A Lighter Shade of Brown’s Bobby Ramirez passed away Monday afternoon at the age of 46. The rapper known as DTTX (Don’t Try to Xerox) had been found unconscious with a 107-degree temperature on a Las Vegas street on July 7 when paramedics transferred him to a nearby hospital. Ramirez stayed in a coma for 11 days until family made the difficult decision to end all life support.
Back in 1990, Ramirez helped form A Lighter Shade of Brown with Robert “One Dope Mexican” Gutierrez. The duo came out of Riverside and started recording demos. Later that year, they landed a deal with Pump Records and quickly released Brown & Proud. A Lighter Shade of Brown’s debut featured various producers including Tony G who worked on Kid Frost’s first album that same year. Brown & Proud cracked the Billboard 200 powered by the classics “Latin Active” and “On a Sunday Afternoon.”
“That was one of the first times that we actually got to hear Chicanos on hip-hop radio stations,” says Chicago State University professor Pancho McFarland, author of Chicano Rap and The Chican@ Hip-Hop Nation. “For me, I felt legitimized in the hip-hop world after that.” A Lighter Shade of Brown represented a synthesized sound that reflected the imprint of Chicanos on the culture whether it was including the bilingual rhymes of Tear-drop on “Latin Active,” their own Chicano slang or love for oldies with “On a Sunday Afternoon” sampling The Young Rascals and featuring a cameo by Dick “Huggy Boy” Hugg.
A Lighter Shade of Brown emerged along with Kid Frost to help pave the way for other Chicanos in hip-hop. Proper Dos released Mexican Power two years later in 1992. A Lighter Shade of Brown followed up with Hip-Hop Locos that year and 1994’s Layin’ in the Cut, which marked the commercial peak for the duo with “Hey DJ” hitting #43 on the Billboard Hot 100. Their music appeared on the Chicano film soundtracks of Mi Vida Loca and I Like It Like That.
“Their songs have become a part of the California culture and bring back memories for their many fans and our listeners of the Art Laboe Connection,” radio legend Art Laboe tells the Weekly. “Our condolences and prayers to his family, friends and many fans. We will deeply miss you Bobby and we will always have your music, especially ‘On A Sunday.'”
A Lighter Shade of Brown released three more albums on Thump Records before their last effort It’s a Wrap dropped in 2011 on Illuminated Entertainment. Ramirez played a pivotal role in the duo’s success with his energetic, high-pitched and skilled flow. But A Lighter Shade of Brown’s era comes to a close with his tragic death this week. The duo had a scheduled concert in Las Vegas on August 20 that got cancelled because of Ramirez’s hospitalization. Gutierrez stayed by his musical partner’s bedside and dispelled early reports of Ramirez’s death by radio stations.
“It is with great sadness to inform you that our brother Bobby DTTX Ramirez has passed away,” Gutierrez wrote on Facebook this Monday. “On behalf of the Ramirez family, they would like to thank friends and the fans for ALL of your prayers during this difficult time.”
The Ramirez family is raising funds to cover funeral and medical expenses online. There will never be another rapper like DTTX, who, like his stage name suggested, can’t be replicated.
Gabriel San Roman is from Anacrime. He’s a journalist, subversive historian and tallest Mexican in OC.