Speak Raps For La Raza This Weekend at Viva Pomona

To rap or not to rap, that is the question.
To rap or not to rap, that is the question.
Anthony Thompson

Viva Pomona returns to The Glass House this weekend for its annual mission to showcase the best local up-and-coming musicians as well as international artists pushing the sounds of Latin music to new heights—with the after party likely being at Taqueria De Anda, cuz you know it always is.

Speak, who's real name is Anthony Negrete, previously played Viva Pomona in 2014 and returns to the festival on Sunday to perform his brand of animated rap infused with Spanglish rhymes and consistent shout outs to la raza—undoubtedly influenced by his recent move from SoCal to Mexico City’s Distrito Federal.

Speak praises Viva Pomona for its eclectic lineup and for founder Reneé Contreras’ effort to book acts that cater to the strong Latino culture in Pomona and surrounding cities. "It’s like the affirmation of the music scene in California” Speak says, “You look at all these talented Latinos and look at all the cool shit they’re making like, 'Yo, we’re a factor'."

So what can one expect at Speak’s set this Sunday in Pomona? Well, on Wednesday night at Lincoln Height’s Low End Theory, Speak's DJ cut Mexican rancheras and Selena's "Como la Flor" with trap-esque beats leaving the hip Low End crowd taken back by the mash-up of Latin jams and hip-hop. Then Speak hit the stage with high-octane rap bravado and unapologetic Mexican-American pride which ignited fans to jump around and even get down cumbia style. This expertly crafted fusion of Mexican and hip-hop culture is a breath of fresh air to American Latino hip-hop heads who previously only saw their culture represented in Chicano rap or The Cypher Effect underground scene.

Hair god vibes.
Hair god vibes.
Alexander Vieria

Speak says his recent move to Mexico City was brought on not only by his desire to experience his father's hometown but also by a horrible event last year where he witnessed a homeless man die on the streets of Downtown L.A. while upscale residents carelessly walked by. It was the last straw of Los Angeles' waging class war for Speak,  "They're literally building skyscrapers on top of poor people," he says.

A Red Bull Sound Select gig in Mexico also unveiled a more prosperous market for the Latino rapper as major publications such as Remezcla, Nylon México, Vice México and Rolling Stone México took notice of Speak’s music. "I wasn't getting that type of coverage in the United States." he says.

Now, almost a year since uprooting, Speak has helped form Mexico City's first monthly hip-hop party—cleverly named "Down in the D.F.", teaches music production workshops for Mexican youth, and started collaborating with Mexican musicians such as Los Blenders and Vaya Futuro—who will also be performing this weekend at Viva Pomona.

Yet before moving to Mexico Speak repped East Los, Moreno Valley and even Fullerton. He shares with the Weekly that his college years in Orange County were formulative in his decision to become a serious musician. Studying at Cal State Fullerton, skipping class to go to Disneyland, working at In-N-Out Burger in Anaheim Hills to pay for college, (fun fact: his co-worker was Derek Cowart of the Cosmonauts), and learning about DIY culture from a small fledgling label at the time called Burger Records were all part of Speak’s fondest memories of OC just before a song he wrote for Kreayshawn called “Gucci Gucci” became a hit and convinced him to drop out of CSUF to fully pursue his passion for music.

Orange County was also the set to Speak's first encounters with racism. He says Downtown Fullerton’s Rockin' Taco—now Matador Cantina, brought out the "conservative drunk frat bros" who would yell things at him like, "Beaner go back to Mexico!"

Speak says it’s only a matter of time before serious rap talent emerges from the tension filled and hip-hop lacking orange groves. “I'm waiting to see which angry Mexican kid from Anaheim or pissed off white kid who hates his Republican parents is gonna emerge and make music that's reflective of the youth in Orange County."

After Viva Pomona, Speak heads to Riverside, Oakland, and Toronto before heading back to Mexico for Hellow Fest in Monterrey. His latest project drops in September which he describes as “a musical ass rap album” with the same perverted and quirky dark humor fans have come to love yet with forward thinking consciousness. 

And lastly, just for shits and giggles, Speak gave us the low-down on his favorite OC spots and stereotypes.

OC Weekly: What's your favorite thrift shop? 

Speak: Value Village on Orangethorpe in Fullerton. You get all the rich Orange County grandmas throwing away Gucci slippers and Chanel scarves for the low.

OC WeeklyFavorite food spot?

Speak: Alicia’s Cookery & Catering Inc. in Brea for the delicious Pink Cloud sandwich with ham, cheese, and strawberry cream cheese spread on sourdough bread.

OC WeeklyFavorite OC stereotype? 

Speak: The extremely preppy or flip flop, cargo shorts, Affliction tank top, and Oakley sunglasses wearing bro with a big ass truck with truck nuts dangling from it and a “Make America Great Again” bumper sticker.

Stay classy OC and see y'all at Viva Pomona!

Speak will perform at Viva Pomona on Sunday, July 16th at The Glass House, 200 W. Second St. Pomona, (909) 865-3802. Tickets are $20. 

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The Glass House

200 W. Second St.
Pomona, CA 91766



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