Latin hip-hop has been coming up this past decade, and the West Coast produces some of the best artists in the game. But while the industry keeps busy hyping New York rappers with Caribbean ties, groups like Oakland's Los Rakas are keeping independent hip-hop about the community.
Straight out of the turf-dancing, big-glasses hyphy movement, cousins DunDun and Rico are Oakland-raised with deep Panamanian roots. Their sound meshes island rhythms with uptempo hip-hop, hardline rhymes and sexy vocals. Like many Latin rappers, they flow about subjects speaking to the Latino experience, and their bilingual lyricism comes as naturally as rapping over bass-heavy bachata. Even their name is a twist on social norms, reclaiming the diminutive slur "rakataka" as a mark of cultural empowerment.
This summer, Los Rakas release the double-disc El Negrito Dun Dun & Ricardo on their label Soy Raka. If it's anything like the anthems "Kalle" and "Abrazame," it'll mark one more elevating notch in the evolution of underground hip-hop.
Los Rakas open for dancehall king Mr. Vegas on Friday, May 31, at the Mystic Theatre. 21 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma. 9pm. $20–$25. 707.765.2121.