE! (Boys, get your minds out of the gutter...for once...and don't cut your noses off to spite your faces.)





January 24, 2006


Just checking back over some links I haven't peeped in a while, since I had a much-needed free day today. Man, Carlito is the shit. When he was the Editor in Chief of the sauce, he made it so much better than it ever was. As a writer, an editor, a reader...I respect this man! Here's a DOPE, killer, straight acesino article from his blog joint, http://antistat.blogspot.com/ Hit him up on his comments section to show the love. Yeahdat.

I had a deep-ass conversation with Thirstin Howl III the other day about race and color, and he said he don't believe in the shit. Same for religion. That they're all the same, just different permutations. He's the original Lo-Life Nuyorican, Puerto Rican born in New York, so he should know. Check out his song "Cahelo Con Calma" which utilizes the Jr. Gong "Welcome to Jamrock" beat and melody, but in puro Espanglish. He recently shot a video for the track in Peru, so keep your eyes peeled for that too.

Anyway, I digress, back to the damn Carlito Rodriguez jawn. MIRA!

Vamos A Rapiar

Latinos and Hip-Hop Music

by Carlito Rodriguez

Rafy Miyares, a young man born of Dominican parents, stands on the corner of 180 Street and Broadway in the Washington Heights section of New York City, a neighborhood known as much for its epidemic amount of illegal drug activity as it is for being the major enclave of the Dominican community in America. Although the colors and brand names may differ from the next individual, his uniform of Polo Sport, Mecca jeans, Avirex leather jacket and Tims betrays him as one of the many hip-hop heads in the New York metro.

Lightweight headphones perched lightly on his ears, he’s nodding his head and swaying his torso in time to the latest from Busta Rhymes. His eyes dart across the street as he spots one of his boys: “¡Tigere, ven aca!”

The two engage in rapid-fire conversation, effortlessly switching back and forth from English to Spanish, finally ending the exchange with a hearty pound and the requisite, “One, m’nigga…”
“Anyway,” says Rafy, turning his attention back to the subject at hand, “it don’t matter to me if Busta’s Black, yo. Why should it? If the nigga’s nice, he’s nice.”

When asked why he refers to himself and Busta with a word that many Blacks have deemed off-limits to non-Blacks, he replies, “Aw, man, look at me. I ain’t exactly white, y’know? I know my history, kid. Besides, I got mad friends that are morenos [Spanish word meaning “Black people” which comes from moros, the Spaniards’ word for the Moors, a North African Muslim people who invaded and occupied Spain for over 700 years]. They know the deal, B. I ain’t tryin’ to shit on ’em. That word just means ‘a dude’ to me.”

Three thousand miles away on Cesar Chavez Boulevard in East Los Angeles, a region of L.A. county recognized for its overwhelmingly Mexican population, Jesus Gutierrez leans on the shiny front fender of his metallic-blue ’64 Impala, sporting the East Los customary pressed Dickies, Black Flys, freshly shaved bald-head and monochromatic tattoos for days. Careful to lower the volume whenever the ever-present LAPD cruiser strolls by, Jesus blows the smoke from his cigarette while seemingly meditating to the eerie horns and uptempo rhythms of “Stone Garden” from Psycho Realm. The occasional other cholo who happens by is greeted with a casual, “Orale, homes,” and a laid back nod of the head.

“Fuck yeah,” he answers to a previously asked question, “it definitely matters that Psycho Realm is Mexican, ese. They’re representin’ la Raza. I ain’t got anything against the negros, dude, but it’s cool to see my own people up there.”

Rafy and Jesus are not unlike countless Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, Columbian or any other Latino kids who populate the hip-hop nation. But although hip-hop is lauded as—and expected to be—the great unifier of the disenfranchised masses of Urban American Youth, it is a culture which mostly everyone—from the media to academia to some of the very heads who claim to live it—defines as “Black.”

For Latinos, that persistent labeling shouldn’t register anything more severe than a slight annoyance. After all, a quick perusal of a history book or two will show that along with inheriting a religion and an entire language from the Spaniards, Latinos have inherited quite a bit from their African antecedents, as well. If the one-drop rule means anything, Black is Black.
But when “Black” is used more as a definition of culture than as a definition of outward appearance, defining hip-hop culture as “Black” leaves the impression that any other cultural group who participates must somehow negate its own identity and assume the identity of the dominant group. That simple annoyance becomes a big pain-in-the-ass. And when Latino hip-hop kids are asked by non-hip-hop Latinos to explain why they’ve “sold out,” the negative feelings grow exponentially.

