Torii MacAdams gets his chops at Chalio’s
Rap fans think South Central is solely black. It’s not their fault. The area’s image is inextricable from Ice-T, Kurupt (actually from Philadelphia), WC, Ras Kass, ScHoolboy Q, and Nipsey Hussle,* all black men. The truth about South Central is that the area has, through a complex series of events, been dominated by whites, blacks, and Latinos in relatively recent history.
In the early 1990’s, as much of Los Angeles was in the throes of widespread demographic shifts, Eazy-E had the foresight to sign Brownside, a Chicano group in the mold of NWA. Brownside, who repped East South Central’s Eastside Trece gang, never released their debut album on Ruthless Records, reportedly due to Eazy-E’s untimely death. Twenty years later, Andre Martel’s video for “Border” shows us the East South Central that Brownside never quite got a chance to portray.
The Brownside comparison is a bit unfair to Martel–while Brownside were primarily concerned with gangbanging, and used ample Chicano slang, “Border” is about the consistent, life-threatening struggles of Mexican immigrants. Rather than stereotypical shots of homies in Ben Davis and Dickies, “Border” shows the swap meets, carnicerias, soccer games, barbecues, and astroturf front yards of Martel’s neighborhood. Despite Los Angeles’ massive Mexican population, their experiences remain significantly underrepresented in rap music–Andre Martel is changing that. And if you don’t think Chicanos can rap? That’s your fault.
*And a long history of great jazz musicians