Vico C Still Holds it
Down for Puerto Rico
4/13/06 - LatinRapper.com exclusive interview
Puerto Rico's biggest
artists today are enjoying mainstream visibility, but most owe
thanks to artists like Ruben DJ and Vico C for laying the
foundation. As a teenager, Vico C made a smash debut in
1989, following up with multiple hit singles in the early 90's
which gained him recognition throughout Latin America. Having
endured various hardships in life including drug addiction,
Vico C would become a born-again Christian and return to the
Hip Hop scene as a new man.
Having won a Latin Grammy, and now a nominee for the 2006
Latin Billboard awards, Vico C the "Hip Hop Philosopher"
speaks openly with LatinRapper about the past and present in
this exclusive interview.
LatinRapper.com: Are you working on something new in the
studios right now?
Well not in the studios, but I'm always working. The fact that
I write the songs and do the arrangements, at least most of
them, the melodies and lyrics, it makes you understand that
you can always work your mind. I get to the studio with the
label's present (laughs). I'm basically always working, like
in terms as a composer as an artist.
Do you have a new album in mind?
Right now, and this year we're coming out with a musical
called Tony Presidio, and we're gonna put it in the theater
now. And then I'm coming out with a soundtrack, the CD of the
story with different artists. Besides that, this year I'm
gonna go to the studio and record the new album. That's
besides some other stuff. When it comes to music, that's my
For the new album, whose doing the production?
That's what I'm saying, I always go to the studio, work the
most I can to invent in my mind. When I go to the studio, I'm
doing everything. There's some technical things I haven't
learned like messing around with the equipment. So I create, I
play around with keyboard. Sometimes I play the keyboard or
this and that, but I create it and leave them to getting them
whatever I want to get, and I write the lyrics. I always
produce my records.
Do you have any big collaborations planned?
For example, Juanes came to me and wanted to do something, so
I don't know if he wanted me to do something for his record,
or for my record, the thing is I wanted him in my record. And
we've been talking to some people, I don't want to mention out
of respect for what we haven't done, but yes there's a desire
to do it. That desire is in many other artists that want to
record something with me, I know its there, I wont say nothing
specific. The Juanes thing, so I might have four or five big
people, when I say big people, I mean in the popular Latin
music in general, not just reggaeton or Latin Hip Hop.
Is there anyone out there you want to work with?
Oh yeah, there's Juan Luis Guerra, Ruben Blades, I'd like to
do something with Don Omar too. When it comes to Reggaeton and
Latin Hip Hop, I've only done something with a few people in
the reggaeton industry. There's only a few people that I
really I respect as complete artists, and Don Omar is one of
them. But most people, not because they don't sing reggaeton,
I wish, but people I really admire as musicians. If you ask me
about English, aint gotta be American, you go to London and
there's Paul McCartney, I'd like to do something with that
guy. I've never stopped wishing and hoping, I'm a fate man, I
think if God wants it, sometimes I'll work with anyone I can.
What do you think about the reggaeton movement in Puerto
Rico, being that you've been a part of the Puerto Rican Hip
Hop movement from the beginning?
There's many people that see reggaeton as a new thing now,
which is not true, it has more than 10 years. Now they call it
reggaeton, it used to be another word, another time when it
was there, I used to do it also, but it wasn't the main thing,
a strong thing. It makes people know about it later because
there are many things we had to achieve as people from the
ghetto, to make ourselves respected. Until that day came, we
had to struggle with it. That's why many people didn't know
about it. People know about it now with the name and artists
they have now, but this this thing came from 10 years.
Right, back in '95 when I started listening to it, it was
Even before then, it was rub-a-dub, come from Jamaica and the
states. They used to do the flavor of singing, what we call
reggaeton now, I remember that from the early 80s. It was just
an influence that it was kind of compatible with the Hip Hop
generation because it was represented by the same people,
that's why the flavor is compatible. There's no problem with a
rub a dub artist doing Hip Hop and vice versa, its like a
salsero doing merengue or a merengue doing a salsa, which is
not that far. Its not the same thing, but comes from the same
people and the same towns, how you say, idiosyncrasia. The
rhythm's not the same, but the essence, when it comes to
people, its the same.