“I still remember when Luis, my best friend, who’s Puerto Rican, once said to me, ‘Why you always listenin’ to that gorilla shit?’ because I was always into hip-hop. Damn. I ain’t understand that shit, B. I mean, I expected that kind of shit from my older brothers, who were not only on some anti-Black shit, but on some anti-Puerto Rican shit, too. But from a Puerto Rock?!”
In that quick breath of a statement, Rafy touched upon touchy subjects that have plagued the Latino and Black communities of New York for some time.

In simplest terms, the Blacks—already feeling the ever-tightening choke-hold of America’s policy towards its darker denizens for three hundred years plus—didn’t exactly appreciate the Puerto Ricans coming over in droves during the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, and snatching up some of the few jobs available to non-whites.

Worse, some of these mira-mira muthafuckas are so light-skinned, they even think they white!The Puerto Ricans—already aggravated beyond recompense because of Uncle Sam’s insistence upon controlling the fate of their homeland and its precarious economy—didn’t appreciate having to uproot their lives, and leave their beloved Borinquen for the colder, literally and figuratively, climes of New York.

Worse, the morenos say we’re dark-skinned whites and (of all the fuckin’ nerve!) the whites call us ‘niggers with straight hair!’And the Dominicans—already fleeing a thirty-year dictatorship and the subsequent corrupt governments that followed its demise, not to mention an all-out invasion by US troops in 1965 and a rapidly widening gap between extremely rich and desperately poor—didn’t appreciate having to put up with any uppity attitude from a bunch of wannabe-American Boris who couldn’t even keep their own country for more than seven days in 1898 when they won their independence from Spain and lost it to the Americans within a week.
Worse, people confuse us with the maldito prietos, like we look like them or something!

Such attitudes, while not necessarily representative of the majority, reflect the ongoing struggle to maintain a sense of self in a country which demands that its newcomers—both the voluntary and involuntary kinds—jump into the great melting pot, while asking them to discard most of the flavor they’ll be bringing to the stew.

By the time Kool Herc and company were doing their thing in the Bronx, those feelings definitely still existed, but after years of having shared the same stifling air-space, Blacks and Latinos in New York were co-existing with relative peace. And because of their linguistic, religious, and cultural similarities, Latinos in the area—who were primarily from the Caribbean—were doing the same amongst themselves.

On October 12, 1492, an Italian explorer and his three-galleon entourage, traveling under the auspices of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabela of Spain, stumbled upon the Bahamian island of Guanahaní after wandering around in the Atlantic Ocean for several months in search of a westerly route from Europe to Asia. Incorrectly assuming he’d succeeded in his mission by landing in India, Cristobal Colón—or “Christopher Columbus,” as the English would later call him—dubbed the curious natives “Indios” and immediately claimed the island for the Spanish crown, christening it “San Salvador.”

The indigenous folk, an openly friendly lot whose ancestors had crossed the Bering Land Bridge from Asia into North America some 10,000 or so years prior, had no way of knowing Colón’s intentions when they greeted him and his equally pale-skinned cohorts with as much hospitality as they did awe. These natives—Arawak by name, although Colón’s mistaken identification persists to this day—offered all types of assistance to the newcomers, including directions to Cubanacán, a larger mass of land about a hundred miles to the south.

Colón, still believing his calculations to be correct and that he was in Asia, set sail a few days later and upon landing at the larger island, sent a delegation ashore to demand gold from the Emperor of China. Needless to say, he never found the Emperor, or any other Chinese for that matter, but instead encountered three other groups of Arawak: the Siboney, the Mayari and the Taino.

Not long after arriving on Cubanacán (or “Cuba,” for short), Colón and his men sailed eastward until they landed on yet another island, this one also claimed in the name of Spain and her Catholic monarchs. Christening it “La Hispaniola,” Colón decided to return to Spain and tell the King and Queen of his amazing “discovery,” leaving 39 of his men behind while he sailed back to Europe.

Hip-hop’s earliest history records a number of Latinos who, along with the likes of Bambaataa, Flash, Coke La Rock and other pioneers, were right up in the parks DJing, MCing, breaking and bombin’. By no means predominating, but far from occupying token positions, brothers like Disco Wiz, DJ Charlie Chase, Ruby Dee, Whipper Whip, O.C. and Devastating Tito, among others, were indicators of a Latino presence in hip-hop music. In the early ’80s, a group named Mean Machine even paid homage to its Latino roots by recording their self-titled single, the first rap song recorded entirely in Spanish.

