The Worst Rap Battle Ever, And Best-Kept Hip-Hop Secret In Town

There's lots of talk about Cypress Hill coming to Houston next Tuesday. But to get that legendary Latin hip-hop/funk sound on a regular basis, you might not have to go farther than La Porte. That's where you'll find a group called Hafaza, made up of mike-wreckers Frank, Omar, Luno, Gonz and Bar Jesus.

Check out their promo video. What we like about these guys is that their music, as well as this video, give us that basement hip-hop feel. Hafaza has to be one of Houston hip-hop's best-kept secrets.

There's something about hip-hop artists that don't look anything like what hip-hop artists are supposed to look like. Some of the guys from Hafaza look like they could be our cable installation guy, tattoo artist, waiter, cousin, or used car salesman. That's not a knock.

Their look combined with their solid music brings an authenticity to hip-hop. Kind of like when we found Preemo. He just doesn't look like commercial hip-hop, but like Hafaza, he can spit good music all day.

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Tejano Ain't Dead; Chingo Bling Puts On His "Lentes"; Flatline Rides For His Block; And The 210 Mic Pass

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How can something be claimed dead when it still has life, when it's still living in speakers, iPods, as well as the hearts and souls of red-blooded American music lovers across the country? When it's still being passed on to younger generations?

In the track "Pimpin' Ain't No Illusion," Pimp C once rapped, "Pimpin aint' dead/ Nigga it just began." A girl pops on and sings, "How the fuck you know Sweet Jones?" To which Pimp C responds, "My hoes out there sellin' ass."

Mama didn't raise no fool. Like Pimp C, we were taught to believe what we see, not the hype. You know what hype is in this scenario? That Tejano is dead.

Tejano ain't dead. How do you know Rocks Off? Because this weekend we saw swarms, hell, seas of tens of thousands of people dropping hundreds of thousands of dollars on brisket, beer and concerts, to watch Tejano acts from across our great state at San Antonio's annual Fiesta celebration, the genre's equivalent to SXSW.

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J-Dawg is HataProof; Lucky Luciano Blows Candles At Zona Latina; Fort Worth Holds it Down for Latino Hip-Hop

Over the weekend, J-Dawg of the Boss Hogg Outlawz paid a visit to Hata Proof Records on the Northside for a CD release signing of his anticipated Behind The Tint, Vol. 2. You'll remember the piece we did on Big Cease and the multi-pronged business model he put together of making, selling, and filming music, as well as his inspiring personal story. Well, Lil Cease, Big Cease's 12-year-old boy seems to be following his footsteps, as he documented the whole thing and edited it himself. At 12 years old, we didn't have a computer.

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Cashville Latino Anthem Makes a Cultural Statement; Dat Boi T Has A "Cracc Flow"

Whether they know it or not, the recently released "Cashville Latino Anthem" music video by the Seis Uno Cinco, ten Latino hip-hop artists out of Nashville (yeah, we said Nashville), could make a bigger statement outside the 615 area code, than the self-proclaimed impact of a "movement that is bound to shake the city."

If you're in tune to population shifts in America, then you know Nashville has been flocked with Latino immigrant families in the last decade, who skipped traditional Hispanic dwellings in California and Texas for the lure of low-cost living and, at one time, a rise in construction that mandated cheap labor, ripe for what the blue-collar Latino immigrant could offer. Pockets of Nashville today look no different than parts of Southeast or Northside Houston, where taquerias and mercados line the strips of the city and where you may never have to speak a lick of English to get by. It's their piece of Mexico or Latin America transplanted into the heart of country music, of all places.

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Chingo Bling's They Can't Deport Us All Makes Good Census; Still Missing Selena

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Our weekend was full of political conversations with folks who we never have political conversations with; let us tell you, we couldn't have been more pleasantly surprised.

We decided we were going to try and convince everyone we knew back home to fill out the census. Three different conversations: one with our mother, who didn't vote in a presidential election until this last historic one - she's now going to participate in this census; one with our grandmother, who had already sent in her census form (jaw-dropping) and another with our boy, David, at a house party. He was another who had already sent in his Census form before we could even get on our soapbox.

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Never have we've seen this type of political awareness in our community. So now that we get to leapfrog that discussion, we can get to immigration reform, an extremely divisive issue and one that Houston hip-hop is no stranger to.

That's right. About three years ago our own Chingo Bling took to America his "They Can't Deport Us All" campaign, that landed him on the covers of major U.S. newspapers and made him the target of fuckheads like Fox News.

We'd like to see this campaign reignited. The video to his track "Like This and Like That" was the musical flag-carrier for the movement. We'd like to see more hip-hop artists in the Latino community incorporate more political content in their lyrics.

As long as they're pro-immigration reform, right Chingo?

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Mayalino's "We Alive Now" Video and Big Dan's "Lentes" Video... Trailer

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Mayalino, your favorite JBlock Street Gang member of Southeast's Magnolia, just released a high-quality video, "We Alive Now," from his Fuck These Wet Wacks album, dropping the third week of April.

