Latin hip-hop
Stylistic origins Hip-Hop music, Latin music
Cultural origins
Typical instruments
Mainstream popularity

Latin hip hop or Latin rap is hip hop music recorded by artists of Latin American and Iberian (Spain and Portugal) origin.

Early Latinos in hip hop musicEdit

According to B.Boy Omega, a writer for The Source, the first Latino in hip hop music was DJ Disco Wiz (dj), a product of a Puerto Rican father and a Cuban mother who was born in The Bronx. DJ Disco Wiz, along with Casanova Fly (Grandmaster Caz), formed the pioneering Mighty Force Crew from 183rd Street and Valentine Avenue in the mid-1970s. Later on they both were joined by the first Latino MC Prince Whipper Whip, a Puerto Rican[citation needed]. Whip, unlike Wiz was exclusively an MC. Casanova Fly (Grandmaster Caz) would rap and DJ at the same time.

Since hip hop was experienced primarily via audio and not by video, most people never knew that DJ Disco Wiz was Puerto Rican and Cuban until they saw him. As explained by Kevie Kev in the book Yes Yes Yall, Prince Whipper Whip felt it necessary to keep his Afro-Puerto Rican background a secret in order to gain more positive acceptance. The audience perception of Whip as a Black-American made Rubie Dee the first public Puerto Rican MC according to the book. After DJ Disco Wiz, the second Puerto Rican DJ was an ex-salsa bassist turned DJ named Charlie Chase, who became the DJ along with DJ Tony Tone for the Cold Crush Brothers.

Another early rap group with all Latino members was La Familia, formed in 1980. La Familia member Roski began rapping live entirely in Spanish in 1981. He is consider the first spanish M.C.

In 1981 a group called The Mean Machine released a 12" single on Sugar Hill Records called "Disco Dream" which was the first rap record to emphasize Spanglish.[citation needed] In the same year The Sugar Hill Gang featured a solo by Tito Puente on "The Sugar Hill Groove". DJ and producer Tony Touch also mentions (in an interview on the track "Spanglish" by Spanish Fly & The Terrible 2, came out in the same year on Enjoy Records but was not as well known.

In the early to mid-1980s quite a few Latin-Caribbean rappers and DJ's hit the scene. Producer and DJ Master OC and The Devastating Tito were both a part of The Fearless Four[citation needed]. The Master OC was also the producer of another crew named The Fantasy 3 which featured another Puerto Rican MC named Charlie Rock. Both of these crews were from Harlem. Out of the East New York section of Brooklyn came Prince Markie Dee of The Fat Boys, who later went on to produce Mary J. Blige; and Wise, the beat box from Stetsasonic. Both were Puerto Rican; as was Super Lover Cee from the Astoria Projects in Queens. Like Whipper Whip; Markie, Wise and Super Lover Cee's ethnic heritage was not that well known. Other lesser known MCs and DJs included Johnny Rock, DJ Candido, DJ Muscle and DJ Shiz(today known as B.Boy Omega) who were all Puerto Ricans from The Bronx, while Mr. L of the TDR crew was half Puerto Rican and half Dominican. DJ Dr. Dust along with his DJ partner and cousin DJ Duran from the Bronx are considered to be the first Dominican DJs in Hip-Hop (documented in The BX Factor magazine in 1996). Of Brazilian heritage, Breez Evahflowin from the Hell's Kitchen section of Manhattan, and is most famous as a member of the Stronghold Crew is the first MC in hip hop with parents from Brazil.

Latin rap on the West CoastEdit

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, most Latin rap came from the West Coast of the United States. Cuban-American artist Mellow Man Ace was the first Latino artist to have a major bilingual single attached to his 1989 debut. Mellow Man, referred to as the "Godfather of Latin rap" and a Hip Hop Hall of Fame inductee, brought mainstream attention to Spanglish rhyming with his 1989 platinum single "Mentirosa". In 1990, fellow West Coast artist Kid Frost further brought Latinos to the rap forefront with his single "La Raza." In 1991, Kid Frost, Mellow Man, A.L.T. and several other Latin rappers formed the rap super group Latin Alliance and released a self-titled album which featured the hit "Lowrider (On the Boulevard)". A.L.T. also scored a hit later that year with his remake of the song Tequila. Cypress Hill, of which Mellow Man Ace was a member before going solo, would become the first Latino rap group to reach platinum status in 1991. The group has since continued to release other gold and platinum albums. Ecuadorian born rapper Gerardo received heavy rotation on video and radio for his single "Rico, Suave". While commercially watered-down, his album enjoyed a status of being one of the first mainstream Spanglish CDs on the market. Johnny J was a multi-platinum songwriter, music producer & rapper who was perhaps best known for his production on Tupac Shakur's albums All Eyez on Me and Me Against the World. He also produced the 1990 single "Knockin' Boots" for his classmate Candyman's album Ain't No Shame in My Game, which eventually went platinum thanks to the single.