As hip-hop, primarily Rap music, gained in recognition and began its spread across the country, the mainstream media began their usual practice of affixing their own neat labels to phenomena they couldn’t—or didn’t care to—understand. Before long, Latinos were rarely mentioned in discussions of hip-hop, unless of course, for the patronizing acknowledgements of their contributions to breaking and graffiti writing.

And as often happens when outsiders with above average power and influence stake a claim in an indigenous culture, history was re-written to the point where even the subjects of that history forgot reality and accepted the infiltrators’ versions of truth. Latinos were relegated to the ranks of consumers, not creators, of the artform, and even that title was later stripped away when mountain-climbing guitar players at record companies decided that Latinos do not buy or even listen to hip-hop.

Worse still, younger Black kids who didn’t realize they were witnessing false hip-hop history in the making, looked upon any Latino kids who just happened to be lyrically or turntablistically adept as bizarre anomalies, wandering ronin of some sort who were not accepted by their own and therefore sought to find a home in hip-hop.

Big Pun, an artist on Loud Records who has become one of the most anticipated MCs after appearances with Fat Joe, the Beatnuts and his own promotional singles, “You Ain’t A Killa” and “I’m Not A Playa,” recalls the times when his worth as an artist was based not on its own merits, but on the fact that he’s Puerto Rican.

“In the beginning it was like that,” he says. “People would say, ‘he’s nice… For a Puerto Rican.’ After I went through [Fat Joe’s single] ‘Firewater’ and ‘You Ain’t A Killa,’ people were like, ‘Oh, he’s niiice.’”

Fat Joe, of Puerto Rican/Cuban lineage, adds that even when the general consensus towards his own ability to rock mics was positive, record label heads told him that he’d be too difficult to market.

“When I first came out, I felt like being Latino was an obstacle,” he admits, “even though I looked upon me being Latino as an advantage because we’re bilingual, meaning we have two audiences checking for us: the hip-hop niggas and the Spanish niggas who wanna represent for the patria. But the label niggas—even those who were Black—was like, ‘Yo, you dope, money, and I know your crew is hot, but you’re Puerto Rican. And Puerto Ricans ain’t for hip-hop. It’s a Black thing.’ That shit was fuckin’ my head up.”

With parents, older relatives and even contemporaries who never became involved with hip-hop castigating them for listening to “that jungle music” (never mind that Salsa, Merengue, and damn near all other forms of Latino music and rhythms have their origins in Africa), Latino heads now also had to prove themselves to their long-time comrades, the same Black kids with who they fought the same daily wars against the many ills of a second-class existence, side by side in the same ghetto trenches.

By the time Colón returned to Hispaniola—present day Haiti and the Dominican Republic—almost a year later, all 39 of his men had been killed for looting the native settlements and raping the women. The Spaniards, as those 39 sailors had proved to be their idea all along, put their campaign of total subjugation and domination in full effect across the islands. And although the Arawak tribes—particularly the proud Carib, a fierce, cannibalistic group—fought bravely, they were no match for the Spaniards’ advanced weapons and war-making technology. In their unquenchable thirst for gold and silver, the Spaniards eventually overran virtually all of the Caribbean, down into South America, up into the lower parts of North America and across to Mexico and Central America, finally running out of land at the Pacific Ocean.

In time, because of the inhumane work conditions and their lack of immunity against diseases brought to their lands by the Spanish, the Arawak began dying off at a genocidal rate. The Spaniards, having already been importing African slaves to work in Europe, began replacing the natives with the Africans, and before long, despite “official” attitudes against it, miscegenation occurred, resulting in a conglomeration of appearances, practices and philosophies.

Thus began the cataclysmic relationship among the Spanish, the Africans and the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere. It is this relationship between the conquerors, the conquered and the forcefully imported labor that has produced the entirely new, distinct, hybrid cultures, nationalities and ethnicities that collectively make up the Latino people.

Already feeling the sting from accusations that they had somehow abandoned their native cultures, Latinos equated the Blacks’ excluding them from the hip-hop fold with betrayal. Indeed, quite a few Latinos, particularly those from the East Coast, abandoned Rap music altogether for the uptempo dance grooves of club music—or “freestyle,” as it was more popularly known.

