The 2010 Census Launches the Latino Underground Into the Mainstream; Other Bold Predictions for the Coming Decade

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Will Lil Young be one of this decade's breakout Latino rap stars?

Can Latino hip-hop in Houston continue to thrive as a black-market force, of sorts, whose sales are invisible to the IRS, and evolve into a powerful underground economy without the acknowledgement or praise of mainstream music media like Rolling Stone or XXL magazines? Or without the support of major music labels? Yes, it can, and it will.

But, will hip-hop created by Latino musicians be limited to just that: the underground? No, it won't. It'll be more than that.

By the time we are all through making fun of each other for thinking the world was going to end in 2012, Latino hip-hop won't be that underground at all. In fact, sometime during the next ten years, it will elevate to the mainstream, an evolution that will start in Houston. Yeah, we said it. Houston's Latino underground will be the discovery point where major labels congregate to find their next cash cow. They'll study and analyze this group of Latino rappers with the fascination of an archeologist who's discovered a new dinosaur fossil.

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Coast could be bigger than Young Jeezy if the labels give him a chance.
Major labels will come to our city and find the good and marketable ones, like Coast, and realize that their following reaches far beyond our city limits, into places like South Dakota, Arkansas, Colorado and Arizona, and they'll be spellbound by it. They'll go to those states and find that Latino youth in those regions, whose population and buying power are skyrocketing by the month, look and talk like Latino youth in Houston, not like the cholos in California, and then they'll discover that the reason they mirror Houston is because our city's hip-hop culture is strongly influencing theirs, and that the age of digital downloads and MySpace music profiles has virtually evaporated the miles that once separated Hispanic hip-hop followers nationwide.

They'll discover a new, great musical market off which they can make money - fans who would buy more Coast than Young Jeezy, if given the even-playing-field-chance, and they'll, in turn, show Latino hip-hop artists the money. They'll invest in their music with beats composed by the best, fancy photo shoots and sharp-talking publicists.

They'll influence radio spins, and when they're done with the few that are good enough to have natural success, they'll take the mediocre ones and do what they did to Britney Spears and Lindsey Lohan: pretty them up and force-feed the consumer market until they shit artificial success.

All of this is going to happen because of the 2010 Census, which is more about defining congressional districts for politicians and carving out new consumer markets for corporate executives than about counting all the people in America. When the 2000 Census came out, it really took the following ten years to get people, who weren't Hispanic, to truly understand the cultural dynamics of the initial 38-something million people who were suddenly discovered in this country at the turn of the century... and who, for the sake of sanity and bureaucratic efficiency, needed to be categorized under one label - Hispanic - despite widespread differences in Spanish dialect and hemispheric roots.

And instead of concentrating on the ones who spoke English, preferred English media, were Americanized and have called America home for years, Corporate America's marketing experts created complicated acculturation scales that made the Hispanic community look like a kaleidoscope, which it is. So it scared people, especially those in the media, and it just became easier to focus on a smaller percentage of them that "crossed borders illegally, stole jobs, committed crimes and spoke only Spanish."

So, for the most part, Hispanics like the ones who read this Rocks Off blog were largely ignored by corporate Hispanic marketing or were falsely put into a group that reads Univision.com and follows the Mexican national soccer team more than they do the Houston Texans. And it impacted the products Corporate America produced, which in musical terms; their choices were T.I. or Los Tigres del Norte - no middle, no relevance.

You're thinking, "What does this have to do with Latino rappers getting a shot at the big stage?"

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