Chicano rap is a subgenre of hip hop that embodies aspects of the Mexican American or Chicano culture.


Early years

The first recognized Chicano rap album was the 1990 debut album Hispanic Causing Panic by Kid Frost;[1] the album's lead single, "La Raza", which combined East L.A. and Tex-Mex elements, was a hit song and became an "East L.A. anthem.[2] His success brought attention to Chicano rappers on the West Coast.[3]


In 1990, A.L.T. released the album Another Latin Timebomb, featuring his hit remake of the song "Tequila". In 1990, the Chicano hip hop group A Lighter Shade of Brown released their album Brown & Proud,[4] which included hits "On a Sunday Afternoon" (a top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100) and "Latin Active". Rap group Cypress Hill (One Cuban, One Puerto Rican), would sometimes use popular Chicano slang and culture in their music and videos.  The lead rapper, B-Real, was of Mexican descent. Cypress Hill has also collaborated with another Chicano group, Psycho Realm. Chicano rap derives from American rap which bases its music on drum beats, jazz music, and bass amongst others. Early influences for Chicano rap include "oldies", funk music and later incorporated conjunto and banda.[5] Stemming from a long culture of mestizaje, Chicano rap uses samples from a wide range of music. Chicano can differentiate itself by sometimes having acoustic guitars playing Spanish melodies in the background or intros with Mexican regional music beats. Chicano Rap can be distinguished by sometimes having both English and Spanish verses. Some of the common themes within Chicano rap include but are not limited to: Love, experiences of being Mexican in the United States of America, Political problems, inequality, but also drug usage and money.[1] Chicano rap often include narratives that include gang violence and life in the varrio, by using lyrics in 'Spanglish', Chicano rap embraces the reality of being Mexican-American.[6]

During the late 1980s and 90s Chicano rap was brought by artist who shared their personal experiences through their lyrics.[6]

In the mid-1990s, Eazy-E formed the group Brownside. Consisting of members Wicked, Klever, and Trouble, Brownside was essentially the Chicano equivalent of N.W.A.[7]  Drawing their experiences in society into their music, Brownside illustrated the harsh realities of life and the Chicano experience.

During the 1990s, some Chicano rappers such as Sinful of the Mexicanz began using influences from Mexican music in their beats and delivery, although this subgenre of music is sometimes referred to today as "urban regional" and not always representative of Chicano rap.[8][9] The hip hop group Akwid also combines traditional Mexican regional music with hip hop vocals.

Starting from the release of his 1995 album, Smile Now, Die Later, Kid Frost began to include the issues of immigration and drug trafficking related to the US-Mexico border by incorporating the sound of narcocorridos into his raps, further establishing the connection between Mexican folk music and Chicano rap.[6]

2000s - present

Thump Records, Urban Kings Music and Low Profile Records introduced new Chicano rap artists. New artists include Ms Krazie,[10] Knight Owl,[11] Chino Grande,[12] and Mr. Sancho.[13] Charlie Row Campo released "Stop Studio Gangstas" album in 2007.[14] One of the most widely recognized Chicano rappers today is Lil Rob of San Diego, his album "Natural High/High Till I Die" sold 90,000 copies[15] and his single "Summer Nights" was considered a major crossover and received heavy rotation on radio stations and video programs not directly related to Chicano rap music.[16] This widely successful artist has recently reappeared in the limelight, with the song Summer Nights being used in TikTok trends, and even being sampled in Destiny Roger's 2022 hit by the same name.[17]

Frank V. of Proper Dos & Conejo & Serio in 2012

Another widely known Chicano rapper is Serio of Los Angeles, with his 2012 single "Don't Hate Me Because I'm Mexican" featuring Proper Dos and Conejo, a controversial song that called for immigration reform.[18][19][20]

A Chicano rap scene has also begun to emerge in Texas. Prominent Texan artists in the genre include South Park Mexican (SPM) and Dope House Records.[21] SPM's sound includes influences similarly seen in the scene of West Coast Chicano rap: Latin beats, gangsta narratives, and G-Funk, however SPM differentiates itself by including sounds and vocabulary unique to the Houston hip hop scene with the newly added influence of corporate rap.[1]