Ironically, most freestyle songs used the Planet Rock drum pattern as their basis. And almost as a reminder that the Latino/Black relationship was a stronger bond than previously suspected, some even dubbed the sound “Latin Hip-Hop.”

Those Latinos who remained faithful to the beats and rhymes made do with what was available for aural consumption. Rap was rap, after all, and whether or not an artist was Latino didn’t matter to them. Perhaps because of a greater awareness of the inherent multi-culturalism of the US, but more than likely because the masses simply could not front on the distinct flavors that Latinos added to the hip-hop barbecue, the tide slowly ebbed and more Latino rappers appeared in the wake.

This time, however, it wasn’t the Puerto Ricans and Dominicans in New York who would storm the beachhead. Instead, two artists from Los Angeles, Mellow Man Ace, a Cuban rapper who dropped a club-friendly, yet blazing single named “Mentirosa” and Frost, a Mexican brother who released the anthemic “La Raza” in honor of Mexicans in L.A. and Latinos everywhere, forced people to notice that Latinos were most definitely a part of hip-hop.

A major turning point came in 1991, when a three-man group, also from L.A., made their cannabis-scented debut into the hip-hop consciousness. When word spread beyond their hometown that two of the members were Latino—one a Cuban and the other Mexican—Latinos across the atlas lost their minds. Better still, Black kids—and white kids, for that matter—did too, and Cypress Hill racked up platinum sales for both albums that followed their self-titled first.

Centuries after Hernando Cortés, and 550 other Spaniards landed at the Gulf of Mexico in 1519 and eventually wrestled Tenochtitlan (present day Mexico City) from the Aztecs, Mexicans living in what later became the border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California suddenly found themselves foreigners in a land they had been occupying for generations.
The United States, in accordance with the Manifest Destiny-fever that was sweeping the ever-growing countryside, flexed its imperial might and wrestled the above mentioned territories from Mexico. Virtually overnight, what used to be routine travel from one village to another became a trek across an international border, replete with anti-Mexican sentiment on the northern side of the dividing line.

Beginning in 1910, the tension was augmented when the Mexican Revolution caused thousands of political refugees to flee their war-torn country and seek subsistence in the US. In Los Angeles particularly, the urban economy thrived because of this incoming wave of cheap, unskilled laborers, and by 1925, L.A. had the largest population of Mexicans outside of Mexico City.

As could be expected, this new group faced ill feelings and discrimination not only from the white Americans (more commonly known as “Anglos”), but from those Mexican-Americans who’d made their homes in the States before they even were states. Slowly but surely, however, this last group would eventually predominate, and in present day Los Angeles, despite the subtle and not-so-subtle governmental attempts to supress it, one can’t ignore the overwhelming influence of La Raza.

“Out here,” says Julio G, the Mexican/Puerto Rican DJ on L.A.’s 92.3 The Beat, “Mexicans go through our own struggle. We’re right next to Mexico. We’ve got problems with the government, the police. We’ve got the gangs… People want to scream out.”

Offering his opinion of why more militant Latino rappers have come from the West Coast than the East, he doesn’t downplay the existence of similar problems that Latinos in other parts of the country are faced with. And as usually happens whenever different groups in the “minority” don’t recognize the value in combining forces, relations between Blacks and Latinos in Los Angeles are always tense.

“East Los doesn’t really mix with the Blacks,” he says. “A lot of that mentality comes from jail, where it’s automatically segregated, and I don’t want to say that it’s only East L.A. that thinks like that because people think like that all over. But in South Central, it’s different. It’s like a middle ground. You’ve got your Blacks and Latinos in the same community. I’m not trying to make it sound like there’s a race war going on. There’s not. But out here, Mexicans don’t get confused with Blacks. Out there [New York], Puerto Ricans and Blacks are kind of the same mix.”

Widely respected by listeners of both Aztec and African descent, Julio has the ears of the streets tuned in to his #1 rated show every night from 6 to 10, faithfully. And he uses that power to ease some of the tension by bringing about more awareness and understanding between Blacks and Latinos about their respective cultures.

“As a Latino, I want to grow,” he declares. “And I want my people to grow with me. I work at a Black radio station, but since I came in, I’ve done my own shit. I’ll speak Spanish on the air, but I’ve had Tony Muhammad, the Nation of Islam’s Los Angeles minister on the show. I’ve had Rakim on the show talking about the Five Percent. I want to learn about other cultures, so everybody can grow with me.”

