Los Rakas have boldly forged a new lane in Latin alternative music with their distinctive “Panabay” sound by fusing hip-hop, reggaeton and Afro-Latino rhythms in Spanglish. They perform Friday, Aug. 22 at the House of Blues and are likely to steal the show from its headliner, Tribal Theory, with their sky-high, energetic live showmanship that will have you chanting, "Soy Raka!"
Cousins Raka Dun (Panamanian) Raka Rich (Panamanian-American), are known for their rock-the-party-get-the-girl anthems with songs like, "Ta Lista," and "Bien Ribetiao." This time around, Los Rakas are penning their U.S. Afro-Latino experiences over club-friendly beats with their new album, "El Negrito Dun Dun & Ricardo." To alleviate any confusion for new and old fans alike, it's the Latin alternative version to OutKasts’ "Speakerboxx/The Love Below."
The album showcases Raka Dun's intelligent hoodlum side as heard on "Mi Pais," and “Chica de Mi Corazon.” At first read, you'd think the latter is a song about some P.Y.T. (pretty, young thing), but he completely surprises the listener when he raps about the emotional battles of not being able to visit his mother back in Panama due to his undocumented immigrant status. On the other side, we meet Ricardo, the suave sentimental side of Raka Rich, with "Siente La Musica," a song that emanates with the richness of Chicago's house music genre. NPR Latino says the album, "marks an ambitious step forward in their career."
For the first time, we hear millenial rappers walk away from decadent bling lyricsm to being soulful griots of the inner-city with a Panabay twist. It's like they're Tego Calderon, Gil Scott-Heron, Nas and Marvin Gaye rolled into one; just take a listen to their "Black is Beautiful" message track, "Africana." If the intention of "El Negrito Dun Dun & Ricardo" was to set itself apart and break mythical stereotypes of the U.S. Afro-Latino, then it did its job.
Dita Quinones is a multimedia journalist born in Tijuana with a passion for Latin alternative and hip-hop music news. Her main goal is to uplift and inform so that the Latino, Filipino and hip-hop community get knitted into the fabric of American history. In addition to SoundDiego, she contributes to Latina, Fox News Latino, Poder, VidaVibrante, San Diego CityBeat and HipHopDx. She is also the founder of the infamous music and politrix blog GN$F! Follow Dita on Twitter or on Facebook.