All the Spanish I know I learned from a gay Mexicano gangsta from Los Angeles, so you better believe that almost none of the Spanish I know is nice. I think I can piss off numerous sectors of society with the phrases and words I know, but that’s what you get when your teachers a vato.
I also learned the beauty of hip hop from that part of the world.
Orishas are actually Cubano, but rap and sing in both Spanish and French. Emigrante is their second album of four (I just found out researching for this post that they have released one more than I knew about!). Just after discovering them through my chulo, I imported the first two straight from Amazon. I was that sold on them.
I know enough Spanish to insult you, your mother, and your dog, but I have almost no idea what Orishas are rapping about. I have a sneaky suspicion some of their stuff might be political. I’m fairly sure some of their tracks are just happy party tracks, but when it comes to a translation, I’ve still not worked that all out.
Proof then, that hip hop is universal. It doesn’t matter what language you use, all that matters is intent and voice. Hip hop is a voice. This album, to me at least, is proof that you can hear and feel and appreciate hip hop, even if you can’t understand the language used.
Orishas is a three man group, and the styles are what you might expect from any hip hop group, even if perhaps a little more on the R&B tip. Rapped verses with almost seductively sung chorus’, the beats and flow are enough to draw you in. It’s an exercise in mood and sense, when you don’t understand the language. I think you can still feel the passion there.
Que Pasa is what I’m guessing was their first single, and was certainly the only video of theirs that I could find off their second album for a long time. It’s typical of what the album has to offer. Mujer shows off what happens when their singer Roldan takes more of a lead, on a track silken and smooth.
I got a lotta respect for Orishas on two levels. Firstly, the Hispanic rap scene reminds me of the Maori rap scene. You might not understand what they are rapping about, but you have to respect what they are doing, trying to make it despite the barriers. Both of the scenes are staunch and dedicated. Secondly, like Maori, rap in Spanish just sounds so damn dope.
And, despite being what they are, I’ve not only heard Orishas locally playing in cafes, I’ve also seen them in more than a few movies, and, they also got mentioned in one of my very favourite books The Good House. I wonder if they have any idea how far they have reached, despite their lack of common language with their fans?
As a postscript: if anyone out there can speak Spanish and takes an interest in Orishas, be sure to tell me what they’re saying!