"The song is really real to the Mayalino contrast, rebelling against hip-hop rules, rebelling against - amongst rappers - Latinos who gather up in a circle and become best friends, hoping to make it big," Mayalino says about the song. "That song speaks against bullshit rap, weak hip-hop culture, no competition. It's a very powerful song."

"I'm making an album that [intends] to be disrespectful to any Latin artist that's not cool with me and disagrees."

If you want context to what Mayalino is talking about, check out "Behind The Lyrics" piece on him from February.

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BRWN BFLO Is Ballsy; Preemo's Concrete Dreams Passes the Time

"Illegal aliens come from all over the world, not just from the hole in the fence in San Diego." - George Lopez, "Corazon," on BRWN BFLO's self-titled album.

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Rocks Off gets lots of thank-you notes from readers showing their appreciation for giving Latino hip-hop a voice, though we find it odd. We work in PR during the day and we don't send heartfelt notes to journalists thanking them for writing on our clients; we don't think our client's customers do so either. It's an even exchange: "You write on news. We give it to you. Everybody wins."

But give it some context and it makes sense. Today, more than ever, we live in a world of lines - political lines, social lines, economic lines, and racial lines, that separate people into liberal and conservative, pros and antis, rich and poor, black and white. But where's the brown? Where is the voice for a Latino community who aside from its outspoken civil rights leaders, past and present, doesn't like to speak up, engage and fight on civil rights?

We don't know if it's an ingrained humility or complacency with what they have, or an assimilation pattern that's distanced themselves from heritage labels (and they have that right) but from Capitol Hill to the grassroots, we've seen our community pussy out more than once by staying quiet and not vocalizing their plight.

So when someone grabs their nuts and decides to do something about it in their own small way, like maybe write about hip-hop, and draw a line in the sand and say, "It's Latino hip-hop and we need to pay attention to it." People get excited ... and thankful. Yes, we're grouping Latino hip-hop into modern day civil rights. Music's that important to us.

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Monday Mix Bag: Backstage With DJ Flea, Lucky Luciano Protege Lil Koo Puts Freeport on the Map

We're always scouring the Internet for videos that'll help give listeners of hip-hop an appreciation for the work put into making a track, mixtape or album, or provide aspiring artists some helpful hints on how to be successful in the game and have the right mentality going in. We've got a little of both in today's Mix Bag.

DJ Flea gives you a behind-the-scenes look at the making of his Bring It Back mixtape series that's been buzzing the Twitter timelines as of late. You'll remember we spoke to Dat Boi T about the project a few months back. He's been hosting the mixtapes, but this latest one, Bring It Back Pt. 4, is hosted by Lucky Luciano.

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Monday Mix Bag: A Mic Pass In Atlanta, New Felony Video And Some Wal-Mart Confessions

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Back in the day when we were teenagers in the hood, there was this guy with a really great personality who would come to our door once a month with brand new store merchandise. We're talking about anything from bicycles to VCRs (we said it was back in the day) to woman's costume jewelry. They were hot, as in stolen, if you haven't read in between the lines.

We don't know why but when we write the Mix Bag we feel like that guy. We think he worked at Wal-Mart. Poor Wal-Mart, if they only knew how much they got jacked. All of our birthdays and Christmases, we think, came from all their disgruntled stockers. Anyway, we could buy a pair of $100 bikes from him for something ridiculous, like $20. They ended up getting stolen from us a year later so that tells you something about Karma.

We stole a couple things from the YouTube grocery store over the weekend we thought you might like to buy for a cheap discounted rate, or maybe you have a six-pack of beer you might like to trade.

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Mix Bag: Exclusive Mike Pass Sneak Peek, Watch Out For Young Brown N Wreckin

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Harkore (with dreadlocks) and his crew were probably the highlight of our Mike Pass from a hype and energy standpoint. OK, there. You have one of the 16 MCs but you get no more.
Sunday afternoon was an important day for Rocks Off. We put together our first Houston Press Mike Pass, featuring 16 MCs with really diverse styles and from all parts of the city (we'll reveal just who they are soon). We filmed all over downtown Houston for what promises to be a good showing of the city's underground hip-hop scene. The idea was to go into downtown and ride the blood-flow of its veins instead of just admiring its silhouette from afar like most videos do. Downtown lent us its incredible architecture as a backdrop. Thanks, Downtown. Washington Avenue doesn't have shit on you in our book.

David Gaona of Houston's Street Science Management and Joe Yayo of Street's video production subsidiary G Films directed the Houston Press Mike Pass. When we had the idea of doing this project, we talked to Street Science's head of public relations, Jessica Vazquez, about putting together a project of this magnitude and she was all over it and pledged G Films to take on the mike pass.

Check them out because they've probably put together some of your favorite videos. They do everything and anything under the sun, from video production to artist management to Myhoodmusic.com. They work with Coast and Stunta, among others, and have some big things lined up in the coming weeks. More on them in a future "Behind the Lyrics" piece and more on the Houston Press Mike Pass real soon. We just wanted to whet your appetite.

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