Many Chicano rappers have been heavily influenced by Mexican history, including many themes relevant to the Mexican and Chicano people living in the United States and Mexico.[22] Chicano rap is mainly enjoyed by hip hop listeners in the United States, but also has established a cult fan base in Australia and the Philippines. Its main audience, however, consists of Hispanics/Latinos living on the West Coast, the Southwest, and the Midwest. Chicano culture has even reached Japan,[23] where a small minority dresses in flannels and baggy pants, drives lowriders, and listens to Chicano rap. The Chicano rap style and culture's introduction in Japan can be attributed to Mexican-American soldiers stationed in Japan.[24] Although there have been some concerns over cultural appropriation between these outcroppings of Chicano-style culture in other countries, comments under YouTube videos and reviews of music made by non-Chicanos has generally been positive. Many Chicanos choose to look at this outcropping as a sort of appreciation of their culture, rather than appropriation. Chicano rap's ability to reach large audiences without mainstream airplay or media promotion is due largely in part to nationwide lowrider car tours and their accompanying concerts headlined by Chicano rappers.[25] This environment allows Chicano rap artists to earn significant incomes through independent label releases while promoting directly to a target audience.[26]

Chicano rap labels

See also


  1. ^ a b c McFarland, Pancho (2006). "Chicano Rap Roots: Black-Brown Cultural Exchange and the Making of a Genre". Callaloo. 29 (3): 939–955. doi:10.1353/cal.2006.0150. ISSN 0161-2492. JSTOR 4488380. S2CID 161769104.
  2. ^ Gold, Jonathan (August 20, 1990). "Weekend Reviews Kid Frost: Political Rap for Chicano Solidarity Pop music: His hit 'La Raza' is the first popular East L.A. anthem in years". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 281058443.
  3. ^ "Bad Subjects Magazine – "Hyper-Masculine and Misogynist Violence in Chicano Rap"". Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2007-06-29.
  4. ^ Henderson, Alex. "Brown & Proud - Lighter Shade of Brown Songs, Reviews, Credits AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  5. ^ McFarland, Pancho (2008-01-01). "Chicano Hip-Hop as Interethnic Contact Zone". Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies. 33 (1): 173–183.
  6. ^ a b c Mausfeld, Dianne Violeta (2019). "'These stories have to be told': Chicano rap as historical source". Popular Music History. 12 (2): 174–193. doi:10.1558/pomh.39209. ISSN 1743-1646. S2CID 225900686.
  7. ^ Allah, Sha Be (2018-10-17). "The Source |Toker Of Eazy-E's group Brownside Passed Away At 51". The Source. Retrieved 2022-12-02.
  8. ^ Low Life – "Kemo The Blaxican – Simple Plan CD" Archived 2007-08-17 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ – "JAE-P, Urban Regional Movement's Poet" Archived November 29, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Ms Krazie AllMusic Retrieved 8 June 2023
  11. ^ Birchmeier, Jason. "Knightowl – Artist Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 June 2023.
  12. ^ Chino Grande
  13. ^ Mr. Sancho AllMusic. 15 May 2024
  14. ^ Charlie Row Campo AllMusic. 17 July 2023
  15. ^ Shirley, Jessica (Nov 2003). "The Album". Teen Ink. p. 48.
  16. ^ Latin Hip Hop Interview – "Lil Rob's Summer Nights"
  17. ^ "Destiny Rogers's 'Summer Nights' - Discover the Sample Source". WhoSampled. Retrieved 2022-11-08.
  18. ^ "Rapper Conejo extradited from Mexico on murder charges after 14 years on the lam". Fox News. 2016-12-06. Retrieved 2024-04-04.
  19. ^ "Serio bio". MTV. Archived from the original on January 16, 2013. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  20. ^ "Serio Dont Hate Me Because Im Mexican". CD Baby. Archived from the original on February 26, 2018. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  21. ^ Ali, Lorraine. "Lone Star Rap". Newsweek. p. 72. Retrieved May 10, 2022.
  22. ^ Lil Rob Interview – "Lil Rob Represents Brown Pride"
  23. ^ "Inside Japan's Chicano Subculture". The California-Mexico Studies Center, Inc. Retrieved 2022-10-27.
  24. ^ Helland, Kristin I. (June 2018). "Mona AKA Sad Girl: A multilingual multimodal critical discourse analysis of music videos of a Japanese Chicana rap artist". Discourse, Context & Media. 23: 25–40. doi:10.1016/j.dcm.2017.09.004. ISSN 2211-6958. S2CID 149190164.
  25. ^ – "Brown Town Looters"
  26. ^ Sfetcu, Nicolae (2021). The Music Sound. Google: Multimedia Publishing. ISBN 978-606-033-610-5.