When the major media announced last November that the Latino population in the United States now constitutes the largest “minority” in the country, they did so twelve years ahead of schedule. Earlier predictions, based on immigration and childbirth rates, targeted 2010 as the year when the descendants of the African-Arawak-Aztec-Carib-Inca-Maya-Mayari-Pueblo-Siboney-Spaniard-Taino-Yaqui mixture would represent the second largest group in America.
That fact alone is enough proof that the Latino influence on all aspects of cultura Americana—including the one which began when some Black and Latino kids in the Bronx took all their angst and flipped it into new styles of music, dance, art, fashion and writing—will continue to grow and reflect our population numbers. In so doing, Latinos in the US add a little more sabor to an already flavorful pot, thereby re-creating ourselves and our hybrid culture.

Nowadays, one doesn’t need to search too hard to find Latinos—and Latino-isms—in hip-hop. Not only have artists like Fat Joe, Cypress Hill, The Beatnuts and Big Pun gained accolades for their work, but Black artists are finally doing more to acknowledge the Latino presence, as well. From Raekwon’s prolific crime tales chock full o’ Columbians and Dominicans to Puffy’s recent “Señorita” to the Coco Brovas’ “Spanish Harlem,” more and more non-Latinos are giving props to their Spanish-speaking brethren.

Interestingly enough, what may have once been considered a hindrance to a promising career in Rap music is now a boon. Artists like Noreaga, AZ, and Royal Flush—a Puerto Rican, a Dominican and a Cuban who were not readily recognized as Latino—re-affirm their roots proudly, joining others like A.L.T., Power Rule, Funkdoobiest, A Lighter Shade of Brown and Hurricane G, among many others, in the ranks of Latino MCs.

But it doesn’t end there. The top-rated hip-hop radio shows in the two largest markets in the country, New York and Los Angeles, feature DJs Angie Martinez, a Butta Pecan Rican, and Julio G, respectively. The man largely responsible for the successes of Lil’ Kim and Junior M.A.F.I.A. is Lance “Un” Rivera, owner of Undeas and Untertainment Records and a Puerto Rock to the fullest. In all aspects of hip-hop music, whether it be as fans, performers, artists, executives or personalities, Latinos are making their presence felt.

“Number one,” says Tony Touch, a Puerto Rican mix-tape DJ widely known for the Spanish idioms and slang that pepper his tapes, when asked why there’s a re-emergence of all things Latino within Rap, “we’re some fly people, yo. Latinos just got flavor, duke, all around the globe. From our music, to our food, to our women, we just got mad soul in us. And number two is because we’ve always been here, bro. They can’t front on us.”

Nor can anyone front on five hundred years of different peoples clashing, co-existing, co-operating and finally combining. History has taught us that a positive end sometimes outweighs a negative means. Remember, lo que no mata, engorda*.

This is by no means an attempt to absolve the Spanish of their crimes against the indigenous Americans and the Africans, but if not for that fateful day in October of 1492, we would never have gotten to hear Wyclef’s rendition of “Guantanamera” while eating fajitas at a barbecue and sippin’ on a Rum and Coke.

*What doesn’t kill you, will make you fat.

Special thanks to Ivan “DJ Doc” Rodriguez, Gabriel Alvarez and Rigo Morales, for their valuable help and insight.

**originally published many, many moons ago (February 1998), while toiling away on the plantation.**

January 22, 2006



See Part I if you're stranded or confused...

Just adding some new flicks...and I found some crazy shit on the internets about the subject as well...

Thought you knew how to call a CHOLA? Check out this breakdown right here...hope U didn't forget this is HOW DID WE GET FROM THE PYRAMIDS 2 THE PROJECTS, fool. Or do you call 'em JAINAS?

The judge just signed the execution order for Cool C. Remember he used to roll with Steady B? They allegedly robbed a bank and a lady got shot, I think she was a cop... Remind you of anything?

Here's a short op-ed I wrote for STREETS MOS Magazine recently...Mira Ja Una


Either by her man’s side or up against an enemy on her own, a lady gangster has to wear a lot of hats. Back in the days, 1980s L.A., cholas, lady Bloods, Cripettes, pinay, and even female members of car clubs or “bike gangs” often join a set not because they live in a certain ‘hood or even based on being Black, Mexican, Asian…some females join to survive, to have a family in the streets; but many women come in contact with a set, as a member or an associate, or a hoe, because of their man.

