Crooked Stilo: Urban
4/1/05 - LatinRapper.com exclusive interview
Victor and Johnny Lopez,
better known as the group Crooked Stilo, are taking Rap en
Espanol back to the forefront.
From the projects of East
Los Angeles to their war-torn homeland of El Salvador, the
Lopez brothers continue to sample traditional Latin music
to give each track their cultural seal of approval.
Last year the brothers dropped "Puro Escandalo" through
Fonovisa Records, a medley of Salsa, Merengue and sensual rap
in Spanish, the duo now prepare to release their new album "Retrasalo."
We caught up with Crooked Stilo to get the scoop on the new
album and more in this exclusive interview.
LatinRapper.com: What have you been working on lately?
We're in the studio right now for the second album, we're
doing the very last two songs today, so that's going well.
Working hard at it, trying to take it to the next level,
How does Retrasalo differ from the last album, Puro
It's more rhythmical, more club tracks. You know, we hit 'em
again with a couple of the samples, a little less sampling on
this one, all the other stuff is pretty much us. Our twist on
hip hop. We got a couple of tracks, we call it crunketon
because they aren't really reggaeton tracks. We're going to do
a remix of Mentirosa, a reggaeton remix featuring La Seria
from New York.
I understand you just shot a new video?
We just show the video last week, for the song Retrasalo.
We're gonna make it available online, as soon as the single
hits the airwaves. All those [TV] stations, they given us love
on the first album.
What distinguishes your group from other groups
I think its just the music,the first time you listen to it,
its out in the left field. Its not your typcial gangster rap,
its just corooked, and I don't think anyone else has that
sound. Thats how the name came up, when I frist started as a
producer I tried emulating other prodcuers to get that sound,
it always came out crooked, thats how we came up with the
name, with the style. At first we were pissed off then we just
accepted it was gonna be like that.
You released an album in ‘93, what was the reason for a
decade long hiatus?
We've done two albums. I think the first one was out in 93-94,
called Crooked For Life, half English half Spanish CD. We did
a little small tour, Arizona, New York, but most of the
comments I got back from people in email is that the Spanish
was off the hook, just raw. So after that we just started
working on an all-Spanish album. It took a while because we
wanted the right person to put it out, we wanted it
everywhere, so we couldn't do that so we went back to the same
small label, 805 Records. That one came out in 2002-2003, so
that took us a little while to do, 'cause we actually were
gonna release two albums but ended up doing a Spanish one.
How does being Latino fit in with your music?
We use a lot of the sampling that we use is based on Spanish
music, even when do were doing the English tracks. Somehow,
someway we wanted to make sure that people knew that we were
Many Latin hip hop artists living in the U.S. do an album
in English and appear to a broad spectrum of fans. By doing an
album in Spanish, you seem to limit your audience to mostly
Latinos. Had you considered doing an all English album to
appeal to more listeners?
Yes, the very first one we did was gonna be all English, but
we put some Spanish on it. The response we got was good from
the fans of English, but the people who listened to the
Spanish were overwhelmed by it because they hadn't heard that.
The new generations, the ones we identify with, all speak
English, so we would wanna do an album in English.
Were there other Latinos in hip hop that influenced your
music or how you conducted business?
The person that really gave us the main influence was MC ALT.
He lived just across the street from us in San Gabriel Valley.
We watched this guy, him and my brother would battle, at first
my brother always lost. All of a sudden we saw him on TV, he
had a big hit back in the days, and had another hit with Kid
Frost, so that kind of opened our eyes and made it seem like
it was possible for someone from the hood or without all the
resources to do it. So we started taking it more seriously.
Aside from them it was Cypress Hill, made a huge impact on us.
Delinquent Habits, Psycho Realm, Beatnuts.
You lived in the projects in L.A., but originally you came
from El Salvador, a country that was known for rampant
violence and disappearances. How would you compare the two
Completely different. We were very young when we were out
there. We had a chance to go back when we were teens, we got
sent back for two years 'cause we were doing stupid things. It
was culture shock, a lot of the things you have here you took
for granted: food, cars, electricity. We didn't have that. We
went to a school where we couldn't come out except for the
weekends. And in the weekends we had to stay with our
grandparents in a rural area, where electricity came and went,
outhouses, stuff like that. I think being out there, if you
can live here in the projects you can live 100 times better
than areas in El Salvador.
Would you consider going back to El Salvador to perform?
Definitely, that's one of my wishes, go back there and either
give a free concert, [for] the people to see. El Salvador is a
pretty small country, as a people we rarely had any artists
that were big outside of the country, the biggest one, that
was probably a decade ago. It would be like the maximum reward
Any noteworthy collaborations in the works?
I did a track with Daddy Yankee on his Barrio Fino CD, big
opportunity there. I just did a track with Don Chezina, for a
Urban Regional really blew up in 2004, what do you credit
The big labels opening up their doors, backing up the
movement, really showing their support. Also the media did
that, the press, people like you guys. You got to the ears of
the street. Also acts like Akwid, that brought good music to
Reggaeton had been around since '95 and before but only now
is getting mainstream acceptance, do you think you'll ever see
an Urban Regional video on BET or MTV?
What's gonna happen, the collaboration has to happen, and I
haven't seen that yet. That's what helped reggaeton a lot,
Daddy Yankee; Gasolina was a hot track, then he did a
collaboration with Nore and Nina Sky, and that's pretty much
what put reggaeton in the world eyes. Its gonna take Akwid
collaborating with Nore Or Jay-Z to put it in the world's
eyes. We tried to do it with this album, but there's a lot of
red tape with the label. Not our label, but other labels. We
had to finish the album pretty quick, and usually labels, you
give them like a release, its takes a long time.
Do you ever think that your subgenre of music is starting
to get saturated with new artists?
Not really. I think its good when new artists pop up, because
if the new artists is good, it gives the other artists more
competition, which is good. It makes you put hot music, put
out a hotter album than before. The ones that aren't good get
Have you been touring at all?
Yeah, we been doing shows all over the U.S.. We did a show
with Fat Joe, we did stuff in Spain for a month, we just did a
show with Don Omar and Pitbull and Nore, that was huge. And we
plan to stay in that arena with those cats, try to get to
their crowd. A lot of them haven't heard of Región Urbano, try
to give them a different taste of Latin music.
Last time we spoke, we discussed Crooked Stilo dropping an
all English album, does that seem like it would still happen?
Yeah yeah, in fact, in this album half of the album was in
English. Towards the end, we dropped a couple of the tracks.
Again, just because of the timing issue, because of stuff not
coming through. The single is a bilingual track.
What can we expect from Crooked Stilo in the future?
We are still gonna keep making noise in this rap game. Either
producing a new album, definitely gonna push ourselves to the
next level. Might be a Spanish album, might be an English
album, I'm still trying to run to the next level.
Any last message you'd like to add?
May 17th, the new album. Different level, adding our crunketon
in there, a new twist on hip hop. Be on the lookout.
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