Latin rap in the East Coast and MiamiEdit

On the East Coast, Latin artists such as the Beatnuts emerged in the early 1990s, with New Jersey native Chino XL earning recognition for his lyricism and equal controversy for his subject matter. In 1994, Platinum Producer and DJ Frankie Cutlass used his own label, Hoody Records, to produce his single “Puerto Rico”. The single exploded onto the underground club circuit to become an instant classic. “Puerto Rico,” a ready-made anthem for the Latino audience—who embraced it enthusiastically—paved the way for Latin Hip Hop artists just starting to carve out a niche in America’s music scene. In the late 1990s, Puerto Rican rapper Big Punisher became the first Latino solo artist to reach platinum sales for an LP with his debut album Capital Punishment, which included hit song Still Not a Player. Other Latin artists on the East Coast would follow and receive a great deal of support from Latino consumers including rappers such as Cuban Link and Immortal Technique. In Miami artists such as Don Dinero, A.B. Junior and Pitbull have been successful with rhymes in Spanish and English as well.

Southwest and Chicano rapEdit

Latin rap (as well as its subgenre of [[Chicano rap]) has thrived along the West Coast, Southwest and Midwestern states with little promotion due to the large Latino populations of those regions. During the '90s Southern California Chicano artists, such as Kid Frost, A.L.T., A Lighter Shade of Brown, B-Real, Psycho Realm, and Delinquent Habits received mainstream success. More recently, Texas artists such as Chingo Bling, Juan Gotti and South Park Mexican have enjoyed steady sales, and have headlined a number of successful Southwest tours. San Diego artist Lil Rob opened doors for Chicano Rap by receiving mainstream attention for his singles "Summer Nights", and "Bring Out the Freak in You". Mav of Sol Camp and MC Magic are the most successful rappers to come out to the Southwest region. Baby Bash also had a huge impact with his single "Suga Suga". Artists Sinful of Tha Mexicanz, and Kemo the Blaxican have continued to improve the popularity of Spanglish rap on the West Coast.

Urban RegionalEdit

In recent years the term "urban regional" was coined to refer to Spanish rap performed over beats infused with the sounds and melodies from popular Mexican music styles such as banda, cumbia, norteño and others. Akwid, Jae-P, Crooked Stilo, Mexiclan, Kalimen and David Rolas are among the most popular urban regional artists.

Latin rap around the worldEdit

The constant migration of people from one country to another has greatly influenced the dispersion of cultures and music across the globe. In the music realm, this can be heard with and Latin rap. The latter form of music has been a hit especially in countries with a large number of migrators to the United States who were only popular among Hispanic and Latino audiences. For example, Mexico has a growing hip hop scene with groups such as Control Machete, Cartel De Santa, and Molotov. Similarly, the movement has spread to Puerto Rico, a country where many of its residents have moved to New York, Miami and Chicago over the years. Latin rap which was very much derived from black hip hop was jumpstarted by a wave of rappers that included Ruben DJ and Vico C. Ruben DJ's hit, La Escuela, (The School) and Vico C's hit, La Recta Final, (The End of the Road) received considerable radio time during the late 1980s. In addition to Latin rap in Puerto Rico developing after African American hip-hop, and rap and reggae have a substantial impact on the genres (rap, and Latin rap) relate a certain message to their respective audiences. Puerto Rican rap emerged as a form of cultural and social protest within the Puerto Rican context. This is similar to the way American and Jamaican youth used rap and reggae/dancehall as a means to communicate their feelings on social, cultural, and political issues. In essence, Puerto Rican rap became the voice of Puerto Rican youth like dancehall and rap music are methods of expression for their Jamaican and lower-class U.S. youth counterparts as they made it in France too since 2003 "1492 Army".

Latin rap has also surfaced in the UK with a group called Cultura Londres who list Eric Bobo of Cypress Hill as one of their members, as well as in Australia with Maya Jupiter. Even though no one has ever heard of these groups and they were not popular. This list includes N.O.R.E., Lloyd Banks, Kane & Abel.


Main article: Freestyle music

In the mid-1980s, freestyle music was initially called Latin hip hop. This dance music genre, not to be confused with improvised freestyle rapping, was dominated, at the time, by electro funk beats and vaguely Latin melodic and percussion elements, over which Latino vocalists sang melodramatic pop vocals, usually in English even though it was started by African-Americans primarily. Freestyle was primarily popular among Latinos in the New York City and Miami club scenes, but achieved mainstream pop success with hits by The Cover Girls and Exposé, among others.


See AlsoEdit

Template:Latin hip-hop

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