Thursday, November 18, 2004


  I’m tired of being overlooked.  It hasn’t always bothered me, but lately it has really gotten under my skin.

  I’m sure we all have our stories about someone, somewhere not knowing that New Mexico is one of our fifty United States.  “Oh, your English is very good,” they’ll say.  I have received music in the mail from New York with customs documentation, citing the United States as the country of origin. 

  Always the quiet neighbors, it’s easy for people to forget that we’re here (unless John Walsh reminds them).  And I think it’s time to start making a little noise. 

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  An acquaintance of mine recently said that Hip-Hop has become the new Rock and Roll.  Like it or not, this doesn’t seem far from the truth.  It has been 24 years since the Sugarhill Gang hit the charts with “Rapper’s Delight,” and 22 years since Grand Master Flash’s “The Message.”  In terms of credibility and staying power, Hip-Hop is not a passing fancy; it is a force to be reckoned with.

  Hip-Hop is more than the music of the streets, it’s life on the streets.  Not since The Blues have we seen a genre of music so intertwined in a lifestyle.  Okay, the surfing music of the Sixties comes close, and it was Fun Fun Fun while it lasted, but that safari didn’t last long.  

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  It’s not just the Land of Enchantment that’s left out of the Hip-Hop equation, it’s the entire Southwest.  The East Coast is well represented.  The West Coast is well represented.  And the “Dirty South” is well represented.  But the area between San Antonio and San Diego, from El Paso to Denver, is generally ignored by Hip-Hop magazines like Vibe and The Source. 

  In recent history, there have been a few hotbeds for Hip-Hop: New York, L.A., and Atlanta.  With the popularity of Reggaeton on the rise, Miami is now breaking out as a breeding ground for hot new talent.  (Reggaeton is a mix of Reggae, Salsa & Hip-Hop, with lyrics that alternate from Spanish to English, and back again.)

  Chicano Hip-Hop flourishes in this area, and while it is covered in mags like Lowrider and Street Customs, music magazines pay little attention to the Latin rap game.  National artists like Baby Bash, Gemini, NB Ridaz and Lil’ Rob—many of whom have recording contracts with national labels—get virtually no love from the national media.  And that needs to change.

  Furthermore, these artists have enormous followings.  The market is ripe and should be tapped. 

  I’m afraid I don’t have any answers.  You don’t have to be a Hip-Hop fan to get the feeling that we are forgotten.  We need to find a way to work the threads of the Southwest into the fabric of American Pop-Culture.

 -From Pulse
   November 18, 2004