Cholo rap in OC exists even if nobody is willing to acknowledge, much less write, about it. This ain't gangsta rap; it's straight-up gang rap. There's no real music videos nor commercial aspirations to speak of. With the advent of YouTube and other forms of social media, Mexican gangs have penned songs repping their respective hoods that act like sonic placas in cyperspace. Lyrically, that translates to "us vs. them" themes that say "fuck all enemigas," deride rivals as lames and vow to protect their barrios from them through violence, if need be. It ain't hate music: while white-power bands rail against all minorities, cholo rap only concerns itself with its immediate gang and cop enemies. But it's not always about body counts: sometimes, the homies just want to sing about parties and rucas and all the great things in life–just like almost every other musical group in history.
And with that, we present a sample soundtrack of OC cholo rap through five songs. It's by no means comprehensive and the videos are listed in no particular order. (We're sure the comment section will probably have something to say about whose "most hated," etc.) There are more diverse beats and rhymes bumpin' in the barrios. We'll get to that next, but for now, the list…
South Side Huntington Beach – "Beach Boy"
Save for KDAY nostalgia, G-funk may not dominate the radio airwaves anymore, but it lives on in the realm of Cholo Rap. That's the backdrop to "Beach Boy," a song that reps for the South Side Huntington Beach Playeros gang. And the rappers are letting you know they went all out on this one saying, "I never met a beat / That I didn't smack / I'm goin' all out with no halfway tracks / Fuck slack / Cuz that don't cut it / Listen to my shit / But you don't gotta love it."
Santa Ana West Myrtle Street – "Dead End Locos"
If it isn't G-funk, then it's just straight-up funk. In this case, it's the unmistakable sounds of Zapp & Roger's "Do Wa Ditty" (A group apparently hipsters in SanTana have just discovered). Want a brief summary of OC gang life in this quick track? After dissing his enemies as tamales, the rapper does a roll call: "Musica, dinero, heinas, drugs and cuetes."
La Habra Monos – "Locked Up in a Cell"
Doing time in la pinta is another part of the life and is the focus of "Locked Up in a Cell." In Cholo Rap, law enforcement is something that comes up over and over again. In this track the rapper hits on that saying, "Saludos to the homies / In the penitentiary / It's hard to believe / But that's the way it's gotta be / Locked up in a cell / Still standing like a G," later adding, "Fuck the DA / And the system / Got put on lock / Fuck a crooked ass cop / patrolling the block."
Anaheim Barrio Small Town – "Another Sunny Day"
Like SanTana, Anacrime could be a list onto itself. The neighborhoods in and around Barrio Small Town are being quietly "revitalized" or gentrified by the same company that flipped Jeffrey-Lynne into Hermosa Village. (Because in the city's eyes, a different class of people have to be brought in to go to all those new downtown breweries, right?) This track doesn't talk about all that, but shows a relaxed vibe of how the homies kick it: "We're having a lot fun / Cuz we don't got time for the drama / Dancing with heinas / Feeling good like Tony Montana."
Fullerton Tokers Town – "Fulas Bounce"
Bringing this list to a close is Fullerton Tokers Town, a gang with roots going back to the 1940s. Like a lot of Cholo Rap songs before it, "Fulas Bounce" bumps to a mix of funk and hip-hop. And like a lot of the music in the OC sub-genre, it hits on all the lyrical themes that dominate in reppin' "evilside" while the chorus says, "Everybody in the party straight bounce to this / bumpin' that music so dangerous." — a simple, but definitive rhyme when thinking about the music and the gang culture it reflects.
For more insight into Cholo Rap in general, read my compa, the good Irish-Mexi hip-hop scholar Pancho McFarland, breaking down issues of violence in the music on a real tip.