Say what you want about Lil’ Kim, I say she’s reppin lady gangsterism to the fullest because she’s taking 366 days in prison rather than run her mouth or snitch. With so many male rappers snitching these days, on the record and on wax, Kim knows what it is to be a lady gangsta, and stick by her man’s side, or her homeboy’s side – whatever the case may be.

Still, it’s important to recognize and laud the lady gangsters who came before we did; and Lil’ Kim embodies the younger generation’s Brooklyn hood legend, the original Queen B. Queen B would rock colorful fur coats with matching wigs, not because she had a photo or video shoot, ‘cause she was a real lady baller doing big things. Like the original 50 Cent, Queen B made her name ring bells through her immaculate hustle game and fame attained moving things.

Some of these chicks out here calling themselves the “first lady” of a clique, crew or record label should think twice before assuming that position. When things went down with The Inc., Ashanti was adamant that she didn’t have anything to do with anything. If she was a for-real down ass chick, she’d have done a skid bid in Downstate Correctional facility and kept it moving. Olivia might be the first lady of G-Unit, but Foxx from M.O.P. is the only first lady of shit I’m seeing in the industry these days.

Peace to the lady O.G.’s in the streets.

PEEP THIS ARTICLE below...explains some of the connections...Street Gangs, Hip Hop, Social Justice, Grassroots Organization, Cholos/Cholas, Music and Entertainment Industry, Youth Upliftment, L.A. ...>

The Pico Youth and Family Center Opens in Santa Monica

By Alejandro A. Alonso Staff writer for Streetgangs.com Magazine January 26, 2002

Santa Monica, CA --Last week on January 19, 2002 The Pico Youth and Family Center (PYFC) was open to the public and the community of Santa Monica after much effort and obstacles.

Oscar de la Torre, the founder and the director of the new center and a long time resident of the Pico Neighborhood in Santa Monica mentioned that "Peace, Community and Social Justice" will be the theme to the new center. The center is open to the local youth between the ages of 16 - 24, and it's focus is towards the low income and troubled youth that are affected by crime and gang pressures in the area.

Oscar de la Torre in his office at the new center

Because the city of Santa Monica has many services for grade school youth, de la Torre set this center to focus on young adults, those that are most vulnerable to street influences. Although Santa Monica and the surrounding areas are primarily affluent communities there is persistent poverty and several gangs in the area, that at times, are involved in serious violent feuds. Santa Monica 13, West LA Sotel 13, Venice 13, and Culver City 13 are among the Latino gangs that have been involved in large scale conflict in recent years that have impacted this community directly. There are also two black gangs in the area, Venice Shore Line Crips located a few miles north of the new center and Grave Yard Crips located just south of the center.

Hip Hop is one of the ways that the center will reach the youth in the community. Inside is a wall with graffiti art.

The violence that plagued the community throughout the years and that hit hard in October of 1998 prompted de la Torre and others to organize a vigil for peace in the Pico Neighborhood. There were five homicides in October of 1998 alone and Santa Monica has seen twenty-two homicides between 1989 - 1998 where a majority has occurred in the Pico Neighborhood. This small community stretches from 16th to 23rd Streets, north of Pico Blvd and includes 94% of Santa Monica's black and Latino population. After three years of advocacy and meetings, community leaders were able to convince the Santa Monica City Council to expand funding to support the PYFC to provide services to the community. A diverse group of community individuals pushed the grass roots effort to fruition after the first initial collaborative failed, but in 2001 they received the support of the City. The city of Santa Monica, which has a $330 million annual budget of which 27% is used for law enforcement, where able to dish out some funding for the new innovative youth center. In June 2001 the youth center received a start up grant for $41,764, then a few days later the City Council approved $318,000.

