Put your ears to the street and you'll hear it; there's a movement rumbling through San Diego, and the nation. It's got beats, rhymes and life. You've heard it before-but this time you'll notice a different accent, one San Diegans might associate with Banda or Norteño.
Spanish rap is here, homey. Odele!
"We decided that [the Latin rap and Reggaeton' industry] was growing so fast that we needed to have a forum or venue for everybody involved-artists, [record] labels, producers, managers-to get together and basically network and build off each other's success," explains Jesse Perez of River Bottom Entertainment.
Perez and DJ Rags are organizing the Second Annual Latin Rap Conference, held February 1-3 at Harrah's Rincon Casino, just outside San Diego. The event will feature panels of industry experts during the day and nightly performances by well-respected Latin rappers like Mellow Ace, Immortal Technique and San Diego's own Mr. Lil' One.
Latin rap has been pioneered over the last decade by the likes of Kid Frost, Lighter Shade of Brown and Big Punisher. That movement has intensified, demanding specialty radio shows in cities such as L.A. and New York. Specialty show "Pocos Pero Locos," broadcast on L.A.'s Power 106 on Sunday nights, has drawn huge listener support. In San Diego, local artists like Mr. Lil' One have sold thousands of records andpalyed sold-out shows, including last year's Latin Rap Fest.
The new genre known as Reggaeton' is also gaining a sizeable following in local clubs and national radio waves. Spawned from Puerto Rico's steamy club culture, Reggaeton' is a spin-off of Jamaican dancehall reggae. Both are marked by intense drum-machine beats geared for shaking sexy extremities in crowded nightspots. But Reggaeton' is usually sung, or rapped, in Spanish or a mixture of Spanish and English, as opposed to dancehall's more familiar Jamaican patois. Urban radio hits such as Pitbull's "Culo" and NORE f. Tego Calderon's "Gasolina" have had huge crossover success, forging a growth industry.
"Last year the conference was a huge success," says Perez. "Attendees were of a very high caliber. Everybody at the conference is artists, producers, managers and so on. You know that everybody you're networking and exchanging cards and shaking hands with is in the industry.
"We made so much noise last year, we have a lot of even higher profile [artists] attending this year. The Source magazine is coming out this year. We will also have representatives from Universal Records, Shady Records and Goliath Entertainment."
Latin Rap is what's up, this year. Oye!
Visit the Latin Rap Conference Feb. 1-3 at Harrah's Rincon Casino in Valley Center. www.latinrapconference.com.