By Ariana Mendoza
Hip-hop has always been a melting pot of cultures, voices, and experiences. Latinx artists have always been making significant impacts in the world of hip-hop. By challenging stereotypes and pushing for greater Latin representation in the industry. Latinx culture has transformed, reinvented, and birthed the hip-hop genre. Of course, the genre is a product of African American culture, but it is also Afro-Caribbean and Latino too. Let us explore the many ways in which Latinx artists have contributed to the hip-hop landscape.
Back in the Bronx of New York City 50 years ago, Clive Campbell aka “DJ Kool Herc”, a Jamaican American, held a dance party called Back to School Jam. This is where the genre was first born. He created a fresh style of music that influenced many to take part in the movement happening in the 1970s. Luis Cedeño, aka DJ Disco Wiz, is of Puerto Rican and Cuban descent. He was born in the Bronx and was influenced by DJ Kool Herc’s new musical taste. DJ Disco Wiz formed the group Mighty Force with his best friend, Casanova Fly. They held DJ battles and presented the first Latino rapper, Prince Whipper Whip. Prince Whipper Whip was also in the hip-hop group Grandwizard Theodore and the Fantastic Five, with the first Puerto Rican woman MC, Ruby Dee. These artists are known as some of the ‘Founding Fathers’ of hip-hop, who mostly come from Latinx descent.
The hardships all minorities faced during this period brought this community together. Many groups, organizations, and communities were formed just for the love of the art. In the 1970s, Afrika Bambaataa formed what is now known as the Universal Zulu Nation. This organization was for the people of hip-hop and break dancing, who were mostly Africans and Latinos. These block parties and communities built a new wave of creativity and groundbreaking music.
In the 1990s, we continued to see popular Latinx rappers and MCs on the scene. Arturo Molina, better known as Kid Frost, is a rapper and producer from Los Angeles with Mexican ancestry. His first four albums all charted during the 1990s and reentered the Billboard 200 in 2002. Kid Frost’s song ‘La Raza’ is what many lovers of the genre call a ‘Hip-Hop Classic.’ He was also a part of the Latin Alliance, the first Latino-American hip-hop rap group. A.L.T., Mellow Man Ace, and many more Latinx artists are featured in this one-time collaboration, peaking on the Billboard 200.
Today, Latin influence in the hip-hop scene is no different and even bigger than ever. Artists like Bad Bunny and Cardi B have incorporated Latin genres into their music. Although, even with language barriers because of the English dominance in the genre, many Latinx musicians still make the effort to include their native language in their creations. With artists like Snow Tha Product, who raps in Spanish effortlessly in their music we can witness first-time accomplishments from Latinos. Just earlier this year, Bad Bunny won the Best Música Urbana Album for ‘Un Verano Sin Ti’ and was the first all-Spanish opening act at the 65th Grammy Awards.
Hip-hop is the genre where artists use music to express their cultural roots and social issues. It celebrates breaking barriers and creating communities. By exploring Latinx representation in hip-hop, we highlight the dynamic of Latin culture and express our love for it.
Written by: Danielle De Lucia