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The Power of Chicano Influence in Rap

As the rap industry gained popularity in the early seventies, originating in the Bronx of Ney York city, it began to spread all over communities influencing its populations. However, what many people overlook about hip hop is that it didn’t originate just by the African American communities; Those of Latino and Caribbean descent played a hand as well in the origin of hip hop (Chang 2005). Even though these people were pivotal in the success of the early days of rap and hip hop, many credit the black community for its popularity, which is not far from the truth due to rap being dominated for generations by young black males. It wasn’t until rap saw new light in the west coast, primarily in Los Angeles, when the industry saw new faces take their chance at this form of poetry. More specifically those of the Chicano and Latin community. A.L.T. states that, “rap became mainstream in 1988,” with the first widely recognized Chicano rap artist, Kid Frost. His hit single “La Raza,” had put Latino artists back on the map. Although Frost later went into electronic music, he paved the way for many non-black, primarily Chicano, artists in the realm of hip hop. Latinos and Chicanos began to integrate many familiar themes of oppression and struggles into their music which followed a familiarity to those of black artists, however they were able to form a deeper connection with those of another culture. Rap was no longer a one culture outlet but a community that welcomed anyone trying to express themselves. Take for example the critically acclaimed group, Cypress Hill, this band of rappers are considered to be among the main progenitors and one of the most successful West Coast rap groups, their music was all too familiar in this community; influenced by “the hood,” gang relations, violence, and drugs, Cypress Hill gained the respect, not just of their listeners, but as well as the other artists in this industry. The multicultural influence of hip hop shows that any one with the right tools and the “sick rhymes,” can be just as successful and influential as those who dominate the industry.

Cypress Hill’s “How I Could Just Kill a Man,” influenced other mexican-american music group Rage Against the Machine’s song by the same name.

Cypress Hill’s “How I Could Just Kill a Man,” influenced other mexican american music group Rage Against the Machine’s song by the same name.

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