How much has rap changed in Puerto Rico since you got
well, many changes, different era, because when I came up with
my first record in '89, you're talking about 17 years, the
movement started musically. When it comes to style and
everything, it changed every three to four years, changing
little by little. Every three years, four years, like many
people go and many people come (laughs). Some people stay old
and some come new and take over, then they're passed two years
more and there comes a new hero.
But it hasn't changed much
for me. What changed was the rhythms, the sounds that we used
to produce, the kind of styles of the beat and everything. But
Hip Hop is not fashion, its part of fashion but not fashion
itself, Hip Hop is culture. And culture is about different
things. The Hip Hop culture, the clothing is one thing, DJing,
rapping, dancing. Styles of this movement are not committed,
it doesn't depend on a style but a culture. Something that's
already out there, projecting through music, clothing many
things. It changes like the clothing, clothing changes a
little bit but maybe 10 years, 15 years, and everything comes
You talk about things going back, your music has always
been socially conscious, have artists forgotten about rap's
roots and should they do the same?
It all depends on which kind of rapper you're talking about.
There's some rappers that know about that but want to talk
about something else. Just like me, I don't do what everyone
else is doing, I do a different thing and they gotta respect
that. They cant say I'm anti social, I just want to do my
thing. It would be better, it would be good if more people did
more songs like mine, not because they're mine, but because
they say something, and we really need something. I can't
blame them, I started as a kid, I started cursing and trying
to make myself look like a gangster. But I was 14, 15, years
Depends on what kind of rapper, how young, your dreams,
because you can't tell them they're wrong. First you gotta
analyze their life, which are their priorities. I cant expect
from someone whose priorities are violence or gangsterism, I
cant expect them to write a social thing
So where are you from in Puerto Rico?
I'm from un barrio, a ghetto called Puerto de Tierra in San
Juan. I grew up there, I was born in Brooklyn, went to Puerto
Rico when I was five years old, and from then on I grew up in
Well your English is good, so are you going to do an
nah! (laughs), thanks for that, I can do it, but the problem
is that if I rap, I don't wanna sound like Tony Montana or a
black wannabe. In hip hop there's something that you can sing
with whatever accent you want. I'm not ashamed of being Latin,
but I'm very clear what hip hop is about, American hip hop and
people. We Latins can mix things, we like more music, more
variety to choose.
But American, its like hip hop people,
rockers, you know, hip hop is more specific art in the states.
And when you do hip hip, you either do something very
different and people like it, but its a risk because if they
don't like it, it will look like a failure and like you failed
in your career. But if I do it in the strain of the black
people, I will sound like somebody I will not, which I don't
like personally, and if people find out I'm not that, that's
it. I don't want this risk, I feel very good doing what I'm
doing. When it comes to English, I might do a movie someday,
I'll do a character that talks English the way he wants to
talk. Hip hop, that's a more serious thing, a risk.
So are you doing any performances outside of Puerto Rico
Yeah, almost all over through time. In between Santo [Domingo]
and South America, the states, Spain, Caribbean, basically.
What's the most important track you've done?
Okay, well my career is divided in two periods, eras. Every
era brought a very important record. To me, the biggest
comeback I ever made, when I became a man and really
understood many things, after I was messed up with heroin, I
got out of it, that's when I moved here, and then I made an
album called Aquel Que Habia Muerto, I think that album is not
the best but the most meaningful because I was coming from. So
when I came out of jail and made el Honor y el Verdad,
recorded it and won a Grammy. Depends on the era and the
achievement , I think Aquel Que Habia Muerto is the most
I remember in your track Xplosion you mentioned heroina,
were you dealing heroin or have a personal problem with it?
No no, I used to do heroin, I didn't sell drugs, but I used to
do heroin. The first time I talked about that thing, myself,
about things that I lived was in that album. Its special
because people saw a more honest man, something they could
relate to even more than before. I always sang social songs,
but Aquel Que Habia Muerto is deeper because it came from my
experience. From there I always kept doing something from my
life. Not because it works, but because I feel like it. I
really like to let some things out and make people relate to
me. To me its better.
Anything you'd like to add for the readers out there?
Be open with music, open with lyrics, that's all I ask for.
People who never heard my music, don't put me in a stereotype,
its modern, its real Hip Hop, its real reggaeton, it says
something. Just give it a chance. For people who maybe heard
some stuff about me but never sat down and listened to my
music, listen to my lyrics, that's what I'd like to say. Maybe
some people are going to listen. Maybe many of them wont know
who Vico C is or what his music is about. Just give it a
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