Art that show the proud history of people of color can be seen in the lobby area. Cesar Chavez, head of the United Farm Workers

The center, aimed at addressing youth gangs and violence prevention, has hours strategically selected to be most effective in the after school and evening hours. The PYFC provides supervised activities from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (Monday - Thursday) and 12:00 pm to 10:00 pm (Friday). The new youth center includes DSL internet connected computers, a tutoring center for the youth to study, and a small recording studio equipped with two turntables and a beat machine. The center also includes a 51-inch screen with Direct TV. But the PYFC also partners with community agencies to provide job development, links college students with high school students, and develops leadership skills with the youth. Through community workshops and conferences, youths will engage in team building, conflict resolution, and cultural awareness. Although the center will provide a variety of technological tools for education, de la Torre states that "its not just about providing services but developing leadership." As a former counselor at Santa Monica High School, de la Torre pledges that counseling is among another of the important services that the PYFC will provide through a partnership with Saint Johns Child and Family Development Center. The main goal with counseling is to provide youth with effective communication tools, to manage anger and to develop more meaningful relationships among peers.

The recording studio is where the youth will learn about music production from trained professionals.

Oscar de la Torre states that this center and others like it can be considered a financial investment for all those that support it because of the potential crime prevention that it will be responsible for. According to research, centers such as the PYFC, can have positive impacts on the community by educating youth, building character and self-esteem, stimulating thought and creativity, and teaching new technology skills. During this process, much time that might be wasted in socializing on the street, dabbling with drugs, interacting with gangs, and coming into contact with law enforcement, and risking incarceration would save the tax payers and the community thousands of dollars every year for every youth that the center can positively impact.

Malcolm X art to recognize the leadership that individuals in the past have possessed.
In addition to the financial support, de la Torre has received much moral support from the community and elected officials. On the opening day those that showed their support included Mike Feinstein the Mayor of Santa Monica, along with Dr. Piedad F. Robertson, the president of Santa Monica College, California State Senator Sheila Kuehl, three City Council members and a school board member. It was the most elected officials that de la Torre had ever seen in one place in Santa Monica in all his years there, but the unfortunate side was that other than STREETGANGS.com, there was no significant media presence to cover this event. Press releases were sent but it did not garner enough publicity to be covered as a relevant event in the community. De la Torre states that the absence of any media coverage "is a testament to the racism that still exists within the media."

Although the Santa Monica City Council has funded the PYFC, that is in partnership with Woodcraft Rangers, a non-profit organization that has been operating for 78 years they are seeking volunteers and any assistance to keep this center open and to ultimately operate independently. To make a tax-deductible donation or to volunteer, call the center at 310-396-7101 or visit the center at 828 Pico Blvd in the City of Santa Monica.

Mr. Alonso can be contacted by email by viewing his extended contact information.

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Finally, an article on Cholos en Espanol...Conseguir un Barra!

Esther López-Portillo

De grupos a grupos

Los cholos forman parte de los grupos de población estadounidense de ascendencia mexicana que residen en Estados Unidos. De acuerdo con ciertas clasificaciones realizadas por investigadores de los grupos migrantes, las personas que se identifican como mexicanos son los recién llegados a Estados Unidos; los que tienen una orientación mexicana son quienes, habiendo nacido en México, han vivido en ese país la mayor parte de su vida por lo que tienden a ser bilingües; los mexicoamericanos nacieron y crecieron hablando inglés; los chicanos forman parte de por lo menos la segunda generación nacida en Estados Unidos pero de origen mexicano, y los cholos representan una identidad que no es mexicana ni americana: su filiación tiene más que ver con el barrio y la pandilla que con un sentido nacionalista, aunque retoman elementos de lo mexicano para elaborar su simbología.

Desde el principio

El movimiento cholo nació en Los Ángeles, California, en la década de los setenta. Hace más de un siglo y medio muchas familias de hispanos, sobre todo mexicanos, comenzaron a emigrar a los Estados Unidos en busca de mejores oportunidades de vida. Al establecerse los grupos de migrantes, principalmente en el sur del país, fueron marginados por amplios sectores de la sociedad norteamericana, principalmente por motivos raciales.

En respuesta a la discriminación surgieron los cholos, como una manifestación de los sectores chicanos y mexicanos. Este movimiento fue motivado por la construcción y afirmación de la identidad individual y de grupo. Así los cholos retomaron diversos símbolos relacionados con imágenes o iconos representativos de la cultura mexicana como la Virgen de Guadalupe, los líderes de la Revolución, elementos de diferentes grupos étnicos del país y símbolos de diversas culturas prehispánicas.

Los vínculos y la simbología se ampliaron paulatinamente porque el grupo encontraba que estos elementos los identificaban y cohesionaban; así el principal referente fue la vestimenta y el lenguaje que, de algún modo, dejaba ver el origen mexicano. Ver comentarios

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